By Kathryn M. Miller
At a June 7 presentation to the Camelback East Village Planning Committee, the developers of Zola North Central made their case to rezone 2.55 acres located at the northeast corner of 7th Street and Colter Street. The request would rezone the lot from the existing C-2 zoning (Intermediate Commercial) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) to allow for a new, five-story multifamily residential development.
The proposal, as presented, met with opposition from area neighborhood associations.
In its narrative, the developer, ZOM Living (www.zomliving.com), states, “This project provides an opportunity to redevelop this underutilized site into a neighborhood enhancing, luxury residential community. Development of the project will help to further diversify the availability of housing types and density ranges in the immediate surrounding area, as well as attract residents with disposable incomes to spend at the local retail and restaurant businesses within the 7th Street corridor.”
According to Nick Wood, Esq., who presented in June on behalf of the development, the 194-unit Zola would consist of 24 efficiency units, 122 one-bedroom units and 48 two-bedroom units.
From the developer narrative, “The project’s architectural style is focused on a modern, contemporary design vernacular, complementing the surrounding built environment while also following a development trend that has reinvented this area with higher density housing with an emphasis on quality design and visual interest within the pedestrian realm.”
During the public comment period, Mike Freret, vice president of the Windsor Square Historic District laid out his and other neighborhood association’s opposition.
“Windsor Square is adamantly opposed to changing the zoning from the current C-2 designation to the proposed PUD,” Freret stated. “There’s simply no compelling reason to permit the level of density proposed on a site that’s already approved for residential at a density level that is consistent with the overall ethos of North Central. To approve such a project would be to ignore what is already an unsafe traffic level on 7th Street, which the city traffic staff has already acknowledged is operating substantially over capacity.”
Freret continued that Windsor Square is not anti-development, “We’ve worked closely over the years with developers in the area to be able to build creative, attractive and lucrative projects, but that exist in balance with the surrounding neighborhoods.”
He added, “We are sensitive to the housing shortage that the city is under pressure to address. But let’s not address that challenge by permitting wildly inappropriate developments when a more measured approach, such as asking the developer to create a residential project that works within the current zoning classification, can create a balance between municipal needs and the importance of retaining the character of historic neighborhoods.”
Mary Crozier, president of the North Central Phoenix Homeowner’s Association, citing a delay in communication from the developer added, “We’re not opposed to the developing of this site. But the project, as presented, does not meet the minimum requirement as a superior product for our neighborhood. We appreciate and hope to use the time between now and September to work with the applicant collaboratively on this proposed PUD.”
The June presentation to the committee was for information only. The developer will go the Village planning committee again in September of this year.
Residents can follow the progress of this proposed development on the City of Phoenix Planning and Zoning website at www.phoenix.gov/pdd/planning-zoning. Click on the “Planned Unit Development (PUUD) Cases” link.