New Master-Planned Mixed-Use Planned for N. 29th Ave.

29th & Sonoran Desert Townhome & Commercial. Credit: Norris Design/City of Phoenix

By Roland Murphy for AZBEX

A new residential and commercial master plan is set to add to the burgeoning development in the area of I-17 and Loop 303.

Property owner Britmet Ventures LLC and developer Blueprint Capital have submitted a request to the City of Phoenix to rezone 40.04 acres at the NEC of Sonoran Desert Drive and the 29th Avenue alignment in the far north of the city. If approved and built as planned, the project will produce 360 traditional apartments on the northwest portion of the site, 259 Build-to-Rent townhomes on the eastern half, and 26KSF of commercial space in the southwest.

The area has been developing steadily for years. The Honor Health Sonoran Crossing Medical Center sits a little more than 1.25 miles to the northwest, and the well-established Sonoran Foothills area lies to the east across North Valley Parkway.

Development interest was kicked into high gear by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company plant approximately two miles to the west. There are currently four residential projects in development in the immediate area of the Sonoran Drive site totaling more than 1,100 units and estimated construction costs in excess of $215M.

Adding to the “quality of life” development in the area is the Legacy Sports Arena and Hotel Project, which will add a nearly 175KSF multi-sport indoor arena and 92 hotel rooms.

Request Details

The 29th & Sonoran Desert Master Plan request seeks to remove the site from the North Gateway Planned Community District. The PCD was established in 2001 with the expectation of a master developer would create the necessary infrastructure. Since no master developer ever installed the infrastructure, and since the parcels are individually owned, the PCD is considered defunct, according to the project’s October 12th staff report. Rezoning is necessary to develop an individual property outside the original PCD’s infrastructure requirements.

The PCD included an approved mid-rise overlay to promote density. Staff has determined removing the overlay that is consistent with both the new plan’s proposed building heights and with heights of developments already in the area.

Townhomes

The townhouse portion of the development will provide 259 rental units, with a breakdown of 128 one-bedroom, 77 two-bedroom and 54 three-bedroom units. All units will have rear patios and garages. Planned amenities include a pool, ramadas and a barbecue area, as well as trail space that connects the northern and southern portions of the property. A minimum open space allotment of 5% is required, which the development plan exceeds by incorporating a common improved area of nearly 7.5%.

Apartments

The apartment section will include 360 units in 15 40-foot-tall buildings. There will be two central open spaces with one amenity apiece. No unit count was provided with the initial submission.

Commercial

The plan’s commercial request proposes four buildings, three of which are slated for drive-thru restaurants. The fourth space’s use has not been specified.

Staff Findings and Stipulations

In its initial review of the proposal, planning staff found the plan to be generally consistent with development goals for the area, including the creation of additional employment and housing opportunities.

Staff notes in the report that several owners and stakeholders within the Planned Community District have commissioned a traffic study from CivTech to analyze the roadway network’s overall capacity. Once the study is complete, the applicants will have to submit it for approval as part of the project’s stipulations.

Staff also stipulated 7% of the townhome and 20% of the multifamily portion be retained as open space.

Building heights will be limited to three stories and 36 feet for the townhome section, three stories and 40 feet for the apartments, and one story and 25 feet for the commercial buildings.

Like all residential developments in Phoenix, shade and connectivity were among the staff concerns. At least 75% of pedestrian areas will have to be shaded by landscaping or structures. Regarding pedestrian walkways, staff stipulated there must be connectivity between the multifamily and commercial components, and pedestrian pathways must connect to all building entrances, sidewalks and amenities to provide pedestrians with the most direct route. Lastly, a multi-use trail at least 10-feet-wide will be constructed on the north side of Sonoran Desert Drive.

Staff received one letter in opposition to the project, citing concerns about traffic and public safety.

Status

The North Gateway Village Planning Committee recommended approval of the rezoning request at its October 14th meeting. The Phoenix Planning Commission also recommended approval in a November 4th hearing.

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