Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton development proposal enters final stage

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected Thursday, Dec. 17 to render a vote on the proposed Ritz-Carlton resort community. (Submitted graphic)

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected Thursday, Dec. 17 to render a vote on the proposed Ritz-Carlton resort community. (Submitted graphic)

The fluid state of the proposed Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton appears to be everlasting.

On Monday, Nov. 30 developers of the planned resort community juggernaut told the Town of Paradise Valley Independent they presented their best and final offer to Paradise Valley Town Council. However, at a Dec. 3 public hearing at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, the plan presented to Paradise Valley Town Council shifted once again — most notably a decrease in proposed homes in a certain area of the project.

During the Nov. 3 public hearing and subsequent work session discussion Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Paul Dembow called into question why the Ritz-Carlton is not listed as the primary operator in defined stipulations to the proposed development plan.

Following the project introductions, Vice Mayor Dembow, during the public hearing, asked zoning attorney Jason Morris directly, “So it might not be a Ritz-Carlton?”

Mr. Morris replied, “I think that’s an overstatement.”

Five Star Development, owned by Scottsdale resident Jerry Ayoub, is represented by Jason Morris of Whitey Morris PLC in this matter.

Scottsdale-based Five Star Development, through an investment of $130 million, is preparing a 105-acre swath of land an arrow’s shot from Scottsdale and Lincoln roads for a Ritz-Carlton project that now includes seven development-area characteristics:

  • Area A: 200-room resort on 18.1 acres
  • Area A1: 94 resort-branded villas
  • Area B: 66 single-family homes on 31.3 acres
  • Area C: 45 resort-branded, single-family homes on 22.5 acres
  • Area D: 62 townhomes on 8.8 acres
  • Area E1: A 54,000 square-foot luxury retail center on 7.2 acres
  • Area E2: Influx design as the use of 5.7 acres is yet to be determined

“Yes, that is correct. That is the plan we want council to vote on,” said Five Star Development Chief Financial Officer Chris Klecka in a Nov. 30 phone interview. “We have dropped density significantly since the commission vote.”

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission voted 5-2 Oct. 20 to recommend approval of the proposal to the town council. Commission members Thomas Campbell and Richard Mahrle were dissenting votes. Two members of the commission — Daran Wastchak and Scott Moore — now say they, too, would have opposed the proposal if at the time they would have known the developer was planning on adding 14 more homes to Area B, increasing the number from 66 to 80.

That change occurred some time between the Oct. 20 commission vote and the Nov. 5 joint public meeting, records show.

However, the number of homes proposed in Area B now stands at 72. Town officials say the project will encompass 1,795,402 square feet with a lot coverage of 25.8 percent.

“We still favor the 80-home plan,” Mr. Klecka said of the most recent plan submittal. “Now in Area B and Area C as well we don’t have any lot on the perimeter that is less than 15,000 square feet and setbacks of at least 30 feet. We have a minimal lot size of 10,000 square feet.”

Mr. Klecka contends the final proposal is a reaction to market desires.

“Our first goal is when we look at this development is to understand what the market is asking for,” he said. “By and large, with this kind of development, with this residential portions there has been a desire for smaller lots. We felt like this is what the market is asking for.”

Mr. Klecka confirms Five Star Development is building a Ritz-Carlton product that could be maintained as the five-star behemoth for the next few decades.

“Ritz-Carlton has been a great partner of ours and this is going to be a Ritz-Carlton,” he said. “The standard is 30 years and usually you have a couple of options at the end of the agreement, which we have. We are thrilled to have them managing the resort.”

A point of consternation among Paradise Valley Town Council members was the proposed rooftop deck and its accompanying uses atop the lobby building of the proposed resort.

“We did actually remove the hotel deck from the lobby,” Mr. Klecka pointed out. “As much as we think it would be a benefit to the hotel, due to the issues expressed by council members, we decided to remove it from the submission.”

‘Encouraged and optimistic’

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins say he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

“I continue to remain encouraged and optimistic that Mr. Ayoub and his Five Star Development team will ultimately present the town council with a proposal that satisfies everyone’s needs for project success,” he said.

“We’ve expedited the approval process as best we can and are in the final stretch of the application. The town manager is leading the discussions with the applicant and continues to offer and communicate opportunities for project success.”

Mayor Collins says while the rooftop deck was a potential head-turner, it was not a good fit for the Town of Paradise Valley.

“The rooftop deck was a fascinating and unique idea,” he said. “But just because it might be cool doesn’t mean that it fits in the Town of Paradise Valley, and I think that was the message that the town council delivered to the Five-Star team.”

Mayor Collins says Area B may be a development area where a compromise has to be struck between development needs and local land use perceptions.

“I’m starting to come around on Area B. I’m not sure I could look at the finished development project from the outside and tell you whether it contained 66 or 72 lots,” he said.

“But I do know that with the entire perimeter containing minimum lot sizes of 15,000-square-feet, requirements to be single-story at a maximum of 20-feet high with large setbacks from Mockingbird and Indian Bend roads, it seems like the plan for this area is starting to come together and potential neighborhood impacts have been largely mitigated.”

Mayor Collins says a vote is expected Thursday, Dec. 17 at Town Hall.

“I have always understood that any negotiation or government process will last as long as you let it,” he explained. “Setting a hard deadline of Dec. 17th not only ensures that Mr. Ayoub will have his answer within the eight-month timeline that I’ve promised, but more importantly forces everyone to focus and get this thing done.”

David Sherf

David Sherf

Paradise Valley Councilman David Sherf says there are good things and bad things about Five Star’s recent submittal.

“While the latest plan provides more clarity to Area E and seemingly a better road pattern in Area B, I am disappointed that the developer continues to ignore the Planning Commission’s recommendation for only 66 lots in Area B and also continues to show high density in Area A-1 — the branded resort villas — and Area D — the townhomes,” he said in a Dec. 1 written response to e-mailed questions.

“The road layout in Area B provides improved traffic flow and the rerouting of the wash to the interior of the project should  provide more landscaping between the resort and the homes, yet the number of homes remains too high.”

Councilman Sherf contends Paradise Valley Town Council will ensure the right kind of development is approved for the proposed Ritz-Carlton.

“The council, town leadership and staff continues to spend a considerable amount of time working with the developer to produce a plan that most residents should find acceptable. The focus of many residents seems to be on securing a Ritz-Carlton resort and this is the driver for the entire parcel,” he said.

“However, the housing and commercial density that Five Star Development claims is needed to enable the economical development of a Ritz Carleton Resort may be at odds with the character of Paradise Valley.”

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