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Senior Dev Planned Near Future Light Rail Line

Credit: City of Phoenix

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Even though the South Central Light Rail Extension is still in the design phase and won’t be in operation until 2023, at least one developer is planning ahead and creating an 80-unit, three-story senior living complex that will lie directly between two planned stops along the route.

In a Planned Unit Development submitted to the City of Phoenix in December, Bethel Development, Inc. laid out its vision for a long-vacant 2.56 gross acre site at the SEC of South Central and East Sunland avenues. “The goals are to develop the property with an age-restricted multifamily development for seniors 55 and up, with a design that promotes walkability and access to the planned light rail,” the submittal states. As such, the development will be designed and built in accordance with the city’s Walkable Urban Code and Transit Oriented Development guidelines.

Sunland Senior Living will offer 62 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom units. Sizes will range from 661SF-861SF. Construction of the regional postmodern, 91.5KSF structure will be wood frame. The main and secondary colors will be a yellowish cream and tan, with black accent trim and brown brick.

Access to the site will be via Sunland, and the existing curb cuts on Central will be removed. Sidewalks already in place will be enhanced to promote pedestrian ease of use. These enhancements include widening and, in some areas, detaching the sidewalk from the curb. The proposal claims the current pedestrian experience in the area is less-than-friendly, with cracked or nonexistent sidewalks and a complete lack of shade.

Depending on the location of the complex’s water line, shading will be provided either through planted shade trees or building-attached shade structures. “The improved pedestrian connections, enhanced landscaping and the newly developed site will allow for increased activity and energy at this important neighborhood node adjacent to the light rail, while also addressing security for the residents,” the developer claims. At least 75 percent of sidewalks adjacent to the property will be shaded.

Parking will be at-grade and screened from view. The plan also includes parking for up to 32 bicycles. Planned on-site amenities include a barbeque and picnic area, community room, workout facility, computer training room and space for supportive services.

Sunland Senior Living is the latest proposal in the light rail corridor’s ongoing development and construction boom. Between 2005 – when the light rail began construction – and July of 2015, development activity within a half mile of the first 20 miles of light rail topped $8.2B, according to Valley Metro.

Bethel Development, Inc. is the Owner/Developer and is represented by Aday Graff PC. Athena Studio, LLC is the architect. Bethel’s in-house firm, Qualcon Builders, LLC, will serve as general contractor. Reached by telephone, a Bethel Development representative confirmed no preliminary construction timeline has been established yet. Bethel’s website shows a portfolio of more than 1,800 units in 23 developments across Arizona, New Mexico and Ohio, where the company is headquartered.

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