Potential uses guide Paradise Valley Lincoln Medical Plaza redevelopment talks

A view of the project site in the Town of Paradise Valley. (Submitted graphic)

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, June 14 is expected to issue marching orders to its Planning Commission putting in to motion the redevelopment of the Lincoln Medical Plaza.

Known at Town Hall as a Statement of Direction, the document will give the Paradise Valley Planning Commission guidelines of scrutiny for the pending medical facility overhaul, which includes a complete demolition of the existing site.

An artist rendering of the proposed Lincoln Medical Plaza. (submitted graphic)

The Lincoln Medical Plaza at 7125 E. Lincoln Drive, which is owned by Jamel Greenway LLC, is 25,444 square feet with existing structures since 2011 housing both a pharmacy and an urgent care office.

Proposed is a 36,000-square-foot, two-story, 36-foot high structure. The existing height is 24-feet with some portion to add mechanical screening at 27 feet, the application shows.

The proposed setbacks are 67 feet in the front, but right-of-way — sidewalks, natural areas and public streets — dedication would be 35 feet, documents show. The existing structure is setback 62 feet with the full right-of-way dedication.

“As the narrative states, our primary goal is a single-tenant medical office building,” said Zoning Attorney Jason Morris of Phoenix-based Withey Morris in a May 31 letter to town council.

“Our client has had preliminary discussions with several major hospital networks interested in potentially occupying the space if our amendment is approved. However, it is also possible the arrangement could involve a primary tenant with subtenants or multiple tenants.”

Jason Morris

Mr. Morris clarifies the application is not seeking changes to permitted uses of the property under existing special use permit guidelines.

“As noted in the narrative, we are not requesting any changes in the permitted uses and just want to be clear that we are not seeking to restrict the SUP to a single-tenant operation,” he said.

The special use permit in the Town of Paradise Valley works as specific zoning rules enforced through the policies of the General Plan, which is a voter-approved document guiding the philosophy of growth and development of the community.

Mr. Morris outlines industry trends speak toward justification of the proposed height increase, which could see a structure exceeding 30 feet.

“The trend in modern medical office buildings requires more open, flexible space that more closely aligns with Class A office construction,” he explained of the request that could see an ascension of stucco to 36 feet.

“Typical Class A construction is 15-foot, floor-to-floor with a minimum 10-foot finished ceiling, which is precisely what we are proposing with the 30-foot roofline. Moving forward we will continue to articulate these reasons in greater detail, but I think it’s important to point out for the council that we’ve already put that level of thought into the design.”

Furthermore, Mr. Morris points out the parcel has a unique layout and the SOD language ought to incorporate that perspective.

“In particular, Mr. Burke (the town manager) noted that the landscape buffer SUP guideline assumes a vacant site at the minimum acreage suggested by the guidelines — it does not assume an existing developed site on an irregular and undersized parcel with landscape and building setbacks that are already non-compliant,” he said.

“He noted that in cases like this, it simply isn’t practical. Council echoed this sentiment, and we would request that the SOD acknowledge the unique characteristics of the site in evaluating the appropriate depth of the landscape buffer.”

A graphic sketch of how the Lincoln Medical Plaza could look following redevelopment of the site. (Submitted graphic)

Council eyes formal direction

Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke outlined to town council during its May 31 study session discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, the major points of evaluation of the pending medical plaza development.

“The topic of discussion is the intensity of the use,” he told council. “Is that the right language reflected in the SOD?”

A point of clarification pursued by Councilwoman Julie Pace was what kind of medical uses would be allowed at the revamped facility.

“Is there a risk that they could pursue medical marijuana at that corner?” she asked of town staff. “Can we put limitations? If I own property and I am trying to preserve the character of Paradise Valley … then can I say, ‘hey as part of my negotiations with the town I can offer that stipulation?’”

Paradise Valley Town Attorney explains through codes, covenants and restrictions — legal documents that would rest with the municipality — can outline what uses can and cannot be allowed in perpetuity.

“It’s not out of the norm,” he said.

Paradise Valley Town Attorney Andrew Miller. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

During the study session Mr. Morris pointed out, “I can’t imagine advising my client to do that voluntarily,” in regard to limiting the potential uses of a property under the guise of CC&Rs held by the Town of Paradise Valley.

Councilman Paul Dembow says the municipality should not be infringing upon private property rights.

“That is a pretty big ask,” he noted. “I don’t see why we should try and restrict it, as it is a legal use of the state.”

Mayor Michael Collins explains council is not in the business of telling private property owners what they can and cannot do.

“Ultimately, all we are doing is encouraging, right?” he asked.

“From a policy perspective we are looking at limiting the uses. We are widowing down that already permitted list of uses. We are discouraging high intensity.”

Ms. Pace says she would like for the applicant to consider barring medical marijuana as a potential use for the redevelopment of the Lincoln Medical Plaza.

“It just takes that whole issue away in case 20 years from now, I really don’t want to have a medical marijuana dispensary at that corner,” she said. “I am just saying, that’s how we did it with short-term rentals. If they are asking, I think it is worth it. And, we don’t have a surprise — it’s really about congestion. It’s a whole different thing then traditional healthcare.”

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

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