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Glendale annexes 865 acres, approves controversial housing development

Glendale annexed the 865-acre Allen Ranches property this week, the city’s second-largest addition in 25 years, and approved a controversial housing development within it.

Southwest Valley residents who opposed increasing the allowed density on the 250-acre housing development within Allen Ranches won a victory earlier this month when the Glendale Planning Commission rejected the developer’s request for increased housing density. That victory was short-lived, however, as the Planning Commission’s action on the density change is only a suggestion to City Council, which has final say. Council disagreed with the Planning Commission and voted unanimously approved an increase from a maximum of 2.5 homes per acre to 3.5 homes per acre. The developer can now build the 760 homes it had planned instead of the 625-home maximum it would have been reduced to under the Planning Commission’s recommendation. Read more

Idaho developer has eye on downtown Phoenix land for multifamily project

Boise, Idaho-based Hawkins Cos. is in the midst of rezoning a downtown Phoenix parcel that will pay tribute to Lincoln Ragsdale, a prominent Phoenix civil rights leader and previous owner of the site. Plans call for building a five-story multifamily property with ground floor retail at the northwest corner of Washington and 12th streets that will be named The Ragsdale.

Hawkins is in escrow to purchase the 2.9-acre parcel as the company works its way through the rezoning process, said Jason Morris, a partner for Withey Morris PLC and zoning attorney for the project. He said he expects escrow to close contingent upon entitlements. Read more

Arizona Lawyers Confront The COVID Landscape

Adam Baugh:  We’ve been quick to pivot. All public city meetings have been cancelled. Not just public hearings (Planning & Zoning, City Council, and neighbor meetings) but even ongoing, daily staff meetings where we resolve site plan and land use issues by working with staff.  Face-to-face neighbor outreach is paused which makes it difficult to resolve potential concerns. The list goes on. But development must go, and we have found ways to adapt and be resilient. Virtual neighbor meetings are one method, conference calls with staff, Webex meetings with staff, online submittals, virtual inspections, virtual site tours, online plan review, and more. We’ve found ways to advance cases even when the municipal buildings are closed to the public.  Read more

Attorney: Phoenix development deadline extensions add flexibility amid pandemic

The city of Phoenix and several other governmental agencies around the country have extended development deadlines to give developers and businesses increased flexibility during the pandemic. Here’s how the new guidelines break down, from construction permits and plan reviews to preliminary plats. Read more

Sunbelt Holdings gets nod on Phoenix Country Club condos

A controversial condominium tower four years in the making has received unanimous approval from the Phoenix City Council.

At a virtual zoning hearing that lasted about two hours on May 6, Council gave the green light to Scottsdale-based Sunbelt Holdings Inc. to build an $85 million condominium on what currently is a parking lot at Phoenix Country Club at the northeast corner of Seventh Street and Thomas Road.

Over the past four years, the project has had seven public hearings and roughly 20 private neighborhood meetings, said Jason Morris, a partner for Withey Morris PLC and zoning attorney representing Sunbelt Holdings on the case. Read more

Attorneys: Downturn amid Covid-19 may be good time to rezone property

While many investors and developers are waiting out the pandemic before making any major business decisions, some Valley lawyers said now might be the best time for property owners to look at increasing the value of their land, either through rezoning to a more valuable use or taking a look at existing entitlements. “There were a lot of lessons that came out of the recession,” said Adam Baugh, partner at Withey Morris PLC, a Vally firm that specializes in land use cases. “Those who saw opportunities in chaos; those who were willing to find value or opportunity in tough situations were very successful.” Read more

Withey Morris PLC And Three Attorneys Recognized Among The Best By Chambers USA 2020

PHOENIX, AZ – Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business recognized prominent Arizona land use law firm Withey Morris PLC, among the best firms in Arizona, along with three individual attorneys. William F. Allison, Jason B. Morris and Michael B. Withey were among the top lawyers in Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use practices. Chambers USA, considered the most trusted worldwide law resource guide, ranks the top lawyers and law firms across all the United States of America. Rankings are the result of thousands of in-depth interviews by the largest research team of its kind that is trusted across the globe to objectively rank the world’s best lawyers and law firms. Read more

Virtual Neighborhood Meeting Provides Glimpse Into Future Business Practices

COVID-19 has altered all of our businesses and daily lives. Because of this impact, it’s vital to stay nimble and adaptive when considering new norms – and look for opportunities to improve your business practices.

One prime example is our approach to conducting neighbor meetings. Our firm, Withey Morris PLC, a land use and zoning law firm, recently held a virtual meeting with neighbors to discuss a proposed luxury multi-family project. Typically, a neighborhood meeting would involve inviting nearby residents to a local church or school to address any concerns about the project. In this instance, we instead sent nearby residents a GoToMeeting link and they took part in the meeting without leaving their homes. During the meeting, we introduced ourselves, showed exhibits on their screens and answered questions from neighbors via the chat section. Read more

Michael Withey and Jason Morris Recognized as Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona

Michael Withey and Jason Morris, founding partners of prominent Phoenix land use and zoning firm Withey Morris, were named two of Arizona’s 2020 Top 100 lawyers by AZ Business magazine. Withey Morris is the only firm with two land use attorneys with this prestigious honor. Attorneys were selected from a pool of more than 2,000 of the state’s most successful attorneys and vetted based on professional success, ratings and impact on their law firms, communities and the legal profession. Read more

Cruising Central — Then & Now

If you grew up in Phoenix, you’re likely familiar with the cultural activity of cruising Central Avenue. For decades before the advent of social media, teen entertainment in the Valley often turned to motoring along Central. It was a way to meet other teenagers and find out where the parties were. It was a place to see and be seen and show off your wheels, even if it required spending the night driving up and down the same road. The iconic Park Central Mall, Phoenix’s first shopping mall, was a focal point on the strip given its large parking lot, which offered ample opportunity for hanging out. Read more….

Luxury apartments in midtown Phoenix get zoning clearance

One of the largest national multifamily developers is in escrow to buy a run-down hotel on Camelback Road and Fifth Avenue in midtown Phoenix, with plans to raze the vacant structure to build luxury apartments.

Alliance Residential Co. received zoning approval to raze Hotel 502 at 502 W. Camelback Road, to build a 280-unit luxury apartment community.

The Phoenix-based developer hired Withey Morris PLC to handle its zoning case. Read more….

Living a Hybrid Life
More Arizona homebuilders are flocking to develop single-family residences
used as rentals,known as hybrids. Find out why this market niche is growing
so quickly. Phoenix is ground zero for a rapidly growing hybrid rental housing
product that’s catching the attention of national homebuilders.
Withey Morris PLC Welcomes Planner Stephanie Watney

Phoenix, AZ – Withey Morris, a prominent Arizona land use law firm for more than 20 years, brought on planner Stephanie Watney from the City of Chandler.

Stephanie specializes in land use and site development. She provides entitlement and development services to the firm’s clients ranging from initial due diligence and site evaluation to full entitlement processing including rezonings, stipulation modifications, use permits and variances.

“We’re excited to welcome Stephanie and are very impressed with her extensive knowledge and talent,” said Adam Baugh, partner. “Her creativity and the breadth of land use and site development experience she brings from both the public and private sectors makes her a valuable member of our team.” Read more….

Revamped former Phoenix office space signs on 9 women-owned retail businesses

Chantell Nighswonger has operated her boutique, Vida Moulin, at 16th Street and Bethany Home Road for about four years, but as rents in the area began to rise, she and her husband, Kevin Cieszkowski, decided to move the boutique into a building they could own.

“I started reaching out to friends, and thought, ‘Why not make it something a little bigger?’” Nighswonger said.

They bought an old office complex on Missouri Avenue near 12th Street for $1.25 million and got rezoning approval from the city of Phoenix in September to turn the complex into a retail and restaurant complex, called the Frederick. The building included courtyard space for outdoor uses and ample parking, which Nighswonger said was an important feature. Read more...

City leaders OK innovative rental-house development

Leaders in one West Valley community seeded ground for an innovative residential development, which some hope — and others fear — will bring much-needed affordable housing.

But the project’s potential impact proved a point of contention, with some residents claiming the project will attract poor people and crime and drive down their property properties.

Developers of the complex, known as Vita at Greer Ranch, seek to build 149 standalone and duplex rental units on 10 acres at the northeast corner of Cactus and Reems roads in Surprise. Read more

Withey Morris PLC Welcomes Planner Hannah Bleam

Phoenix, Arizona – ​Withey Morris​, a prominent Arizona land use law firm for more than 20 years, brought on planner ​Hannah Bleam​, AICP from the City of Phoenix.

Hannah is a planner specializing in land use, site development, community outreach, and entitlements. Her unique experience in both the public and nonprofit sectors have provided her with a skill set equipped to handle all aspects of the land use and development process.

“Hannah possesses specialized knowledge that continues to differentiate Withey Morris and we’re excited not only about the talent and creativity she brings from her time as a village planner, but also her multifaceted experience in land use,” said ​Adam Baugh​, partner. Read more

Demolition underway at Papago Plaza, redevelopment on Scottsdale site includes hotel, residential components

Pivot Development ceremonially broke ground Thursday morning at Papago Plaza in south Scottsdale for a site that eventually will be developed into a mixed-use project worth more than $100 million. Read more

Jason Morris named one of Arizona’s business leaders and innovators

Jason Morris named one of Arizona’s business leaders and innovators in AZBusiness Magazine. Read the issue.

Nation’s largest homebuilder in escrow to buy key chunk of East Valley land

Miami-based Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) is in escrow to buy one of the last remaining large parcels of land in Gilbert.

The deal to acquire 90 acres is expected to close within the next couple of weeks, said Ed Grant, executive vice president of Scottsdale Investment Management, who is selling the land to the nation’s largest homebuilder. Read more

Planned East Valley commercial project embraces city’s railroad history

A planned commercial development in Gilbert is designed with nearby railroad tracks in mind and was named to pay homage to the man who built the tracks through town.

“This is a really small, weird-shaped property, and these properties get looked over time and time again,” said Adam Baugh, an attorney with Withey Morris who is representing Moulin Group, the parcel’s developer. “My client wanted to something creative and flip the script on what the retail place looks like.” Read more...