On Thin Ice

Scottsdale may think it's fixing Los Arcos Mall. But it's really paving the way for a Coyotes arena in Glendale.

Now, I can't fault the developer for trying to force the city council to subsidize what has become a black investment hole. He thought he had nailed three votes, and he pressured Councilman Robert Pettycrew to be the fourth.

"Steve's at the table and he's desperate," Pettycrew says. "And we're not going to bail him out."

But why is Ellman so desperate?

Down in the dumps: While Steve Ellman is asking Scottsdale to bankroll big-box stores at the old Los Arcos site, he still hasn't closed on the land for his Coyotes arena in Glendale.
Kevin Scanlon
Down in the dumps: While Steve Ellman is asking Scottsdale to bankroll big-box stores at the old Los Arcos site, he still hasn't closed on the land for his Coyotes arena in Glendale.

The answer lies not in Los Arcos, but across the Valley in Glendale. According to sources who have a stake in the outcome of the Glendale project, the arena plan is in trouble.

Ellman has already busted the deadline for closing on the land he needs to build the arena, and as of press time he still hadn't. Plus, local businessman Jerry Moyes recently bailed out the $60 million loan Ellman took out to buy the team in the first place. This is on top of Moyes' $20 million initial investment and the millions he's poured into covering the team's losses.

In short, Ellman needs all of the cash he can find to reach his arena dream, and he hoped Scottsdale would help him out.

Scottsdale likely will help out Ellman at Los Arcos -- just not with an unprecedented up-front subsidy. The $60 million parking garage subsidy the city provided for Nordstrom, for instance, has been paid for with city sales taxes.

And Ellman likely will pull off the Glendale arena deal, just the way he pulled off buying the Coyotes franchise in the first place, if only because Moyes has too much invested not to help him out. Ellman is famous for pulling off amazing last-minute deals.

A representative from the Ellman Companies declined comment.

For his part, Councilman Zraket denies he's been used as a pawn by Ellman; but he certainly has set aside one of his strongest beliefs in order to shepherd through Ellman's plan. If anything, the fact that even the famously anti-development Zraket has taken it upon himself to play the role of the peacemaker between the city council and Ellman shows how much has changed in Scottsdale. Perhaps George thought he'd be hailed as the savior of Los Arcos, not a bad thing when you're facing a March 12 election. Too bad he's spent his political clout on an ill-advised Wal-Mart plan, instead of a project that might put Scottsdale's interests ahead of those of a developer.

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