SmokeTree Debate Begins in PV

Credit: Paradise Valley Independent

By Terrance Thornton for Paradise Valley Independent

Earlier this year the SmokeTree Resort property at 7101 E. Lincoln Drive changed hands for a reported $10M, and new ownership is eying a new chapter for the boutique resort on the edge of paradise.

The original resort, established in 1966, is now under the guise of a partnership between Phoenix-based Geneva Holdings and Scottsdale-based Ventana Hotels and Resorts.

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected to begin municipal deliberations regarding the special use permit amendment application May 24.

Paradise Valley Interim-Community Development Director Paul Michaud confirms internal review of the SUP amendment application is underway.

Embedded within the project’s narrative, filed May 4, is an idea to bring a four-star boutique resort to life at the SmokeTree site.

“The vision for the transformation of the Smoke Tree Resort is to welcome guests to a four star ‘local-centric’ hospitality experience in both form and substance. This is to be achieved through active forward-facing components and lifestyle programmatic aspects,” the project narrative reads filed on behalf of Gentree LLC, the entity with ownership rights to the property.

“The existing resort often goes unnoticed in its unassuming character along Lincoln Drive, with only 23 of its 32 guest rooms currently in use.”

The 5.3-acre site is at what development officials have coined, the “commercial interface” of Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road, the narrative states.

At first blush, basic elements of the SUP amendment requests are:

  • 150 hotel guest rooms with 30 additional resort dwelling units for resort residences to be privately owned, but part of the overall guest room rentals;
  • Proposed building heights are no higher than three stories ascending to two different tiers; one is 36 feet while the other is 44 feet.
  • Restaurant, bar, and markets with some resort retail associated.
  • Group hall to accommodate events.
  • Event gardens for ceremonies and special events.
  • Resort pool areas.
  • Combined surface and underground valet parking of 90 cars each.

Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke explains at first look, the SUP amendment proposal is in-tune with resort development of the 21st Century – a mixed commercial use, more rooms and a real estate element.

Burke anticipates a Statement of Direction – a set of marching orders for the council’s Planning Commission to dissect the proposal with town council rendering the final decision.

Burke estimated the SUP application could be before the Planning Commission in mid-June.

The Buck Stops Here

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins says the General Plan calls for a revitalized SmokeTree Resort – and that’s what he hopes will come to fruition, he says.

“Redevelopment of the SmokeTree Resort would represent the completion of the long-range resort redevelopment planning efforts that started with town-wide approval of the 2012 General Plan update,” he said.

“This East Lincoln South Redevelopment Area, which includes the new Hyatt Andaz Resort, represents the last planned resort redevelopment area within the town. It is gratifying to see the possible completion of our long-term resort redevelopment planning efforts, which will provide enduring financial security for the town and will ensure that residents will never need to pay a local property tax to keep our town safe, operationally effective, and looking beautiful.”

With commercial and residential uses surrounding the property, Collins points out a unique solution will be struck between municipality and development.

Read more at Paradise Valley Independent.

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