Shuttered buildings along Lincoln Drive at about 56th Street have been an established concern and many Paradise Valley residents have lobbied to see revitalization come to what was once known as the Mountain Shadows Golf Resort.
Representatives of Crown Realty & Development - along with Solage Hotels and Resorts, the entity that may operate the proposed resort community - say they are ready to develop the now defunct resort property.
From an elected leader who lives directly in the Mountain Shadows community to a long-time Paradise Valley resident all interviewed agree recent activity within Paradise Valley Town Hall is positive.
But concerns still linger because no one really knows how the final product will look, feel and change a beloved Paradise Valley landmark because what the local governing board recently
approved is based on a concept, not a black-and-white site plan.
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Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow says the idea of approving a concept is a major point of concern.
"I think some people believe that the rendering the applicant has published is what will be built at Mountain Shadows," he said in a July 3 written statement. "Whatever the applicant is showing around as far as a ‘plan' goes ... (it) is not a ‘site plan' and that the process is not allowing the town to see what we are signing off on."
Councilman Dembow explains the pending revamp project is complex because of the usage of a previous development agreement and a pending special-use permit application.
"The applicant can show a rendering and build something that is different if it complies with the development agreement and the SUP. This process has been instituted to get Mountain
Shadows moving forward," he pointed out.
"This process will also require the town to assume the worst-case scenario with the approvals given at the end of the day to make sure that whatever is ultimately built works on the site."
Paradise Valley Town Council June 28 issued what it calls a Statement of Direction - an official guideline issued to the planning commission alerting members to the scope of its scrutiny for the project - following a little more than four hours of discussion.
The SOD covers myriad topics including building heights, floor-area measurements to be used, open-space elements, setback requirements and what can and cannot be taken out of the existing golf course.
The Paradise Valley Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the project's merit 6 p.m. July 17 at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.
Paradise Valley Town Council will have the final say in the matter - that vote may come in late September or early October - while the planning commission will offer its recommendation no
later than Sept. 25, according to Maria Syms, Paradise Valley Planning Commission chairwoman.
Crown Realty officials contend the underlying issue of the proposed redevelopment of the property hinges on two documents: A 1992 development agreement and a 1962 declaration of restrictions placed on attached residential property.
Of concern is that on July 26 the property in question will enter into an estate sale.
Robert Flaxman, president and CEO of Crown Realty & Development, has acknowledged the company's loan for the property totaling $32 million is in default, but says a 50-50 partnership struck between Solage and Crown will keep the property from entering foreclosure.
‘Diamond in the rough'
Concerns raised by residents of Mountain Shadows, both east and west, revolve around what may happen to their executive-level golf course, while town officials are cognizant of both
density levels and building heights.
Paradise Valley Councilman Vernon Parker, who lives in one of the approximate 100 homes surrounding what once was the Mountain Shadows Golf Resort, says from a resident perspective he
hopes this time is the right time for a revitalization effort.
"I really hope that the process goes all the way through - the residents are very excited to get something done," he said in a July 2 phone interview. "I am hoping the developer can work
with the town to get it done."
Councilman Parker called the resort property a "diamond in the rough."
"I can tell you this: The town has bent over backwards," he said of efforts like approving an SOD based solely on building concepts. "I don't want to see the town in such dire straits to
get something done that it gives away too much to Mountain Shadows."
Councilman Parker says his fellow Mountain Shadows residents fear the encroachment of tall buildings and density levels will impact the tranquil lifestyle many enjoy in the neighborhoods
surrounding the established golf course.
"I have concerns about the density," he pointed out. "As it stands now, if there is not changes to this development agreement then many of the town residents would not be totally pleased."
When asked directly if he thought the revitalization of Mountain Shadows would see the light of day, Councilman Parker replied, "Honestly there are some days I believe that this thing is going to through then there are other days that I say, ‘I don't know about this one.'"
Mountain Shadows resident Ian Grant-Whyte, a prolific supporter of the redevelopment of the resort property, says residents are going to have to give a little to get what is in everyone's best interests.
"I have supported Crown for many years and I still support it," he said in a July 3 phone interview. "They (Crown) have well intentions, but I think the problem in Paradise Valley is we want our cake and we want to eat it, too."
Mr. Grant-Whyte says compromise is paramount in a development of this grandeur.
"We mustn't bite the potential hand that feed us," he quipped. "There may be some minor changes to the golf course and there may have to be for these guys to make a profit - so be it. We
have to realize that change is imminent."
News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 via e-mail at email@example.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/nvnewsman