‘Through-the-roof’ $1B project approved Article originally posted on HERE on May 22, 2023 For potential residents, this project is literally through the roof – with rooftop shade trees, running tracks, swimming pools and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. But on the checklist of things current Scottsdale residents go through the roof in anger over, this billion-dollar project hits them all. Desert land being developed? Check. More apartments? Check. More traffic? Check. Roundabout? Check. On May 4, the Development Review Board unanimously approved Optima McDowell Mountain Village, which plans 10- story buildings housing 1,330 luxury apartment and condo units on North Scottsdale Road. The desert land to be developed spans from Mayo Boulevard to the Loop 101. Scottsdale City Council narrowly approved the development in November. The mammoth Optima project, projected to cost $1 billion to build, was opposed by council members Kathy Littlefield, Betty Janik and Solange Whitehead. “Residents told us loud and clear to anyone who was listening in the last election that they wanted to slow down the development in Scottsdale,” Littlefield said at the November meeting. “It seems to me all we’ve done now is try and find the ways to manage to grow more and grow higher. Higher, denser, bigger is not what our citizens voted for.” But Mayor David Ortega and council members Tammy Caputi, Tom Durham and Linda Milhaven approved the high-end complex. Littlefield raised concerns about water use. “I am concerned about a couple of things with this,” Littlefield said. “We’ve been going around telling our neighbors and telling our citizens, ‘Cut back on water, cut back on water, don’t water your lawn, don’t do this, don’t do that.’” But an Optima representative sold the Development Review Board that the development will be extremely “green.” “This will be our most sustainable project to date,” Optima’s David Hovey Jr. promised. “Optima McDowell Mountain Village (units) will use approximately one-quarter the amount of water of a single-family home.” Last year, Optima transferred 2,750 acre feet of water to the city “to make the project water neutral.” Hovey Jr. said that would provide anywhere from 11 to 32 years of demand by the new project. Optima says it will have a 210,000 gallon rainwater harvesting storage tank – which the developer claims will be the largest private rainwater harvesting system in the United States. Optima has a similar development at Kierland Commons. “Other site enhancements include a new sidewalk and path system along both street frontages, a roundabout located at Mayo and North 73rd Place and a transit stop along North Scottsdale Road,” according to the plan submitted by Optima. According to the presentation, the 20-acre development in the Greater Airport Area “has evolved as the result of 11 iterations with the mayor, city council, the city’s planning and building departments and neighborhood outreach.” “We had over 300 letters of support and only six letters in opposition,” he stressed. In addition to adding a bus stop, the project will have a bike path “around the entire development.” The project’s six buildings will be built in three phases, according to Hovey Jr.. He said 25% of commercial space was added “at the request of the mayor.” “Traffic will be on average 1% to 1.8% more daily traffic than if the project was not present,” he said. The rooftops of the buildings are particularly stunning, featuring shade trees, running tracks – and swimming pools. Riehl referred to a $15.6 million “height buy up that can be used at the mayor and city council’s discretion.” According to a website marketing the project, “Consisting of approximately 970 apartments and approximately 420 luxury condos for sale is Optima McDowell Mountain Village. “The $1 billion development features a 22-acre location … subterranean parking, an underground trash system, and approximately 36,000 square feet of world-class commercial space.” Plans show dozens of shade trees and large, open green space, including a putting green; Optima says artificial turf will drastically reduce water use. If they were giving out grades, the Design Review Board would give this one an A+. “This is a fantastic project for Scottsdale,” said William Scarbrough, a board member. “I think it’s very stunning and beautiful,” fellow board member Michal Ann Joyner added. “I think North Scottsdale’s going to be very happy to have this project.” Ali Fakih praised the “out of the box thinking” of the project. Even Janik, who voted against the project in November, voted for it in her role with the Development Review Board. “You have set the stage for Scottsdale development,” Janik told Optima.