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Board Considers Fashion Square’s Future

Map courtesy of City of Scottsdale

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Major changes could be in store for Scottsdale Fashion Square if the city approves developer Macerich’s vision plan for the iconic location.

In a submission to Scottsdale’s Development Review Board, the company has requested zoning and building elevation changes to enable future projects and uses similar to the area’s Scottsdale Waterfront and AmTrust tower developments.

Currently capped at 65 feet, Macerich’s request would change the maximum building height to 150 feet. The proposal also calls for a floor area ratio increase to 3.2MSF from 2.48 and would allow dwelling units up to a density of 25 per acre.

In its submitted plan, the company says the changes will allow it the flexibility to draw significant future mixed-use development in keeping with Downtown Scottsdale’s evolving character. Potential projects could include hotel, residential, office and retail. The option of, “a high-end organic grocer,” is specifically mentioned.

Fashion Square As a Reflection of Scottsdale

Originally built in 1961 with two anchor stores, and expanded in 1971 to include a third, Scottsdale Fashion Square underwent major expansion in the 1980s and 90s.

After a series of renovations and redevelopment efforts, the mall ultimately became a destination space for luxury retailers, drawing names such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co., among others, and becoming the 13th-largest enclosed mall in the country.

Scottsdale Fashion Square currently draws more than 12M visitors a year and employs approximately 3,500 people. It is the state’s largest mall, generating $52M in sales tax revenues for the city each year. Nearly 70 percent of the downtown area and 16 percent of all gross receipts for the city are generated through the 67-acre site.

Like many, if not most, parts of the Valley, the mall and Downtown Scottsdale were long established as “automotive destinations,” virtually requiring visitors to drive to and from. In recent years, however, plans and development have focused on more mixed-use live/work/play projects. This has meant taller buildings and a wider range of offerings in a given space to give people access to pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation travel rather than having to make multiple wide-flung stops to meet their needs.

Macerich embraces this evolution in its proposal, intending to incorporate open space, stronger pedestrian connectivity, enhanced streetscape design and other urban design considerations for all of the site’s future developments, in keeping with Scottsdale’s planning vision and criteria for the Downtown area.

According to the submission, “These policies should assist in the continued transformation of Downtown into a highly efficient mixed-use center and complete urban neighborhood community where residents and visitors can live, work, and thrive.”


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