Project Called Off After Community Opposition
In an October 23 letter to the city, Catherine Thuringer, vice present of the development company, told city officials the company is stepping back.
“Although we have been working diligently over the past several months to revise and refine the development plan for the 28th Street and Southern site to address important issues raised by area residents, opposition to our plan has been exacerbated by the recent Conor Commercial stipulation modification case at 32nd Street and Old Southern,” Thuringer said. “While we firmly believe that we can deliver a Class A project, one that would bring a significant number of jobs to the local community and which the neighbors would be proud, we do not believe it to be a prudent business decision to continue our general plan amendment and rezoning efforts for the site in light of the escalated opposition.”
Greg Brownell, community activist said the neighborhood group fought the Conor project at 32nd and Southern “tooth and nail,” but lost in the end.
“It was a six month battle. It was very intense,” Brownell said. “They (Conor) wanted to combine six little buildings into one really big building that would become a truck depot.
The group finally lost at the city council level when the mayor, Greg Stanton, the area’s Councilman Michael Johnson and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela voted against the project, but were out-voted by the rest of the council.
District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio, said he and some of the other council members voted in favor of the project despite the opposition by the community and its councilman. The reason, he said, was that the council rarely, if ever, has denied a site plan change.
“Site plan changes are one step above an administrative change,” he said. “A person has the right to change their site plan.”
DiCiccio acknowledges that the site plan changes the project from six buildings to one unit and that it attracts different users such as trucks and truck traffic.
“That’s the crux of it. It was a site plan change and property owners, as a general rule, are allowed to modify their site plan.”
Still, the community learned the process of giving stiff opposition to proposed projects in their area.
The group hired a law firm to help fight battles, and that opposition apparently has an affect on the proposed Trammell project.
“I think they worried we would keep pestering them with lawsuits,” Brownell said.
He said he believes the projects would have both turned out to be truck depots.
TrammellCrow had agreed to buy the land from Univision, the Spanish-language television station across the street. But the project depended on the contingency that it would be able to rezone the area from residential to industrial.
Tina Leadbetter, one of the members of the South Phoenix Community Alliance who fought the project at 32nd and Southern said the battle is not over on the 28th and Southern project.
She said TrammellCrow, withdrew from the project because of the bad press Conor had been getting at the time.
“Two or three days later it (Trammell) met with Univision to determine ways to move forward on the project,” Leadbetter said. “I know they did because they told me they did.”
She said the city council “fell flat,” on the decision to allow the Conor project to change its site plan.
She said because of the Conor project and TrammellCrow projects, the community is poised to take action.
“We are reorganizing into a formal entity,” she said. “We have had our first meeting. We are turning into a full-on organization that will play a role in all future development cases.”
She said she and her neighbors are not against development in the area, but it should be for which it was zoned, residential with supporting businesses.
“We don’t want a 40-bay trucking facility,” she said.
If the Trammell project is approved as originally filed, it would have consisted of about 300,000 square feet of warehouse space divided between two 40-foot high buildings on 19 acres. Five acres on the property’s west side would remain undeveloped.
Another person who opposed to both projects is Dan Peitzmeyer, who said the first two phases of the Canal Crossings project at 32nd and Southern are beautiful.
“It’s a very attractive office and light industrial project,” he said.
But the site change for the project has pushed residents to take action.
“Even though the Conor Commercial has been given the green light from the city council, they can expect litigation,” he said. “They should be advised there is discussion of a lawsuit.”