Recently, the Paradise Valley Independent did a commendable job reporting on the Town of Paradise Valley Planning Commission’s rejection of a proposed supersizing of the SmokeTree Hotel property. You can read it here.
The last quote in the story, propagated by the development’s zoning attorney, said this: “ . . . in order to build a new resort that’s going to be viable on the property, we need resort rooms (going from 26 to 115) that provide the critical mass that creates an enjoyable resort experience.”
First, the most learned evaluator on either Paradise Valley’s Planning Commission or Town Council – former, long-time General Manager of the Camelback Inn Jim Rose – derided the notion of the current proposal as a “resort.” Instead, he called the plan “motel-style.”
He and others have also made observations that the new SmokeTree plan violates the Town’s General Plan which calls for a resort, certainly not a motel on the site. It’s important to remember that the community’s General Plan was passed with 80% of the vote.
Second, the ONLY reason the developer (which has never done a resort or hotel project) wants to put unprecedented density on the property is because it paid too much for the land. And as we have said before it is not anyone’s job to bail out a developer with a density subsidy.
Additionally, what happens with SmokeTree will matter to the upcoming redevelopment of the Scottsdale Plaza Resort property up the street. Give away too much density now and watch what happens later. Perhaps the hundreds of neighbors around and near Scottsdale Plaza should be alerted to the stakes?
Finally, were SmokeTree to somehow maneuver its way to approval despite a Planning Commission rejection and both narrow and broad opposition, it will most certainly be an issue in Paradise Valley’s 2022 mayoral and council elections. For the most part candidates sing from the same hymnal. Strong public safety. Maintain the town’s character. No way to a property tax. That’s what makes fault lines all the more important. Did you vote for the densest project in the community’s history, or not? Did you respect the voter-approved General Plan, or not? Did you affirm the thorough review of the Planning Commission, or not?