City planners fight Medical Park rezone |

cThe city of Mesa’s planning team issued a rare recommendation to “reject” the rezoning case presented to the Planning and Zoning Board this month, arguing that vacant land in Arizona Health and Technology Park just south of State Route 60 at Baseline Road and Riker Road should remain designated for a medical campus .

In the face of staff opposition, the board split halfway over whether to allow the 10-acre plot of land to be rezoned into 394 multi-family housing units.

The site is part of a 254-acre area that city officials envisioned in 2004 as a career center for a hospital with a focus on medicine, technology, and education.

AT Still University School of Medicine and several medical facilities are active in the park, but the hospital Tenet Healthcare was considering never started.

In 2007 rival company Banner Health opened Banner Gateway Medical Center across from Higley to the west, and a lawyer for VHS Acquisition Subsidiary, a holding company of Tenet, told the board that Tenet was no longer interested in building the hospital, leaving the company 65 acres of undeveloped land In a prime location in Mesa.

“Tenet Healthcare is not in competition with a company that actually serves a patient base. There is no place for another (hospital) campus,” attorney Charles Holmantle told the board.

To dispose of 65 acres of land, the company has placed orders for two of the most marketable projects in Mesa at the moment: multi-family housing and logistics warehouse.

But the land has been designated a “theme area,” and is “designed to provide large single-use spaces such as a campus, airport, or medical facility.”

For the two largest, Tenet proposes a 50-acre logistics warehouse complex with a total area of ​​675,000 square feet spread over eight buildings.

The so-called Baseline Logistics park was first put on the agenda in July, but the applicant requested that the hearing continue three times, making the 10-acre Millennium Superstition Springs condo project the first cases of health park rezoning to be brought before a council.

A hearing at the logistics complex is scheduled for September 28.

Neighboring AT Still University in Mesa opened in 2001 and includes a medical school, a dental school, and graduate schools in health studies and health sciences.

AT Still supports the Millennium Superstition Springs apartment project, considering it student housing, but otherwise they want to keep the vision of the specialty medical campus subdivision as it is.

“Academic healthcare communities thrive best when there are places close to learning (places of clinical care), sharing and creating ideas (places of interaction), developing supportive technologies, exercising, living, and daring community children to dream (schools, field trips,” Dr. Gary said. Cloud, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AT Still in a statement, YMCA, etc.), eats and exercises.

He wrote: “Although the Trucking Center is important to society and society, it does not support the vision of the academic community nearby.”

City employees haven’t weighed in on the warehouse complex yet. But as far as the apartment complex is concerned, city employees are fighting to maintain a division of the Arizona Health and Technology Park’s specialty campus.

Defending the city’s rejection recommendation, Nana Appiah, Director of Development Services, said: “One of the main issues here is that this is one of the core areas of the city that is really left for such a large area to be developed for employment uses.”

“We are aware of the need (for housing), however, there are several other sites in the city that could be developed for housing,” he said.

Appiah said developers are constantly asking the city to reallocate commercial or industrial land for residential use, and Mesa often allows it.

But Appiah said, “This is one of the areas where we believe that taking this working land for habitation is not the correct and appropriate use of the site and, at the end of the day, is not promoting the objective of the economic development of the city.”

Frequently-going resident of the Arizona Health and Technology Business Park, Ann Elise McCain, has been watching the area’s 65-acre free space like a hawk since she discovered the sign posted about the state of the logistical rezoning.

She supports the apartments, as they could serve as student housing for AT Still, but she sees the larger warehouse project completely wrong for the area.

“This is the last thing Mesa, another large warehouse complex, might need. Give (the vacant land) time,” McCain said.

The attorney representing the condominium project argued that the specialist campus concept had sufficient time to realize; If there was more demand from the distinguished medical and technical users of this area, they would have appeared by now.

Some Planning Council members were sympathetic to this argument.

Board member Troy Peterson said, “It seems like, especially during the last 10 years of hyper-growth and development, if there’s been a demand for the things we’re talking about here, why hasn’t that happened after the last 10 years?”

Board member Jessica Sarkissian predicted that the success of other tech hubs in the city could attract interest in Baseline and Recker.

“I think at this point some things are being taken apart by the madness that’s going on at Elliott Trail (Road Tech), given it’s fairly close to the car’s mileage,” Sarkissian said.

Others retracted the idea that the city should change the sanitary and technological division due to the long vacancy of the land.

Appiah said that if the city backtracked every time a developer wanted to redistrict industrial land on the grounds that it was unemployed, Mesa would “redivide the majority of land uses… into residential areas.”

“This is one of the sites where we think there is more demand, and there are other potential uses that we should be conserving if we can get those uses,” Appiah said.

Board member Jeffrey Beecher noted that as the landowner, Tenet “controls who goes there, so the fact that it’s vacant is somewhat of their choice.”

“The other thing I’m concerned about is, there’s between Hegley and Greenfield from North Baseline, there’s 2,100 apartments there, and I don’t know if there’s really a need that (the project) will resolve,” Beecher said.

Pitcher joined Chairman Jeffrey Crockett and Board Member Shelly Allen in voting on a motion to deny VHS Aquisition’s request to return the district.

Sarkissian, Peterson, and Genesee Montes voted against the motion to reject.

With the absence of a seventh board member who could break the tie, the move failed.

When the case goes to the city council, the city attorney said, the agenda will report on a 3-3 council vote.

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