Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Biltmore Goes This Week For Condo Zoning

Biltmore Goes This Week For Condo Zoning
By Erica Sagon The Arizona Republic


The owner of Biltmore Fashion Park will apply for a zoning change this week that would let people live on the mall site.

Rezoning the site to allow residential development is one of the hurdles Phoenix-based Westcor says it has left to jump before building two 165-foot towers containing condominiums and a hotel at the east end of the property, which sits between 24th and 26th streets on Camelback Road.

The property is already approved for stores, restaurants, offices and hotels. But new zoning for condominiums in the future buildings, which could loom 13 to 16 stories each with retail on the ground floor, is part of Westcor's larger plan to revitalize the aging outdoor mall.

Construction crews are also working to modernize the exterior of the 600,000-square-foot Biltmore Fashion Park, which was built in 1963 and was once the Valley's trophy shopping center.

The renovations should be finished by Thanksgiving, in time for the holiday shopping season. New upscale retailers will begin to open next summer and fall.

Not Attached

Although the condos and hotel wouldn't be attached to the main shopping center, their proximity to the stores and restaurants would help drive traffic to the mall, especially in the evening when shopping tends to slow down, said David Scholl, Senior Vice President of development for Westcor.

"What we're doing out there today is reinvesting in the property's sense of place," Scholl said. "We think this address can be spruced up."

In May, Westcor and other developers got the green light from the city to build as high as 165 feet in the Camelback Corridor, an area highly sought after by developers including Donald Trump.

2 Towers

Westcor's plans call for two towers at the maximum height with 75 to 125 residences and 120 to 170 hotel rooms, Scholl said. It is unclear how the condominiums and hotel would be divided between the buildings, which will have underground parking. In one scenario, hotel rooms would occupy the first few levels of each building and condos would take up the higher floors, which would have better views.

Three buildings that now house shops and restaurants on the east end of the site would be knocked down late next year to make room for the two towers, if new zoning is approved. Westcor would recoup the lost retail space by putting in shops, and possibly a gourmet grocer, on the ground level of the towers.

Westcor is "courting retailers from New York and L.A. that haven't yet entered the market" for the entire site, said Mary Boyd, a senior leasing manager for Westcor's high-end malls. She declined to name specific retailers.

Has Worked Closely

Councilman Greg Stanton said he does not foresee any opposition to Westcor's next step, the request for residential zoning, because the company has worked closely with the city and neighbors to transform Biltmore Fashion Park into a mixed-use development. Some neighborhood groups have opposed high-rises in the area, resulting in several months of debate with developers and the city.

Westcor and other developers face another hiccup: There isn't enough water pressure to build new high-rises along Camelback Road. Developers won't be able to get building permits for new projects in the area until the water issue is worked out.

"We've got all this momentum with hotels, all this momentum by condo interest and retail interest," Scholl said, "and we can't build a tower."

To find a home in or near The Biltmore Area, call Laura Boyajian, aka, Laura B. directly today at 602.400.0008, or you can search directly at her website at:

http://www.historiccentralphoenix.com

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