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Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Mountain Shadows resort plan consolidates buildings

Redevelopment plans for the shuttered Mountain Shadows resort in Paradise Valley have been revised in hopes of accommodating residents and town officials.

But not everybody is pleased with it, including an ally of financially troubled resort.

The new plan eliminates all three-story elements but increases density by 20 percent, said Rick Carpinelli, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Crown Realty and Development, the resort's owner.

Previously, Crown Realty had proposed a mass of six, three-story buildings intended for resort/residential.

The new plan consolidates those buildings into two buildings and decreases their heights to two stories.

"Getting feedback from residents and the planning commission, we hope the new plan will build consensus in order to move forward with the project," he said.

Crown Realty has been working through the town's special-use-permit process to redevelop the resort property at 56th Street and Lincoln Drive.

On June 28, the town council adopted a "statement of direction," which is intended to guide the commission in its review. Since then, the commission has been receiving input from Crown representatives and residents.

Both residents and commissioners have had issues with the initial plan, ranging from density and heights to preservation of the resort golf course.

Mountain Shadows resident Pamela Covella came to Crown's defense saying she appreciated the work they've done with the town and residents by bringing forward a revised plan.

"It's time to get specific. If Crown received more specific direction we would have more forward movement," she said. "We're nowhere near where we need to be, but Crown has never shut the door in our face."

However, many residents and commissioners continue to have issues with the plan.

Planning Commissioner Chair Maria Syms said it's too dense.

"We can do a lot better," she said.

Commissioner Lou Werner said the planning commission's goal is to craft stipulations and make a recommendaation to council.

"There may be a lot of talk about drawings but at the commission level the drawings don't matter," he said. "Despite the plan, let's not forget that it could get thrown out."

In April, the 68-acre Paradise Valley property, at 56th Street and Lincoln Drive, went into default on a $32 million loan. MTS Land LLC and MTS Golf LLC, affiliates of Crown Realty and owners of the Mountain Shadows resort, subsequently filed for bankruptcy last month.

To help stay financially afloat, Crown Realty entered into a preliminary joint-venture partnership agreement with Solage Hotels and Resorts in May.

Crown officials said the group, which has at least eight resort properties in North America along with its sister company, Auberge Resorts, would help brand, finance and manage the Mountain Shadows resort.

However, at Thursday's planning commission meeting, Carpinelli told town officials that Solage isn't happy with the proposed revised plan for redevelopment.

But Carpinelli said the preliminary agreement between Crown and Solage still stands.

"We have a term sheet and an agreement. It's a 50-50 partnership. The relationship is there," he said. "But (approval of the special-use permit) is needed to solidify the agreement. Parameters are needed in order to solidify an agreement."

by Philip Haldiman - Aug. 20, 2012 The Republic | azcentral.com






New Mountain Shadows resort plan consolidates buildings

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