Multi-family zoning near City Hall gets P&Z nod

This 21+ acre site north of City Hall will soon be home to multi-family housing as the city moves to create an "urban village" around the city center. [Brian Petersheim, Jr.]

More than 21 acres of city-owned land immediately north of City Hall will be the site of multi-family housing as part of a plan to create an urban village in the city center.

The Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved changing from public/institutional land use to high-density residential, and a change in zoning from transitional to high-density residential. The property is at the southeast corner of North White and Parker Road and Lococo Street, across from the Desert Passage community.

According to city planner Derek Scheerer, the approval will allow the City to move forward with the village concept approved by voters as part of the city plan and address a need for more multi-family housing.

“This rezoning will help us meet the housing needs assessment and plan for creating a diversity of housing stock for the workforce housing that is needed for the community,” he said.

Scheerer said the project will diversify housing options in a new area of the city.

“This proposed rezoning to high-density residential is consistent with the proposed general plan by offering more opportunity for multi-family and higher density housing elsewhere in the city other than where it has occurred previously along the Porter Road corridor,” he said.

The zoning change was necessary to create a higher-density, urbanized development area around City Hall, he added.

The commissioners, who are appointed by councilmembers, were on board.

Vice Chair Michael Sharpe saw nothing but positives with the city’s plans.

“When we did the housing needs assessment, there was actually a separate report that was commissioned for city center … and it’s finally coming to fruition. I’m really excited and happy to see that it’s happening,” he said. “I know at the time it was a bit of a stretch for the city to begin the process to develop near city center with the first apartments in the city, but now that that’s no longer the case, it will be really nice to see city center really come together.”

Commissioner Dan Frank questioned whether the city would be acting as the developer of the project, since it is on city land, but Scheerer dispelled that notion.

“The City is rezoning the property to sell to a developer or developers in the future,” Scheerer said. “We’re laying the groundwork and planting the seed so they will develop it. We’re proposing to rezone it for entities to come in and take advantage of opportunities the city is creating.”

The developer will be responsible for the installation of sidewalks, gutters, curbs, landscaping and streetlights.

According to an analysis of the city project by city staff, the project is right in line with the various uses proposed in the plan for the city center.

“The Village Center concept seeks to provide opportunities for higher intensity urban development characterized by local commercial, office, entertainment, recreation, public, and residential uses located within proximity of one another,” the report said.