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Unlocking The Loop

This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of AZRE magazine.


The Loop 303 may soon be renamed Merit Partners Parkway if the developer keeps doing what it has been doing along the West Valley freeway. Merit Partners is one of the developers developing the PV 303, a 1600 acre business park that spans both sides of the 303 from Thomas Road north to Camelback Road in Goodyear. That development, at full buildout, could include more than 20 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space. Read more

Why Valley’s tribal land is a big draw for commercial development

This article originally appeared in the Phoenix Business Journal.

As opportunities for large-scale developments within the city of Scottsdale have become harder to come by, developers and builders have turned their focus east, to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which has quickly become a destination for a slew of commercial projects. 

In the past five years, nearly 1.7 million square feet of commercial space has come online on the reservation, according Newmark Knight Frank research. That slice of the Valley is home to Salt River Fields, the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as the Great Wolf Lodge, Medieval Times restaurant and Arizona’s only White Castle burger restaurant.

Development in the corridor has nearly doubled in the past five years, and the area now encompasses about 3.5 million square feet of developed space. The reservation is directly east of Scottsdale, and is bounded by Pima Road on its western edge. Read more

Scottsdale City Council approves Stockdale Capital’s boutique apartment project

This article originally appeared in the Phoenix Business Journal.

Stockdale Capital Partners LLC, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm with a rapidly growing presence in metro Phoenix, has received zoning approval for a boutique apartment complex in downtown Scottsdale.

Plans call for building a $25 million, 3-story structure that would include 54 units atop a podium which covers at-grade parking on a 1.2-acre parcel on Indian School Road and Fifth Avenue, said Jason Morris, partner with Withey Morris who handled the zoning case that garnered 4-3 approval on Aug. 24. The ground floor would include 900 square feet for a small retail operator, such as a coffee or juice kiosk.

To be called Canalside, the property sits on an odd-shaped site that backs up against the canal and a Salt River Project substation, Morris said. Read more

Canalside: New residential building slips into Fifth Avenue vacant lot

A new 54-unit multifamily residential proposal received a split 4-3 vote by the City Council to provide a small pocket of housing in Old Town Scottsdale.

The tight Council vote was rendered on Aug. 24, after the project receiving unanimous recommendations from the Development Review Board and Planning Commission this summer.

Called Canalside, owners Stockdale Capital Partners, represented by Jason Morris of Withey Morris PLC, sought a zoning district map amendment for a mixed-use development consisting of 54 units of multifamily residential, and approximately 900-square-feet of non-residential open space. Read more

Lessons Learned from a Land Use Lifesaver

By Adam Baugh 

At the beginning of COVID, when the world suddenly halted in March, my children and I decided to build a bike shed. 

It was a great time bonding with my daughters, but the end product looked nothing like the fancy shed we intended. Corners weren’t square, hinges didn’t close evenly, and several wood boards were warped. I enjoyed the family time, but at the end of the day, I really wished I had hired a professional to construct it, or at least help us build it with quality plans.  

This experience reminds me of the many times I’ve been asked to rescue a zoning case from a frustrated owner/developer after they’ve tried using a “rent-a-planner” to do the work and quality of a seasoned land use attorney. While I certainly understand budget and cost efficiencies when entitling a project, like my shed experience, in most cases the client will end up spending more on the task and often obtaining inferior results. Read more... 

Apartment project proposed for downtown site

A new apartment project is planned for a vacant plot of land in downtown Scottsdale.

The project, named Canalside for its proximity to the Arizona Canal, is scheduled to go before to the City Council for approval on August 24.

According to plans filed with the city, Canalside will include 54 apartment units in a 50-foot building and around 900 square feet of retail space on the 1.17-acre site, which is wedged between Indian School and the Canal just east of 68th Street. Read more

Expansion at Picacho Peak RV Resort aims to bring in more winter visitors, long-term residents

PICACHO — Nestled in the shadow of Picacho Peak, an area recreational vehicle and manufactured home park is poised to nearly double in size with the addition of new upscale residences, larger sites and more amenities. Read more….

Every Withey Morris Land Use and Zoning Attorney Honored by Best Lawyers in America®2021

From “Ones To Watch” to “Lawyer of The Year,” Arizona’s Top Land Use Law and Real Estate Law Firm Bestowed With Top Honors

PHOENIX, AZ – Best Lawyers in America® 2021 recognized every land use and zoning attorney from Withey Morris PLC, a prominent Arizona land use and real estate law firm for more than 20 years. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected lawyer ranking service in the world. William Allison, Adam Baugh, Jason Morris, Benjamin Tate and Michael Withey were among the best lawyers in land use and zoning, with Michael Withey receiving the honorable “Lawyer of the Year” recognition for this practice.

The awards recognize attorneys with the highest level of confidential peer feedback in specific practice areas and geographic region. Read more

Merit Partners buys land for $1.5 billion Glendale industrial park

A Phoenix-based developer instrumental in the Red Bull and White Claw facilities being built in the West Valley has closed on a 614-acre parcel of land in Glendale that will be the site of a $1.5 billion logistics park development. 

The parcel at the southwest corner of Bethany Home Road and Loop 303 is part of the 864-acre Allen Ranches property and sold for $70.5 million. The industrial portion of the development will be called Camelback 303. Read more

Construction work underway at Papago Plaza redevelopment in Scottsdale

This article originally appeared in the Phoenix Business Journal.

Construction work has begun at Papago Plaza, a redevelopment project near McDowell and Scottsdale roads in south Scottsdale.

Final grading is being done onsite for installation of electrical and water lines. Pivot Development, which is developing the hotel, restaurant and retail space at Papago Plaza, began razing the former shopping center in late 2019. Read more… 

Maricopa County approves redevelopment of former Falcon Golf Club for FedEx site

This article originally appeared in the Phoenix Business Journal

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to approve a controversial development on the former Falcon Golf Club.

The project will be a cross-dock truck facility for FedEx, according to public documents. Plans submitted to the county call for two phases of development. The development’s first phase is planned to be on the property’s north portion, comprising 79 acres of land at Camelback Road and 152nd Avenue.

Plans include a 245,730-square-foot footprint, including the cross-dock facility and support buildings, as well as 683 employee parking spaces and about 1,500 parking spaces for trucks, vans and trailers. Read more...

Multifamily Develop. Proposed Near Metrocenter Mall

MK Company Inc., recently submitted plans to the City of Phoenix for a new multifamily development, known as Metro Lofts, at the NEC of Dunlap and 29th Avenues. 

The site is located on approximately 7.32 acres at 9201 N. 29th Avenue, and is immediately adjacent to the Arizona Canal, “which is envisioned as a regional amenity and transportation route for bicyclists and pedestrians,” according to the project documents. It is also near a future light rail station, Metrocenter Mall and a water treatment facility. Read more

Goodyear OKs Vita at El Cidro Rezoning

The Goodyear City Council recently approved a rezoning of approximately 27 acres at the NEC of Cotton Lane and Elwood Street at its August 19th meeting, for the development of a new multifamily community.

Applicant, Withey Morris, PLC, on behalf of developer, Vita Communities, requested to amend the El Cidro Planned Area Development on that property from Low-Medium Density Residential to Multi-Family Residential. Goodyear’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the rezone at its August 7th meeting before moving it to City Council. Read more…

Residences at Phoenix Country Club
$85 Million Development Made Possible By Building Trust

This article originally appeared in AZRE magazine.

Jason Morris established himself and the law firm that he co-founded as one of the top land use, real estate and zoning minds in the Valley. Withey Morris PLC may be one of the more highly-respected firms that developers turn to when they need help getting approval for a project, but for Jason Morris, how he goes about his job is similar to what he did when he was putting himself through college, selling shirts and ties at Nordstrom’s. Read more….

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

Residences at Phoenix Country Club
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