Rezoning Closer to Home

Here is another rezoning issue much closer to home. Again, Steve K has done a great job breaking down the subject into understandable pieces. The key element here is the lack of flexibility of HPZ rules concerning maximum height of structures. There has been considerable discussion within our two boards, APNA and APHZAB. Various board members have different views on the matter, but most seem to feel that some form of compromise is needed. Please read through Steve’s piece carefully, then decide how you feel about the issue. Our boards need your input. 

The Baffert Property

The Fry’s development is bypassing the important step of amending an area plan in significant ways. I’ve outlined several above [see the previous blog post]. The 5 Points development being proposed by Kappcon Construction is called the Baffert [named after a longtime Tucson family]. I’ve met multiple times with the development team and surrounding neighbors. All understand that this project will need to thread a regulatory needle in order to move forward. Everyone who has seen the project loves it and we’re correctly managing the steps to getting it approved.

The area is in an Historic Preservation Zone (HPZ). The HPZ has a height restriction based on the nearest contributing historic property. In this case that’s 24 feet. The Baffert needs to be 48 feet. There is no process in the HPZ policies that allow for an increase in height. The solution being proposed is to redraw the HPZ boundary in a way that pulls the site out of the zone, do it in a way that includes a new contributor to the HPZ, but subject the development to historic compatibility review by the relevant historic review boards in perpetuity. Then with all of that in place, we begin a formal rezoning process. These maps show how that boundary amendment is going to look:

Here’s the redraw of the boundary:

This is not amending an area plan through a rezoning.

Similar to the Fry’s, the Baffert is going on a currently vacant site. Here’s the image:

The building in the background is the 24 foot tall contributing historic structure. As a part of this project it is being remodeled in a way that preserves its historic character. The Baffert is going in on the vacant land. Here’s an architects conceptual image of the finished product:

The new project will be a mixed use, residential and commercial addition to the corner. As with Mister Car Wash, it is indeed economic expansion, not just shifting jobs and shuttering a grocery store down the road, which by the way destines the shopping center in which that anchor building is located to a certain demise.

To be fair, the Armory Park Historic Review Board did not approve of this move. Their concern is about precedent. But they also recognize the value of what’s being proposed. To that end, we gave direction on Tuesday to staff to form a working group that’ll include representatives of all the HPZ neighborhoods and talk through how we might amend the HPZ rules to allow for some variances without redrawing boundaries.

It’s ironic that the Mister Car Wash and Baffert were on the same agenda as was the Fry’s, but the Chamber was so evidently fixated on development outside the Saguaro National Monument East buffer that they missed the creative ways we are catalyzing economic development in what may truly be called “infill.”

Bringing together the five historic boards (HZABs) is an excellent idea for this issue and for the general preservation of our historic communities. If our HZABs have a more influential voice within city government, our historic neighborhoods will be more survivable. Economic pressures are making this a dangerous world for community preservation.  

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