By Zahra Ahmad for The Arizona Republic
A high-profile, but complicated, swath of land along a stretch of freeway in Scottsdale may soon transform from open desert to tall buildings.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company aims to acquire 136 acres of the land for its regional headquarters and other development that would support some 5,500 jobs.
The land improvements the project would require, along with rezoning approved by the Scottsdale City Council this month, could open far more land to development. The parcel Nationwide is eyeing is part of 1,000 acres of state trust land sitting on both sides of the freeway and referred to as Crossroads East.
The City Council also agreed to reimburse Nationwide up to $21.9M of the $33M that the company is expected to spend on public infrastructure, from roads to drainage.
Mayor Jim Lane said the project would provide infrastructure investment and continue to diversify the Scottsdale economy. “These deals don’t come along every day,” he said.
Jobs This Would Bring — or Keep
The Nationwide development is expected to employ 5,500 people, about 1,240 already working in the city with average salaries of $58,000, according to the city.
The company owns offices in Gainey Ranch and leases space in the Pima Center, which it would consolidate to the proposed new regional headquarters.
The company plans to grow that to 2,200 employees, with room to expand to 3,000 employees over time, Nationwide Realty Investor President Brian Ellis said.
Another 2,500 jobs would be created by the other development Nationwide plans, according to Danielle Casey, the city’s economic development director.
Taller Buildings, Denser Development
Nationwide hopes to build 115-foot, or roughly 10-story, buildings along the freeway, which is 31 feet higher than Scottsdale’s standard.
The height of buildings would drop as the development moves north toward Legacy Boulevard, and nearer the Grayhawk neighborhood.
Along with about 1MSF of office space, the development calls for two 78 to 130-room hotels, 50KSF-200KSF of retail space and 1,200 to 1,600 residential units, according to the city.
City documents show the project would be built in three 5-year phases:
- Phase 1: 460KSF of office space for regional headquarters.
- Phase 2: A hotel and the development of 207KSF to 320KSF of office space and 25KSF of retail space by year 10.
- Phase 3: Another hotel and 207KSF to 320KSF of office space.
Who Pays for What?
The city will reimburse Nationwide as much as $7.3M from its general fund every 5 years for three phases of investment in public infrastructure. The development agreement requires the company to complete specific amounts of development and employment to receive the payments.
To accommodate the increase in traffic, the project will require the construction of a Miller Road underpass. Other examples of public infrastructure investments that would qualify for city reimbursement include:
- Public sidewalks and landscaping on Legacy and Hayden roads
- Water and sewer along frontage road from Miller to Hayden
- Construction of Miller Road from Legacy Road south to midpoint of the project
- Hayden Road traffic signal and public deceleration lanes
- Two and four-lane public roads within project.
Nationwide also will put in an estimated initial $3.3M in infrastructure in exchange for the city approving the additional building heights. Those improvements will include $1.3M for drainage and $2M to widen Hayden Road from four to six lanes to accommodate increased traffic.
Acquiring State Trust Land
Despite 2 years of planning, Nationwide still must acquire the 136 acres from the Arizona State Land Department. State land is auctioned off primarily to benefit public education.
If Nationwide wins the bid later this summer, construction for the project will begin in 2019.
State Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins estimated the 136 acres is valued at $83M.
Read more at The Arizona Republic.
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