North Central News

Proposed apartments raise density concerns

Scottsdale-based Wood Partners is in the process of acquiring a large chunk of assembled land just east of 7th Street and south of Maryland Avenue, in order to build approximately 245 high-end apartments. However, in order to build that many units, a Planned Urban Development (PUD) rezoning must first be approved by the city.

Several neighbors have come out in opposition of the PUD, saying the density is too high for the area that is largely single-story commercial and two-story older apartments which taper into single-story residential. The bulk of the project lies behind the strip center that includes Christo’s Ristorante and C&S Sporting Goods, and also juts to the north behind Inman & Sons.

Neighbors also worry about the only access and exit to the development being off Stella Lane, which means the new residents would have to turn left or right onto 7th Street, including during reverse lane hours.

It’s a safety concern and a traffic issue, meaning the new tenants might choose to cut through the neighborhood instead, opponents contend.

Wood Partners and its zoning attorney, Earl Curley & Lagarde, have held two community meetings, the first on June 6 the most recent on June 20. Large renderings of the proposed “Alta Marlette” development were available to view, and results of a traffic study commissioned by the developer also were laid out on several large poster boards.

The results compiled by J2 Engineering show little impact on the overall 7th Street traffic flow, and noted regular “gap” periods where the lights at Maryland Avenue and Rose Lane are red, allowing cars from Stella—which falls between the two lights—to exit onto 7th Street with little traffic flowing at that time. Some neighbors disputed the results, saying it is already very difficult to get in and out of the neighborhood off of 7th Street during reverse lane hours, and adding hundreds more cars to that equation is only going to make things worse.

Alta Marlette would offer high-end one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging in rent from $1,500 to $3,000, with some three-bedroom penthouse units available. A 420-space, four-story parking garage would lie within the interior of the project, not visible from the street. Zoning standards require one parking space per bedroom. That’s a lot more cars heading in and out of the area, opponents point out.

Neighbors also are worried that if the PUD is approved, it will open the door for other developers to come to the city with high-density infill projects in the midtown corridor using the same rezoning method to get around existing zoning height and density limits. Currently at least two other developers are considering similar projects within a couple of miles of Alta Marlette, but much closer to existing homes.

According to the Alta Marlette proposal, “This type of new housing in appropriate locations upgrades residential living choices and expands diversity, which in turn supports the existing and new restaurant venues as well as other commercial retail shops.”

The proposal has gone before the Camelback East Village Planning Committee for information purposes only, but the more detailed draft is still being reviewed by the Phoenix Planning Department and a staff report had not yet been issued as of press time. Once a staff report has been generated, the developer has the option to move the plan forward for a formal review and recommendation at the VPC, before it moves on to the Phoenix Planning Commission and finally the Phoenix City Council.

Camelback East VPC agendas are posted 10 days prior to scheduled meetings, which are 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month at the Devonshire Senior Center, 2802 E. Devonshire Ave. Agendas can be viewed online at www.phoenix.gov, under “Public Meetings.”

Comments regarding Alta Marlette can be sent to Stephen C. Earl at searl@eclaw.com, and to City Planner Adam Stranieri at adam.stranieri@phoenix.gov. Reference zoning case Z-27-17-6 in your communications.

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