You have arrived: Paradise Valley sets out to expand its identity

A view of Camelback Mountain from the corner of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard is one area of town considered a Visually Significant Corridor by town officials. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The effervescent nature of Paradise Valley is seeking to take physical form throughout areas of the municipality, as a new plan makes its way to Paradise Valley Town Council this fall.

Dubbed as the Visually Significant Corridors Master Plan, the conceptual document is one of town council’s quality of life initiatives and has been included in the town’s 2012 General Plan.

The Town of Paradise Valley Visioning Committee in 2011 identified opportunities existing along Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard that could serve as “showcase corridors,” according to Planning Commission Chair Daran Wastchak.

Since 2016 the Planning Commission, town staff and hired consultants Environmental Planning Group and Michael Baker International have been developing the plan. Special Projects Coordinator Eva Cutro says about 20 months of work have gone into the master plan.

“It’s been a long road, we started this in October of 2016 so we’re about 20 months in,” she said. “We did a lot of public outreach, lots of meetings with stakeholder groups, with staff, commission and consultants.”

A Visually Significant Corridor, as defined in the 2012 General Plan, is “designated highly visible, prominent streets, including Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard.”

At 4.9 miles from 32nd Street to near Scottsdale Road, Lincoln Drive is the only street spanning the full west-east width of town. Likewise, Tatum Boulevard from McDonald Drive/45th Street to Shea Boulevard is the only street spanning the full south-north length of town at 3.5 miles long.

“The objective of the plan is to create a differentiating experience to the public when they enter the Town of Paradise Valley from the surrounding municipalities of Phoenix and Scottsdale,” Mr. Wastchak says.

Daran Wastchak

“To do this, the Plan has recommendations for new monument signage for the four primary entry points to the town on Lincoln and Tatum, and when people arrive at the confluence of these two major arterials, there will be significant enhancements to the intersection and each of the corners, which will complement the Barry Goldwater Memorial.”

The Visually Significant Corridors Master Plan includes guidelines for streetways, traffic calming and vegetation, while also calling for community aspects such as a “Pillars of the Community” area and a contemplation corner.

The “wow-factor” of the plan is decorated pavement eyed for the Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard intersection, commissioners say.

The Planning Commission discussed the plan for the final time on June 19, approving the recommended plan to Town Council with a 7-0 vote. Town Council is expected to discuss the plan on Sept. 27, Ms. Cutro says.

“I think this document, I’m quite proud of it,” said Commissioner Jonathan Wainwright.

“We’ve been mindful of our tradition of limited government, I think we’ve also done some good maneuvers here to improve the Paradise Valley brand, which I think also helps to improve our property values. I think it’s well done and everyone deserves some compliments on this.”

An artist’s rendering of a proposed enhanced intersection in Paradise Valley. (submitted photo)

20 months of planning

While being worked on for nearly two years, the Planning Commission is really the only group who has worked on the document, town officials say.

“The purpose of this document is to provide guidance (not requirements) for those making revisions to existing properties on both Lincoln and Tatum to enhance the beauty of our Town’s landscaping,” Planning Commissioner James Anton says.

“These truly are recommendations, not mandatory, to give people a guide.”

General guidelines of the plan state:

  • Entering into a Visually Significant Corridor should evoke a sense of leaving the urban jungle behind and arriving someplace special, less rushed and more tranquil;
  • A focus on the mountains and desert vegetation is encouraged through directing views and bringing elements of the mountains down into the streetscapes;
  • Pedestrians should also feel welcome with the human-scaled spaces and amenities included in the rights-of-way.

Mr. Wastchak points out three unique character zones along the corridors, he says will avoid stark uniformity.

“Where there are great views of the mountains, vegetation is kept low to reduce obstructions, and where mountain views are more obstructed by natural or existing conditions, the design focuses more on the streetscape with more trees, pedestrian furniture and artistic pedestrian walkways,” Mr. Wastchak says.

The crown jewel of the plan is the intersection of Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive, which includes street decorations and right-of-way details setting the area apart from the rest of the town.

Mr. Wastchak explained the crosswalks on Lincoln Drive will have a “lizard” skin color and texture theme, while Tatum Boulevard will have a tortoise shell texture and theme — creating the themes of “Lizards on Lincoln” and “Tortoises on Tatum.”

Additionally, a “Pillars of the Community Garden” is planned for the southwest corner to honor significant residents of the town, as done for Barry Goldwater on the northeast corner. And, a “Contemplation Corner” with benches and a shade structure for residents to sit and enjoy views of Camelback Mountain are slated for the northwest corner.

An artist’s rendering of a Visually Significant Corridor monument sign. (submitted photo)

“Both corner projects have been discussed as opportunities to collaborate with private donors to help fund their construction,” Mr. Wastchak says.

The colors shown in the plan were discussed by the Planning Commission, debating brighter colors versus dark red and brown hues.

“In conversations with Jeremy Knapp, who would be doing a lot of the implementation, colored concrete was generally his strong advice,” Mr. Wastchak said at the June 19 Planning Commission meeting.

“The more bright the colors, we do have issues, which you are aware of, of dulling over time. The process I know we still have to finalize — still a ways to go for that one piece, which is the heart of town.”

Mr. Anton called the decorated intersection the “wow factor” of the plan, noting that public dialogue will need to be done on many aspects of the plan including the enhanced intersection.

“I’m sure it will be controversial,” he said. “It will be turned into a bit of a wow factor. A lot of people will resist any change at all.”

Mr. Anton says he recommends reaching out to art students to design some of the needed visuals in the Visually Significant Corridors, much like Paradise Valley did when seeking a new monument sign design.

“You have two sets of thought: ‘this is Paradise Valley and we want our tourists to be excited about it,’ and the other is ‘I love the town just the way is.’ It will need a lot of public input,” he said.

With significant amount of help from town staff and their hired consultants, the Planning Commission was able to spend considerable time on the historic aspect of the master plan, Mr. Wastchak says.

“This allowed the Planning Commission to spend most of our time considering how the overall plan honored the history of, and enhanced the quality of life for the Town of Paradise Valley,” he said. “We were also able to pay close attention to the flow and feel of the document so that residents, the resorts, architects, developers and builders would find it most useful as they planned each of their projects.”

While the Visually Significant Corridors are in designated areas, the Planning Commissioners are hopeful that residents townwide will utilize the recommended guidelines and looks associated. Patterns of Nature, Resort Living and Rural Elegance are the three character zones identified, while a “good, better, best” guideline system has been created.

“The ‘character zones’ were beautifully designed and include detailed plant lists, which don’t just name the different plant types, but also provide a picture of the plant, show its colors when in bloom, list seasons for blooming and indicate the level of maintenance that can be expected,” Mr. Wastchak said.

“These lists would be very helpful to all residents when picking plants for their own properties.”

Mr. Anton also pointed out the plant lists, calling it a “treasure chest” for residents and developers alike.

“This is just a fabulous thing that will apply to anyone in our town — not just along the significant corridors — it’s a wonderful tool,” he said. “It truly is an avenue for all of us to do a better job.”

Mr. Wastchak notes that overall a major goal of the VSC plan is to evoke a feeling, even if it’s a feeling of disappointment when leaving the town.

“When they’ve left the town back to either Phoenix or Scottsdale, there will be a noticeable change back to typical neighborhood street and landscaping, perhaps even a bit of a letdown,” Mr. Wastchak said.

“If we can accomplish this sense of ‘arrival’ and also ‘destination’ for residents and our local and out of town visitors, then we will have accomplished the original ideas first suggested by the Visioning Committee in 2011, approved by voters in the 2012 General Plan, and made a quality of life priority by the Town Council in 2015.”

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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