Paradise Valley continues tussle with right approach to Lincoln Drive improvements

One thing that is known regarding Lincoln Drive median improvements is a new traffic signal will be installed at Lincoln Drive and Quail Run Road. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Since September of last year, Town of Paradise Valley officials have been wrestling with the appropriate approach to Lincoln Drive median improvements — from about Mockingbird Lane to Scottsdale Road — that could play an integral role in the success of contemplated development.

That intellectual tussle continues today.

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Feb. 28 hosted a discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, on the prospect of a series of adequate options emerging along Lincoln Drive.

In all, Town Council decided two of the proposed nine options, which equates to a full median erected from Mockingbird Lane to about Scottsdale Road, are off the negotiating table.

With a handful of development projects happening within an arrow’s shot of each other — and the municipal border of Scottsdale — the area coined by local officials as the “South Lincoln Development Area” the development stakes are high, those familiar with the matter contend.

In September 2018, Paradise Valley Town Council hosted a public hearing on the myriad commercial development projects moving through the municipal process today. (File photo)

The area itself includes Lincoln Medical Plaza and Smoke Tree Resort, both of which are in the midst of going through a special use permit process to redevelop their properties. Additionally, the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley community — across the street — has an agreement with the town that road improvements will be taken care of by the municipality. Access to the Applewood Pet Resort along Lincoln Drive is also a consideration.

And, finally, properties that are within the city of Scottsdale — AJs Fine Foods and Scottsdale Lincoln apartments — which line the entry point to Lincoln Drive on the north and southside both have left-in, left-out driveways that don’t appear to be changing any time soon, town officials say.

Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bie-Willner says one thing is known with certainty: There will be a new traffic signal at Quail Run Road.

“We have some future discussions on this coming, but we do know with certainty there will be a new signal at Quail Run Road,” he said. “This is a very important stretch of roadway for our town.”

Paradise Valley Town Council challenged certain assumptions presented by Kim Carroll of Phoenix-based Kimley-Horn: Planning and Design Engineering Consultants.

“This is a difficult problem and no one is saying your are looking at this the wrong way,” he said following a series of critical questions surrounding traffic count and MPH assumptions found within the consultation report.

“Because of the need to get this right — assuming we have a few options ahead of us — what does that look like? I think we do want to look at that. Those are also potential downsides to our plan. Some of our roads are not conducive for U-turns anywhere. We understand those are all trade-offs. I would support having a more expansive approach.”

Both Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow and Vice Mayor Scott Moore called into question proposed speed limits and traffic counts apart of the Kimley-Horn consultation report.

“We need to know what the existing condition is today and how do we make that better,” Mr. Moore said of certain assumptions. “We can’t work from the golden standard.”

Ms. Carroll noted assumptions and recommendations have to come from existing conditions and went on record noting, “I am not comfortable recommending something that is not known.”

Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Scott Moore at the local dais. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

What is known is the MPH along Lincoln Drive ought to remain at 40 miles per hour despite Paradise Valley policymakers opining a 35-MPH option, Ms. Carroll pointed out.

“This is a town issue to reduce that speed,” she explained. “Because of the data that was collected, I would recommend it to being the 40 MPH.”

For Mr. Bien-Willner some of the consternation surrounding Lincoln Drive median improvements has been inherited.

“This is a vestige of the development agreement we are left with,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the best timing as I think it would be best to see what happens with these developments. The current condition allows for access.”

The development agreement shaping Lincoln Drive median improvements is the product of a Paradise Valley special-use permit — approved by a 4 to 3 vote in early 2016 — which entitles Scottsdale-based Five Star Development, through an investment of $130 million, to build a Ritz-Carlton-branded resort on more than 100 acres an arrow’s shot from the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Lincoln Drive.

Representatives from both the pursued SmokeTree redevelopment and Ritz-Carlton development resort projects could not be reached for comment.

An artist’s rendering shows how the proposed SmokeTree Resort redevelopment could shape the Town of Paradise Valley entrance on Lincoln Drive. (submitted graphic)

The options afoot

Traffic consultants have been hired, public relations efforts are afoot and to this point these are the possible options for Lincoln Drive median improvements between Mockingbird Lane and Quail Run Road:

  • Option 2: From Mockingbird Lane to Quail Run Road there will be full access to Applewood Pet Resort west entrance access only.
  • Option 3: From Mockingbird Lane to Quail Run Road there will be only a west entrance into the Applewood Pet Resort and left-in access at what local officials call, the “Gordon property.”
  • Option 4: From Mockingbird Lane to Quail Run Road there will be only a west entrance to Applewood Pet Resort with a left-in option at what officials call, the “Verma/Gordon Property Line.”

To this point these are the possible options for Lincoln Drive median improvements between Quail Run Road and to the end of municipal boundaries just shy of Scottsdale Road:

  • Option 2: Left-in-only shared access for SmokeTree Resort and Lincoln Medical Plaza off of Lincoln Drive.
  • Option 3: Shared full access for SmokeTree Resort and Lincoln Medical Plaza off of Lincoln Drive.
  • Option 4: Full access for the SmokeTree Resort and right-in and right-out access for Lincoln Medical Plaza off of Lincoln Drive.
  • Option 5: A two-way, left-turn lane along Lincoln Drive allowing access to SmokeTree Resort and Lincoln Medical Plaza.

Although town officials agree a median along Lincoln Drive between Mockingbird Lane and Scottsdale Road is the safest option, Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert says “he can live with other options.”

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected to revisit these options at its regularly scheduled March 14 meeting at Town Hall.

A map shows where road construction around the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley plat is planned. (submitted graphic)

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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