Guest Editorial: The proposed Axon development is the wrong fit for Scottsdale

By Jan Dubauskas

You may have heard about the proposed Axon development, the largest apartment project ever proposed in the history of Scottsdale. The company’s CEO describes it as a live, work, and play campus.

We’re proud to have Scottsdale’s own Rick Smith headquartering Axon here with their incredible safety and defense technology. In addition to 1,975 apartments, he’s proposing an updated headquarters and a 425-room hotel for their conventions. I support the headquarters upgrade and hotel. But the proposed apartments are the wrong fit and a bad deal for Scottsdale.

Why? These massive live and work tech campuses aren’t Scottsdale’s style, and there are larger concerns. Axon purchased the land from the state land trust at a significant discount while similar apartment developers were buying multifamily land at a higher price. While I am not in favor of 2,000 new apartments, any conversation about zoning should start with making the schools whole. Arizona schools are in dire straits and should not in any way subsidize any apartment projects.

In addition, the project didn’t sufficiently account for water usage or airport noise. It would cause congestion on nearby roads and could diminish the property values and quality of life for nearby communities in North Scottsdale. And the new apartments aren’t necessary to meet Axon’s housing needs, as ~15,000 new apartments have already been approved and many are under construction nearby in Scottsdale. Thousands of these apartments will be in the immediate area of the proposed development including 1,300 new Optima apartments, and the Parque, which was recently approved to build over 1,100 apartments.

At the end of the day, this Axon project just doesn’t meet the bar for Scottsdale development.

Finally, in the interest of the integrity of Council’s decisions, I am calling on Councilmembers who have accepted campaign donations from Axon, its employees, representatives, or any entity which may reasonably have business before the Council to return those donations, recuse themselves from any business those entities may have before the Council, and decline any such campaign donations moving forward.