North Phoenix Baptist Church, 5757 N. Central Ave., has entered into an agreement with a developer to build on just under 8 acres of the church’s land that currently is occupied by mostly unused parking spaces. The land is zoned R1-10, which allows for 3 to a maximum of 4.5 dwelling units per acre.
The church put the matter before its congregation for a vote earlier this year, and the congregation agreed to sell off the underutilized land.
IPA-Arizona has submitted preliminary plans to the city of Phoenix to build a 146-unit senior care community, which would be an L-shaped project starting along Bethany Home Road and then turning south along the east property line. The main buildings would be three stories tall, at a maximum of 53 feet, while the less-intensive Memory Care unit, located at the south end of the project, would be two stories.
Significant setbacks are included to buffer the residential units from adjacent roadways and neighborhoods. The campus itself is laid out in an L-shape, with the primary activity core for the residents being located at the northeast corner of the main building. The resident wings extend out to the west and south from this core.
The application for Generations: North Central Phoenix says the development is “best described as a residential use,” and therefore it is “appropriate for inclusion in proximity to single-family residential uses, light office uses, as well as the quasi-public use of the church.”
The project’s outdoor amenity areas, such as the pool, main outdoor dining area and dog park, are located away from Bethany Home Road and are buffered by the buildings themselves. Accessory uses are anticipated that may include dining, fitness and media rooms, as well as quasi-commercial accessory uses such as a bistro and salon that, while resident-focused, may provide service to off-site guests (such as resident-invited visitors).
The application describes Generations as “complementary and compatible with existing land uses.” The project, which is being designed as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), has caught the attention of the North Central Phoenix Homeowners Association (NCPHA), which has come out strongly in opposition to the proposed development.
The NCPHA opposes the project for several reasons, laid out in a letter sent to its members, the city of Phoenix and other nearby neighborhood groups, citing that the size, scale and architecture of the proposal is “completely inappropriate for our North Central neighborhood.”
According to the NCPHA’s letter, “The PUD process allows IPA to circumvent the underlying conventional zoning and create their own standards, which in this case, IPA is requesting commercial use on residentially-zoned land. There are no PUDs in North Central. The NCPHA believes that developers should respect the current conventional zoning in mature neighborhoods like ours, where we have been zoned residential for over 120 years.”
NCPHA leaders also are concerned about what kind of precedent this might set for future development.
“We have over 100 acres of church land within the NCPHA borders. Allowing commercial development on residential land will start the domino effect and provide money-making opportunities for churches who are having financial difficulty (or those that are growing and may need to move their congregation to a larger site).”
“We have spent countless hours meeting with the city, the church and the developer but to no avail,” said Mary Crozier, president of the NCPHA. “The developer is now aggressively pursuing this issue, which should have been stopped at the city Planning and Development level.”
The project, which was submitted to the city for review on Aug. 16, was presented to the members of the Alhambra Village Planning Committee at its Sept. 27 meeting. The item was for presentation and discussion only; the VPC did not take a vote or make a recommendation. It is not scheduled for further public review at this time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: the developer has scheduled two public meetings about the project this month, both in the Fellowship Center at North Phoenix Baptist Church, 5757 N. Central Ave. Those meetings are: 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Monday, Oct. 17.