By Joshua Bowling for The Arizona Republic
One month after Scottsdale Fashion Square unveiled plans for a 12-phase renovation and expansion that would affect every square foot of the mall, the Scottsdale City Council voted to let property owners build 150-foot towers on the north end of the property.
The 5-2 vote also comes one month after nearly 300 residents filed a petition against the expansion.
Most buildings more than 60 feet tall require special city approval. Most of the Fashion Square property was already zoned for 90 feet.
A 103-foot-tall office building on the mall’s property is currently the tallest structure.
Supporters said the expansion would allow Fashion Square, which attracts millions of tourists each year and generates 71 percent of downtown Scottsdale’s sales tax, to bring in more business.
More than 20 people spoke in favor of the expansion at the council meeting.
Opponents said more shopping and residences near the mall will aggravate traffic on what they call an already-congested stretch of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, and the increased height and density will jeopardize the mountain views that brought them to Scottsdale.
“The west’s most western town will become the west’s most Chicago-like town,” said Stephen McConnell, a Waterfront resident.
What’s in Store for the Expansion?
While plans for the expansion were announced in December, many details surrounding the 150-foot buildings still aren’t clear.
The mall is owned by Macerich, which had submitted wide-ranging plans for the new buildings to include residences, a new hotel and office spaces.
Land-use attorney John Berry, who represents Macerich, said the plans are purposely broad. It’s not clear how many buildings will go in or if they’ll house condos, apartments, hotels, or a combination of the three, he said.
In return for the increased height, Macerich will pay more than $750K to a city trust fund for downtown cultural improvements.
While the City Council approved the zoning change Tuesday night, Macerich will have to present plans to the Development Review Board for the site south of Highland Avenue, between Goldwater Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.
The renovations are starting in its luxury wing, which includes retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s. The first phase of renovations will start in September and is expected to finish in fall 2018.
Opposition from Nearby Neighborhoods
While most of the public comments at Tuesday night’s meeting were in favor of the expansion, it’s been a point of contention for some nearby residents.
Included in Tuesday night’s agenda item were 478 signatures in favor of the expansion and nearly 300 signatures against the expansion.
A group of residents from the Scottsdale Waterfront and Optima Camelview Village condominiums in July formed the SFS Mall Oversight Group and filed a petition against the expansion with the city.
Read more at The Arizona Republic.
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