Paradise Valley Town Council OKs Ritz-Carlton resort juggernaut

A view of what the pool scene might be at the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community. (Submitted graphic)

A view of what the pool scene might be at the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton resort community. (Submitted graphic)

Paradise Valley Town Council Monday, Dec. 21 approved a special-use permit allowing Five Star Development to build a Ritz-Carlton resort community — the largest commercial development in the municipality’s history.

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins along with councilmembers Mary Hamway, Mark Stanton and Maria Syms voted for the measure while Vice Mayor Paul Dembow and council members David Sherf and Jerry Bien-Willner held unwavering to their assertion the proposal to build the luxury resort community is too dense, has too many unknown variables and lacks firm financial commitments to benefit the community at large.

While Paradise Valley Town Council approved the SUP permit by a 4 to 3 vote, the governing board unanimously approved a continuance of the subsequent development agreement until 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

Concerns regarding stipulations within the development agreement — the nuts and bolts of the deal between the municipality and the developer that, in this case, speaks to tax revenues, phasing of construction and identification of a luxury resort operator — appear to be the roadblock to approval for some members of Paradise Valley Town Council.

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: 53 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

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

A major point of trepidation for both Paradise Valley residents and elected leaders was a memorialized agreement between Five Star Development and the Ritz-Carlton Hotels. That happened hours before the Dec. 21 Paradise Valley Town Council meeting, officials say.

“Five Star Development and Ritz-Carlton have signed the operating agreement for the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley resort after several weeks of work to finalize the details,” said Tom Evans, a spokesman for Five Star, a few hours prior to the Dec. 21 meeting.

“From our perspective, we never had any doubt that this was going to take place, but we had to ensure the operating agreement was complete based on the plans submitted to the Town of Paradise Valley. We can now say with complete certainty and without reservation that the hotel will be a Ritz-Carlton.”

Prior to hours of public testimony and the subsequent approval vote, Mayor Collins explained to the standing-room-only crowd the gravity of the pending resort project.

“This project is the largest project ever in the Town of Paradise Valley,” he said. “Just like you, we don’t want to pass anything that is not up to that bar set by Paradise Valley. I would be surprised if a project like this didn’t, at times, take a right turn or a left turn as it sometimes has.”

Benjamin Graff, a zoning attorney with Whitey Morris, says his client had done everything they could to meet the standards set by the Town of Paradise Valley for a resort project of this magnitude.

“We are about eight to nine months in this process,” he said. “We have made a significant effort to reduce those densities. Tonight we are proposing a 28 percent reduction in density from when the Planning Commission approved this … we have listened.”

North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at tthornton@newszap.com

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