General Plan series #5
by Don Hadder
For the past 25 years there essentially has not been any significant amount of vacant land available for development in Scottsdale south of the CAP aqueduct. This was true of the area in Scottsdale south of Shea by 1985. As a result, any land use changes in these areas will be the result of some sort of redevelopment activity.
There is relatively little privately held vacant land north of the Central Arizona Project aqueduct in Scottsdale. Through the development of master planned projects and a substantial amount of in-fill development, most of the available private lands in this area have been developed or are committed for development.
Therefore, the bulk of the remaining vacant land in Scottsdale is owned by the Arizona State Land Trust. These lands were assigned to the State over 100 years ago as part of the process of statehood in order to support education and certain community services. As such, they have special protections under State statutes, particularly in Sections 37-331 through 37-334 of the State laws. Any planning or zoning actions by local jurisdictions must be consistent with these provisions.
Of these lands, there are two main locations of probable future development: about 3,600 acres located along the east side of Pima Road from roughly Dixileta Road north to Stagecoach Pass Road and also about 1,000 acres straddling the Loop 101 Freeway from Scottsdale Road to Bell Road.
The first area has zoning that in ranges from two-acre lots (R1-70), through 1, 1/3 and ¼ acre lot single family districts to resort use (R-4R). Given the infrastructure improvements necessary to serve this area, it is likely that this will be auctioned as one large master-planned development. This area, in effect, would probably become the last master-planned development to be developed in Scottsdale and would be a highly desirable parcel for that reason.
The other area, along the freeway, has a long history of planning and entitlements. Most of the area has had Planned Community District (PCD) zoning for over 30 years. It has also been the subject of the Regional Use Overlay and the Greater Airpark Character Area Plan policy updates. Over the past few years, development is beginning to occur across this area, and one the freeway upgrades are completed, there will likely be increased interest for development in this area. These lands are the last remaining lands for developing significant employment uses in the city on vacant land. These lands are in direct competition with freeway frontage sites in the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the City of Phoenix.
For the most part, the die is cast for these large areas of vacant land. Refinements and adjustments on these sites may occur in the future, but the main direction for their development has been established.
As time passes, more and more of the potential for land uses to respond to regional, demographic and economic changes will be through the redevelopment and revitalization of lands that are already developed. It is much more difficult to project such trends and changes and it will be necessary to provide for flexible and responsive ways to respond to the challenges that will come in the future.
Don Hadder is a retired city planner, long-time resident of Scottsdale and a local historical resource.
See Don’s entire series HERE.