An Ambitious Development Project Planned for Scottsdale: Will It Make It Through the City Council Gauntlet?

Credit: City of Scottsdale

The Scottsdale city council took a strong turn away from growth and development-focused dais under Mayor Lane to a rather development-hesitant one under Mayor Ortega starting in 2020. Many projects have failed to secure the needed votes to come to fruition, frustrating numerous developers and other professionals involved. So a new proposed project raised both eyebrows for its ambition and questions regarding its ability to be approved.

This proposed “mega project” is poised to be built around the Scottsdale Airpark if approved. Named “The Parque”, it is intended to be built on the site of the old CrackerJax amusement park, and ambitious would be an understatement. It is the epitome of “mixed use”, with a five-star hotel, restaurants, 1,200 condo units and over a quarter of a million square feet in commercial space in the works.

Many ambitious projects have failed to survive the gauntlet of the current makeup of city council. What might make this one different?

First, the fact that it’s strongly mixed-use, not just primarily an apartment complex with a few sweeteners to get the mixed-use moniker. Mayor Ortega is a former architect and has brought a stringent set of standards with his votes, one which has rubbed off on other councilmembers. He has been critical of projects that seem to stretch the definition of “mixed-use”, but this time it’s no stretch. This is the true definition of the term.

Also, along with the stated trappings, this project proposes a few features that seem to be catering to the left-leaning, growth-hesitant members of council. With shading trees, a yoga lawn and native decorative plantings, it seems as though the current depictions are tailor-made to appeal to certain council members that are much less likely to greenlight such a large project.

However, benefits and features are not enough. Such relative minutiae such as accounting for traffic have tripped up past projects, and that particular issue provides a daunting task. To have a hotel, 1,200 condo units and restaurants there, that represents a massive increase in potential traffic which needs to be accounted for. Drawing sketches and proposing ideas are easy in comparison to making that aspect of it work in a way that won’t be critiqued into a No vote.

The spirit of this project is fantastic in its ambition. But with grand ambition comes a lot of parameters to account for in order to pass through a majority growth-hesitant city council. I hope they’ve put as much thought into the nuts and bolts of the “small things” as they have the “big picture”.