SoHo Scottsdale would bring urban vibe to Bell Road

A new urban project proposed for the Bell Road corridor in Scottsdale would bring loft-style townhouses and condominiums above office space and retail near WestWorld, plans show.

SoHo Scottsdale, the project, stands for “small office, home office.”

Scottsdale-based Catclar Investments wants to develop a vacant lot at 92nd Street and Bahia Drive into the 64 townhouses with residential atop offices. Another four-story condominium building with 14 units would have first-floor services and retail including a restaurant, plans show.

In exchange for increased height and density, the developer has pledged to contribute nearly $870,000 toward improvements at WestWorld of Scottsdale, which is just south of the proposed project.

The project is “live, work, play,” so residents can work from home and walk to major businesses and venues along the Bell Road corridor including WestWorld, the Ice Den and AZ on the Rocks, an indoor rock-climbing gym.

Irene Catsibris Clary, Catclar president, said project officials researched “work-live” projects in other cities and “brought some design elements back that will really make this project unique from an architectural standpoint.”

“I think the city needs more urban projects,” Clary said. “People seem to like that, the live-work component, that is going to be the way of the future, with more and more people actually working and living from the same complex.”

Clary, whose Catclar offices are across the street, has looked out on the vacant lot for years.

“We’ve been watching this parcel and thinking what could we do that would be really unique,” she said.

Several elements of the proposed project include:

Rooftop studios, which will offer views of the surrounding desert and McDowell Mountains, Clary said.

Atrium courtyard areas throughout the site, with green space and artwork.

Business and employment services on the ground floor of the condominium project, including a courier service, coffee shop and restaurant.

A centralized executive office with concierge services. Unit owners would be members, though outside members may be invited to join for free, according to a city report.

Conference tables and meeting areas.

It is the fourth collaboration between Catclar and Bing Hu, an award-winning architect with HS International.

Hu, who has designed high-end homes and many other projects in the Valley, called SoHo Scottsdale “different than any other development in Scottsdale.”

“This type of product is all over Asia,” said Hu, who came to the Valley 26 years ago from China. “The great thing about this is the people are able to work where they live, and reduce traffic because you don’t have to drive to work.”

Hu said he believes SoHo “will be the coolest building in the city of Scottsdale.”

“We’re pioneering something that has never been done here,” he said.

A groundbreaking could occur this spring or summer, with the first phase finished in about a year, Clary said.

The development has been called the Bahia Work Live Play project in submittals to the city.

Catclar is seeking General Plan amendments, a rezoning and increased building height and density from the city.

The maximum building height allowed currently is 42 feet, while the maximum building height proposed for the project is 65 feet, according to a council report.

The Scottsdale City Council is scheduled to vote on the requests at its Dec. 2 meeting.

The Scottsdale Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the requests this month.

Planning commissioners added a stipulation that the developer should disclose information about the project’s proximity to WestWorld, its location in an industrial park, and the associated risks, such as noise and traffic, of living in the area.

“It’s just important to make sure the homeowners understand the implications,” Commissioner Larry Kush said at the meeting. He added, “I think it’s a nice project. I think the use is acceptable. But I just do see problems when you do mixed zonings.”

Howard Myers, a past chairman of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, voiced concerns about the project’s proximity to WestWorld and the Scottsdale Airport.

“There are good locations for a project like that, but this isn’t one of them,” Myers said.

Jim Hartsock, a taxidermist whose business is directly west of the proposed project, said he and other business owners are not happy with the request for a zoning change.

“The residential does not mix with light industrial,” he said.

Hartsock, president of the McDowell Mountain Business Center, said it is not a truly “family friendly” area and there are many industrial and warehouse businesses nearby. “It’s not like a downtown area where new residents can walk and get something to eat,” he said. Hartsock also expressed concerns about the height increase, which would be for one building, according to plans.

“The reason we all moved to Scottsdale is it’s a quaint low city,” Hartsock said. “You can see the mountains from anywhere you look.”

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/11/25/soho-scottsdale-project-bell-road-corridor/70054736/