Scottsdale Indian Bend traffic calming met with Paradise Valley chagrin

A view of an initial proposal to help calm traffic along Indian Bend Road. (Submitted photo)

A proposal to adjust Indian Bend Road to better accommodate certain development parameters approved by the city of Scottsdale for a new shopping center coined “The Palmeraie” was not well received by Paradise Valley Town Council.

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, June 22 held a work study discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, on the topic of creating a traffic calming measure along Indian Bend Road within the Town of Paradise Valley to provide better access to the new shopping center, which is attached to the forthcoming Ritz-Carlton resort community.

Initial plans made public suggest The Palmeraie will, in part, encompass 20 acres of land adjacent to the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton Resort Community at the intersection of Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads.

The Paradise Valley Town Council during a study session at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (Submitted photo)

The new shopping center got the go-ahead by a unanimous vote from Scottsdale City Council Tuesday, March 21 as it approved the rezoning of a 20-acre site at 6990 N. Scottsdale Road from resort/townhouse residential to planned regional center.

In all, Scottsdale City Council approved three different measures for the zoning change — with one being a $408,000 contribution to the municipality from Five Star Development for the city to use to assist in constructing and maintaining the city’s drainage system.

The approved measures will allow for a mixed-use development that can consist of 141 residential units in 170,000 square feet, a maximum of 150 hotel units on 134,000 square feet, 226,000 square feet of commercial space and 80,000 square feet of office space, according to the March 21 Scottsdale staff report.

Scottsdale-based Five Star Development, which was founded by prominent developer Jerry Ayoub, is the entity that is bringing the Paradise Valley Ritz-Carlton development proposal to life and is represented by Jason Morris of Withey Morris PLC.

Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke says the traffic calming proposal along Indian Bend Road is a product of zoning negotiations between developer interests and municipal controls.

“This was an outcome of our development agreement with the Ritz-Carlton project,” Mr. Burke said at the June 22 work session discussion.

“We came up with what has been affectionately referred to as the ‘Swoop,’” he said of the initial calming measure proposal. “Is this going to have an unintended impact on Cheney and Hummingbird?”

According to data provided by CivTech, today there are about 3,190 daily trips on Indian Bend Road and 2,635 daily trips along Cheney Drive while Hummingbird Lane — which is under construction — sees about 1,320 daily trips.

Numbers suggest about 320 of the 3,190 daily trips along Indian Bend Road are considered cut-through traffic between Phoenix and Scottsdale.

“There were several opportunities to do traffic calming,” said Dawn Cartier, president of CivTech Inc. at the June 22 work study discussion.

“But when Scottsdale came back and made it known this dual left was a mandatory piece of approval for The Palmeraie in Scottsdale really everyone had the focus of getting the traffic onto Indian Bend. This design directs all of that traffic to go into The Palmeraie. We are trying to end the cut-through traffic.”

Given the term, “swoop,” the design proposal would bring all westbound traffic on Indian Bend Road from Scottsdale Road to enter into The Palmeraie unless the motorist opted to change lanes.

“All traffic on Indian Bend Road eastbound will be required to stop at the ‘tee’ intersection with the swoop and turn left to continue on Indian Bend Road,” said Ms. Cartier in her June 3 report to town council. “The swoop redesign of Indian Bend Road will still allow two-way traffic but will require westbound vehicles to turn right (yielding to pedestrians) and eastbound vehicles to turn left (stop controlled).”

More impacts than one

But what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner points out.

“This may be a great solution for the Palmeraie and for Scottsdale,” he said at the June 22 work study discussion noting the importance of making sound business decisions.

Jerry Bien-Willner

“It’s good for business and it’s what you expect people to do. But as far as the town goes, I think this is a terrible idea. You are taking a roadway people use to get east and get out of Paradise Valley. I use Indian Bend to get out of Paradise Valley to get to Scottsdale and that is where I am hung up.”

Vice Mayor Bien-Willner says creating new opportunities for left turns may be problematic and the level of traffic that will hit the area given the scope of the Ritz-Carlton development project.

“The way this is presented is not within the town’s best interests or the residents,’” he said. “What this reminds me of is of the Galleria in the early ‘90s. Maybe one person’s traffic calming is another person’s driving frustration. From a resident perspective, I don’t like the idea of using stop signs to slow down traffic that is already being used to get out of town.”

Vice Mayor Bien-Willner says the traffic calming proposal is closer to being set in “La La Land” rather the reality of living and commuting in and around the Town of Paradise Valley.

“For me, I think this is a connectivity issue,” he said. “There was sort of this box drawn around the development and to think there isn’t going to be a significant traffic impact due to the amount of development proposed is not really living in reality. This is probably more of an art at some level rather than an exact science.”

Ms. Cartier says east and westbound traffic will flow as it does today — given a few impediments to efficiency.

“It still allows traffic to flow east and west as they did before,” she said of the swoop design. “In this design, the person would have a little bit of a delay is they would travel eastbound. It will look and feel the same as it does today.”

According to Ms. Cartier, CivTech did not reach out to neighbors who could be impacted by the proposed change along Indian Bend Road.

“In our industry we don’t use stop signs as a traffic calming measure … if it was looking to calm traffic it would have to be something different,” she said of why the configuration of both Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads has to change. “We have not had any public reach out on this, well, I shouldn’t speak for everyone involved in the project, but I have not.”

Five Star Development Project Manager Richard Frazee points to where he intends to build the most innovative Ritz-Carlton design in any market worldwide. (File Photo)

In the shadow of the Ritz

The Paradise Valley special-use permit — which was approved by a 4 to 3 vote in early 2016 —entitles Five Star, through an investment of $130 million, to build a Ritz-Carlton branded resort community that includes seven development-area characteristics.

Shea Homes has announced the homebuilder is set to debut a new high-end brand called, Shea Signature, in the Town of Paradise Valley that will appear on a 23-acre portion of the Ritz-Carlton project where 66 single-family luxury homes will be built.

The housing stock planned at the Ritz-Carlton resort portion continues to exceed pricing and sales expectations.

Last year, all 91 villas, priced from $1 million to more than $5 million, were released as the first phase of sales. Record success was achieved with all units selling in one day, totaling over $250 million in real estate.

The proposed Ritz-Carlton community, at the time it gained its zoning entitlements from the Town of Paradise, includes the following zoning stipulations:

  • Area A: 200-room resort on 18.1 acres
  • Area A1: 94 resort-brand-ed villas
  • Area B: 66 single-family homes on 31.3 acres
  • Area C: 45 resort-brand-ed, 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

“It seems to be there is one council member that would like for staff to reconsider this traffic solution,” said

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins during the June 22 discussion.

“The weighting is the west bound traffic is reduced in favor of an easier east bound flow. The trade-off in revisiting that traffic solution is decreased flow of traffic going west along Indian Bend and to increase the flow eastbound along Indian Bend.”

Officials at Town Hall say the proposed traffic calming measure will come back to the local governing board some time in early July.

“We will get right on this looking at an alternative,” Mr. Burke told members of town council. “It could still be this but we are looking to seeing something we can compare this too.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.