One of several renderings shown during a community open house for the Museum Square project.EXPAND
One of several renderings shown during a community open house for the Museum Square project.
Lynn Trimble

A Museum Square Development Is in the Works for Downtown Scottsdale

A proposed development called Museum Square could be taking shape in downtown Scottsdale.

It’s the work of ARC Scottsdale Holdings and the Vancouver-based real estate development firm Macdonald Development Corporation.

Developers submitted a 192-page plan to the city of Scottsdale in June to support its request for zoning changes that will have to occur before the mixed-use development can move forward. The changes would allow for taller buildings on the site.

The plan calls for a four-star hotel, a boutique hotel, four luxury multilevel residential buildings, and an outdoor multiuse public space. The plan will need city approval before construction begins.

Checking out the Museum Square plan during a July 12 open house.EXPAND
Checking out the Museum Square plan during a July 12 open house.
Lynn Trimble

If all goes as planned, the four-star hotel will be developed first, on the northwest corner of Marshall Way and Second Street, where the city once operated the Loloma Transit Center.

The hotel will be surrounded by three existing arts venues, including Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Scottsdale Artists' School, and Stagebrush Theatre.

“We hope to break ground in late 2019 or early 2020,” John Berry says. He’s a founding partner of Berry Riddell, the Scottdale-based law firm representing the developers.

The plan has been a year in the making, according to Berry.

“We want to create a focal point for the arts district that has historically been the center of Scottsdale’s arts community,” he says.

Museum Square was designed by Scottsdale-based Swaback, an architecture and planning firm with a long list of Arizona clients including Arizona Biltmore, Desert Botanical Garden, and Paradise Valley Country Club.

The design aesthetic is desert classic contemporary, according to Swaback partner Jeffrey Denzak. “We’ll compliment the Museum of the West’s design with materials, and similar scale and shapes,” he says.

Once completed, the mixed-use development will comprise more than seven acres. Land was purchased from the city for close to $28 million, according to Berry.

Checking out the proposed heights for Museum Square buildings.EXPAND
Checking out the proposed heights for Museum Square buildings.
Lynn Trimble

Here’s a look at key elements of the plan, which interested community members can view online:

• 13-story hotel on the northwest corner of North Marshall Way and Second Street. The hotel may include a ground-floor restaurant, outdoor dining, wine bar, and interactive art gallery.
• Boutique hotel (Canopy by Hilton) located east of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.
• Three residential buildings comprising condominiums located off Goldwater Boulevard between North Marshall Way and Second Street. The tallest will be 13 stories high, and the shortest will be 11 stories high.
• A four-story residential building comprising rental units on the northeast corner of North Marshall Way and Second Street.
• A public, outdoor multiuse space.
• Below-grade parking for the 13-story hotel and four residential buildings.

The current plan calls for completing the main hotel first, followed by the building with rental units to the east of the hotel, then the trio of condominiums along Goldwater Boulevard.

The larger hotel will displace an administrative building for Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, which sits on a former transit station site. But developers plan to collaborate with the city on a museum expansion to accommodate a larger museum collection, plus new administrative, office, and library space.

They’ll also work with the city on improvements for Stagebrush Theatre, which is located on city-owned property just west of the museum. The performing arts venue is home to Greasepaint Theater, a longtime staple of the Scottsdale arts scene.

Developers will incorporate public art as well, Berry says. That’s actually mandated by the city, which requires large-scale planned block developments downtown to include public art worth at least one percent of their value (or donate the equivalent to a downtown cultural trust fund).

Even so, both Berry and Denzak are focusing on the larger impact Museum Square could have on downtown Scottsdale. “We think this will be an important project for the arts district,” Denzak says.

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