Less Money. More Apartments. Genius.

Earlier this week the largest gallery on Scottsdale’s Main Street, Legacy Gallery, wrote of their support for the proposed Museum Square, envisioned to replace Scottsdale’s abandoned transit station at the far end of Old Town, adjacent to the Museum of the West.  Here is a link.

Like Legacy, we have written in support of the project too.  Click here and here.  Most recently, we opined aggressively for using the city proceeds of the sale, expected to be in the $27 million range, to benefit and boost the arts in the immediate area.  This amount does not include the $1 million plus annually in tourism, sales and property taxes.   Here is a link.

We reiterate our call now, especially as yet another landmark gallery and building, that of Riva Yares, has been put up for sale.  We hope it is an isolated incident and not the beginnings of what happened to Marshall Way when Bentley Gallery decided to take its large space to downtown Phoenix.

All of this as well as the back and forth got us thinking.  What if Museum Square goes down?  Or what if a decision is made to sell the land, restricting heights to the 60 feet now allowed?

First, there will be no or significantly reduced proceeds to help the Stagebrush Theater, Museum of the West, arts district marketing or to provide for additional parking as merchants are requesting.

Second, whether it is 60 feet or higher views will still be blocked.

Third, and this is where we thinks the kicker is.  Other projects in the area are proposing apartment densities of up to 129 per acre.  Museum Square’s are far less for a hotel and luxury condominiums.  Allow these to proceed and you will establish a precedent for apartments on the Museum Square/transit station site.  After all, it will not stay vacant forever.  Extrapolating such densities could result in some 650 apartment units on the site’s 5 acres in the future.  No hotel.  No public open and event space.  No high-end residents such as those at the Scottsdale Waterfront.

Project skeptics should beware of what they wish for.  No architecturally-significant Museum Square, a boost for the area and revenues that could and should be used for parking and other arts districts enhancements.  That’s not a pretty picture, unlike the ones you can find at Legacy Gallery.