Proponents: a central park theme fit for the 21st century
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
A seismic shift in all things brick-and-mortar is taking shape around American industry as development titans look to find the right combination of function as traditional uses are relics of how business used to get done.
As the work-from-home revolution continues and while the birth of the digital age is changing the day-to-day lives of all Americans, a new vision of the live, work and play mantra could sprout in Scottsdale.
George Kurtz, a cybersecurity pioneer, has envisioned a place where innovative digital companies can find affordable, quality and enticing space to grow and develop their ideas.
Mr. Kurtz told the Arizona Digital Free Press July 14 living in a post-pandemic world entrepreneurs and business leaders in high tech are looking for alternative destinations aside from tried-and-true silicon destination points.
“It is a perfect model to me: to infuse technology and sustainability,” he said of the forthcoming development coined, “The Parque.”
Mr. Kurtz is a true pioneer of the digital age as co-founder and CEO of CrowdStrike, founder of Foundstone and chief technology officer at McAfee. Mr. Kurtz is a wunderkind of the digital community, coding his first video games with the archaic Commodore 64 operating system.
— George Kurtz, cybersecurity pioneer
“I have been in the tech field for over 30 years, and it seems to me we need to be infusing more technology into organizations like Arizona State University. The overall goal I see in a post-pandemic world is people are looking for new places where they can have a real work-life collaboration.”
Mr. Kurtz contends function is a major component of the envisaged development atop about 32 acres at 16001 N. Scottsdale Road.
“A big part of business here is to create a functional area that makes sense, which is sustainable,” he said. “With the focus of taking Scottsdale to the next level in the tech sector.”
Mr. Kurtz points out his success in technology has come on the software side and while chip manufacturing is a key piece of the technology ecosystem, there ought to be more of a focus on incubating software innovations.
“People are looking for places to go outside of the Bay Area,” he said of the typical high-tech destinations of the world. “They are looking for high-tech jobs, opportunities. And while chip manufacturing is great and creates a great base for software technology, we are looking to attract capital to incubate these technology companies here in Scottsdale.”
The application processes
On file at Scottsdale City Hall is a pre-application document outlining in basic terms what development parameters are pursued to bring “The Parque” to life on 32 acres in the heart of Scottsdale.
“The Parque includes a request for rezoning from General Commercial (C-4) to Planned Airpark Core Development – Airpark Mixed Use – Residential with a Planned Shared Development overlay (PCP-AMU-R – PSD) on 32.3+/- gross acre site located at 16001 N. Scottsdale Road,” the application summary states.
“A General Plan Amendment (GPA) application approved by City Council in October 2011 for the subject 32.3+/- acres amending the Greater Airpark Character Area Plan (GACAP) from Airpark Mixed Use (“AMU”) to Airpark Mixed Use-Residential (AMU-R) to allow for the addition of residential uses to the existing mixed-use designation. The 2011 GPA application did not include a companion rezoning case.”
A part of the application is an opportunity for proponents of the development to offer insight through the pending request to change the zoning attached to CrackerJax, which is at the same address.
“The Parque is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a legacy destination anchored by a large 2+/- acre ‘Central Park’ open space amenity to be enjoyed by Scottsdale residents and visitors,” the narrative reads. “The Parque will create a transformational, sustainable mixed-use campus as a catalyst to attract to innovators, technology entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and venture capitalists to accelerate Scottsdale’s growing technology cluster.”
Mr. Kurtz is owner of the property at 16001 N. Scottsdale Road with an April purchase to the tune of $55.5 million through CrackerJax Land Company LLC. According to reporting at ABC 15 in April, CrackerJax was sold by the Herberger family. CrackerJax is closed permanently.
John Berry, founding partner of Berry Riddell, is representing the case and points out zoning is the vehicle for all projects to come to life and this application is a significant positive step forward for smart development in Scottsdale.
“Zoning is just the vehicle to implement the community’s decision of transformation. And this is one where a confluence of technology and sustainability will take Scottsdale to the next level,” he said.
— John Berry, prominent Scottsdale zoning attorney
“George is not a developer. With his background and experience, for this case, it becomes about a very new method and concept. This is a passion project. George is someone who wants to create; this will be a perfect marriage between leadership and innovation.”
Mr. Berry says this space will offer a blank campus meant to catapult Scottsdale into the big tech conversation.
The open space element
Avalon Knoebel of Nelsen Partners, during a July 14 open house at the Scottsdale Quarter, offers the Central Park theme of the pending development is an enhancement to what the area already offers.
“This is where we feel Scottsdale is going coming out of COVID and where we can go.” she said. “One of the cool pieces of those is an open-space element — the park will become an extension of what is around them. Everyone here at the Quarter loves the Quarter and all the activity it brings. We hope to bring two acres of open space. That is what the project is about: focused on having this sustainable campus that activates an urban city.”
Ms. Knoebel explains the concept is to bring the elements of what a great city of the 21st century is to the heart of Scottsdale.
“When it comes to the great cities that captivate people it forces them to think how they connect with the city,” she said. “How do we interact with the things, the structures around us?”
Ms. Knoebel said heights and density pursued are in tune with the surrounding development pointing out the highest building pursued will be 119 feet.
“The whole project is centered around the ‘Central Park’ concept,” she said pointing out higher buildings at one location allows for better pedestrian spaces at the ground level.
“There is always a give and take about development and this plan allows for free and open space to happen, but also to create better public space. Generally speaking, it will create the opportunity for a better urban environment at the ground level — a focus on the pedestrian not just the building.”
In all, Ms. Knoebel says, the development will include:
- A five-star-branded hotel with residential component
- A for-sale condominium stock
- Office space
- Community spaces
Ms. Knoebel contends the project is meant to activate the area.
“How does the outside element or the walkability of the project work?” she said of tenets of urban design. “How will the architectural and public spaces work together?”
For Mr. Kurtz, a major key for success of the development project will be bringing big tech to the Valley of the Sun — Scottsdale specifically.
“It will be focused on how to bring great tech to Arizona,” he said. “There is no reason Scottsdale shouldn’t be another epicenter of big tech.”