By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Another who could stand to benefit from the South Mountain Toll Road is Phoenix developer William Robert Burns.
Burns is best known for proposing Sun Valley, a $34 billion master-planned community he envisioned north and west of the White Tank Mountains.
The $30 million Sun Valley Parkway paved the way for a financial debacle. The road, which connects Bell Road with Interstate 10, was financed with $83 million in industrial bonds secured by the Sun Valley property. When those bonds went into default, some 1,000 people who had invested in Sun Valley property lost their holdings to foreclosures or bankruptcy.
Today, Burns is negotiating to buy a quarter of a 600-acre parcel of prime state land bordered by 19th and 27th avenues, South Mountain Park and the Gila River Indian Community. The land lies immediately west of a subdivision being developed by UDC Homes and east of a partial section of land in which Burns has an optioned interest.
Like their counterparts in South Carolina, developers, the Indian community, the park preservationists and the neighborhood activists have nothing to lose and much to gain if a toll road is built on reservation land.
All of which has apparently made Michael Lavelle, the Allstate attorney who blew the whistle on Interwest, a bit of a spoiler in some people's eyes.
"Right after we filed our suit, I started getting calls from some of the folks with land out there around South Mountain," Lavelle says. "Boy, were they pissed!