Council OKs Senior Living Center Near Old Town

Article originally posted on HERE on September 23, 2022
Council OKs
The Osborne senior living facility will have separate wings for assisted and independent living. (City of Scottsdale)

A 247-unit senior living facility with 9,900 square feet of commercial space on 3.59 acres near the intersection of Scottsdale and Osborne roads will become a reality.

The Scottsdale City Council on Sept. 13 voted 7-0 to approve the project, known as The Osborne, which will reach 74 feet tall and will require 8 feet of bonus height,

The building height steps away from the west to east, accommodating the required building step-back requirements adjacent to the downtown boundary.

The building is broken into two masses with five stories on the west side of the property for assisted living, and six stories on the east for independent living. The two halves will be connected at the ground floor, with an open deck on the second floor.

The building will offer ground level and below ground-level parking accessible by a driveway on Osborne Road and a second on 71 Street. The facility will offer 338 parking spaces, while 279 is required by the city. The traffic is expected to be 45% less than what is expected by the zoning.

The project will also have a 12,000-square-foot paseo and the sidewalks around the building will have over hangs to provide shade.

The city planning commission and development review board both voted unanimously to approve the project.

Councilwoman Linda Milhaven moved to accept the project and Councilwoman Tammy Caputi seconded the motion.

Mayor David Ortega posed an amendment to have the project set back 32 feet from the curb, but no one seconded the motion.

The project’s neighbors are set back 32 feet and 39 feet and Ortega felt the project’s proposed setback of 20 feet would be jarring to pedestrians.

“There is a substantial loss of opportunity here by crowding a very important corner,” Ortega said. “This corner, if you look at it, is also where we suspend the banners that say, ‘Welcome to Old Town’ or ‘Rodeo Happening’ and so forth.

“So if you’re imagining a tall building or a corner of the building going vertical at that point, we have an interruption and a narrowing for no reason.

John Berry, the attorney for the project, pointed out that city ordinance has only required a 20-foot setback since 1985.

“With the 20 feet, we’re playing by the rules,” Berry said. “This wasn’t an attempt to do something different or unusual or to ask for an amended development standard.”

Berry also pointed out that the restaurants that are considering moving into the building’s ground floor prefer a 20 ft. setback. The building’s neighbors have greater setbacks because they are residential and the idea was to move them back from road noise.

He also pointed out the building’s step-backs on the top the floors are greater than what the city requires in order to allow for a view down the street.

Councilwoman Linda Milhaven took exception to Ortega’s request.

“These projects go through an awful long process,” Milhaven said. “We get P&Z email that’s open to the public that tells us when a case is filed. Applicants call us and show us their project, sometimes even before they file the application. In fact, the mayor said he met with this team six months ago.

“We had DRB, which I happened to chair, in June that approved the project. Planning (commission) was in August. This goes through a really, really long process so it’s kind of disappointing after we’ve had every opportunity to give feedback to a project that at the 11th hour from the dais we try to redesign projects. I wish you had brought this up sooner, mayor.”

Caputi echoed that sentiment.

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield said she agreed with the mayor but she was willing to overlook the setback issue because senior living is needed so badly in south Scottsdale.

“It’s becoming more and more necessary as the years go by and our population ages,” Littlefield said. “I want to allow our citizens to stay as independent as possible, to live near their family and their friends and maintain their quality of life.”

Based on a Councilwoman Solange Whitehead’s questioning, Berry noted the project will use a number of techniques like low-flow toilets and showers instead of baths to reduce water use by 35%.