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Paradise Valley Town Council receives refreshed proposal for revitalization of SmokeTree property

In broad strokes, the 82-guest unit resort redevelopment is set to include an ‘arrival’ building and ‘casita’ building that varies in height from 12 to 36 feet tall, which includes both one- and-three-story structures. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Paradise Valley Town Council could render SmokeTree vote this January
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

The ‘French Cowboy’ has been officially put out to pasture.

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Dec. 14, were presented a refreshed proposal for the revitalization of the SmokeTree Resort & Bungalows, a resort property site atop about 5 acres of commercial land — a rare opportunity within municipal bounds.

Paradise Valley Town Council appears to be in tune with the new plans with the most notable change revolving around the standalone restaurant and speakeasy concept — The French Cowboy — no longer plotted along Lincoln Drive.

“When you had last discussed this several things were discussed,” said Paul Michaud, Town of Paradise Valley senior planner, of the Oct. 12 work session discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

“Since then, the applicant has revised their site plan and since that last discussion, the big changes would be the street corner no longer contains the standalone restaurant and the ‘speakeasy concept.”

Withey Morris Baugh, PLC on behalf of ST HOLDCO, is formally pursuing the major Special Use Permit amendment as proposed plans include the development of an 82-guest unit resort that borders two public roads —- Lincoln Drive, a major arterial, and Quail Run Road, a local road.

In broad strokes, the 82-guest unit resort redevelopment is set to include an ‘arrival’ building and ‘casita’ building that varies in height from 12 to 36 feet tall, which includes both one- and-three-story structures.

Of Note: Use of the property as a resort began prior to its annexation into the Town of Paradise Valley in 1961.

In prior discussions at both the Planning Commission and Town Council levels concerns were raised about the potential for traffic forming along Lincoln Drive, the amount of parking available for patrons and overall density and height.

“The queuing at the two driveways previously met standards. The removal of the stand-alone restaurant/speakeasy provides added queuing and circulation,” Mr. Michaud said in his Dec. 14 staff report. “The parking and traffic reports use accepted professional standards of both the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials and the Highway Capacity Manual modeling. The updated parking and traffic reports will be reviewed by town professional staff and included with the next council meeting material.”

A view of the now-defunct SmokeTree Resort found along Lincoln Drive in the Town of Paradise Valley. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress)
Paradise Valley Town Council could render SmokeTree vote this January

Mr. Michaud pointed out during the Dec. 14 work session discussion the amount of striped parking spaces has increased from 145 to 159.

“The revised plans include redesigning the underground garage to a more rectangular shape that improves circulation,” Mr. Michaud said in his report.

“The garage level was reduced from 48,603 square feet to 29,745 square feet. The removal of the irregular shape, ‘speakeasy,’ and some back-of-house functions results in this reduction. The number of parking spaces on the basement level went from 74 to 67 spaces.”

Mr. Michaud points out the change in the standalone restaurant concept proposed reduces some need for parking.

“If necessary, from a site layout perspective, there appears to be an opportunity for expansion of the underground garage west underneath the arrival area,” he said. “Also, the revised plan shows 20 tandem parking spaces which will need to be evaluated against the peak parking demand if valet mode is not always in use.”

The topic of floor-area ratio emerged during the most recent public discussion at Town Hall, but Mr. Michaud reminds there is no Town Code that speaks to formal FAR requirements.

“However, the Statement of Direction approved by the Town Council included consideration of this metric while taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the site located on five acres, its proximity to the city of Scottsdale, and that non-residential zoning adjoins three sides of the site with the fourth side adjoining Quail Run Road adjacent to residential R-43 zoning,” he said.

“The proposed floor area is 106,030 square feet (45.4% gross and 51.4% net) and excludes the basement level. This is less than the prior plan, but remains larger than other existing resorts.”

Mr. Michaud reports the SmokeTree site is the second smallest within town limits.

“When you are looking at the density they are over,” Mr. Michaud said at the work session. “When you look at the lot coverage (the proposal) is still over our but obviously with a reduced level.”

In his report, Mr. Michaud points out many of the town’s zoning guidelines are met by the developer of the project.

“When not met, there are factors to support the request as detailed in the Guideline Comparison (Attachment L) that covers the SUP Guidelines and Statement of Direction,” he said in his report.

Read the Guideline Comparison document HERE.

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected this January to hold both a study session and public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of the SmokeTree resort site.

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