Lowered building heights, deeper setbacks in revised plan along Tangerine Road - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Lowered building heights, deeper setbacks in revised plan along Tangerine Road

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Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:13 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Deeper building setbacks from Tangerine Road and lowered heights on apartment structures are part of a modified proposal from developer HSL Properties for a parcel of land northwest of Tangerine and Thornydale in Marana.

The Tangerine/Thornydale Specific Plan would allow HSL Properties to build 240 luxury apartments and a 100-room hotel on 33 acres of land north of Tangerine and west of the Villagio development that sits at Tangerine and Thornydale.

After meeting with neighbors in January and hearing "the sheer volume of concerns expressed, misinformation disseminated and questions asked," The Planning Center withdrew the project on behalf of HSL Properties, it said in a project fact sheet. The developer decided to "step back and start talking to neighbors," The Planning Center's Robin Large told a gathering of nearby residents last week at the Marana Municipal Complex.

Two- and three-story apartment buildings were deemed "a little bit excessive," Large said. In the new proposal, all apartment buildings would be two stories with a maximum height of 26 feet. The 240-unit proposal remains, with smaller square footage in each unit.

Setbacks from Tangerine are being increased from 40 feet to not less than 107 feet. The hotel would be set back 475 feet, from 40 feet in the first proposal. "We tried to tuck it back as far as we could," The Planning Center's Linda Morales said.

High quality construction materials would be used, and landscape design amenities "will be sensitive to the natural desert environment," the companies write.

Throughout, Marana has required the parcel remain 60 percent open space. "We've been restricted to 40 percent disturbance" in order to avoid federal permit requirements for wash modifications, Large said. A 270-foot wide habitat corridor, running east-west along the property's north boundary, would separate it from the Tortolita Vistas residential development. Other north-south habitat corridors along washes would be protected.

"These are the things we're going to set in place that will protect you," HSL's Mike Censky said.

The company is studying whether the apartments should be condominiums instead.

"We're thinking of building this as a condo project," Censky said. "Everyone, we feel, is going to want to come to Marana."

The hotel would remain a three-story structure, with a maximum height of 45 feet. "Three stories is critical" to the hotel's success, Morales said. "We're trying to balance the amount of disturbance and get a critical number of rooms."

"Right now, neither one of these projects is viable," Censky said. "Now is a time for us to entitle land," ensure utilities and appropriate zoning are available, "then we put it on the shelf. We don't have a crystal ball. It won't even be looked at, the next three years."

The hotel is "envisioned as an overflow" for the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, "and right now it's not viable," Censky said. "Five, six, seven, 10 years down the road, an overflow for the Ritz is needed. … We envision the Ritz being successful, we envision this area growing."

Neighbors were concerned by the "quality of the hotel," Large said. "This property would never have a Motel 6, a Super 8, or any of those types of motels." To ensure as much, the new proposal calls for an interior corridor hotel. "That alone will require a higher room rate."

"We don't want a hotel where prostitutes and their Johns would go to," one resident said.

Interior access "would rule out any freeway-type, limited service hotel," Morales said. "It would absolutely be something toward a higher end, directed toward the business traveler."

"I'm still opposed to the hotel," said Sarah Kennedy, a Sky Ranch resident. "It's not appropriate for the residential area. I appreciate your taking the time to tell us what your intention is.

"They've worked hard to redesign it," Kennedy said later. "I think they've listened to us. We really don't want to see it become Oracle (Road)."

The company believes its proposed uses are appropriate. Tangerine Road is going to be widened to a four-lane, divided urban arterial roadway, along which "more intense uses are appropriate," Large said.

"We can't just say we're wiping the slate clean and start with a whole new set of uses," Morales said. HSL offers "assurances what we're doing is a quality project that will fit in. We don't want to come in and do something completely out of character. We really want to be good neighbors."

HSL Properties owns 10,000 units on 30 properties in Tucson and Southern Arizona, Censky said. It is about to begin construction on similar apartments at River and La Cholla. "You can watch it go up, you can see what it's going to look like," Censky said.

A revised proposal for the Tangerine / Thornydale specific plan would be submitted to the town in the next 60 days.

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