Phoenix judge backs decision to block Federales from Roosevelt Row | Phoenix New Times
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Judge backs decision to block Federales from Roosevelt Row

The controversial cantina proposed for Roosevelt Row faces another setback with latest ruling.
Federales was dealt a blow in Marciopa County Superior Court on Monday. Plans for the bar and restaurant were met with "unprecedented" neighborhood opposition.
Federales was dealt a blow in Marciopa County Superior Court on Monday. Plans for the bar and restaurant were met with "unprecedented" neighborhood opposition. Four Corners
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Ten months after the Phoenix Board of Adjustment blocked the path to building a controversial taco and tequila spot on Roosevelt Row, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has done the same, denying an appeal from Federales.

Judge Scott Blaney issued a ruling on Monday after weighing written and oral arguments from the city of Phoenix and Federales, a restaurant and bar from the Chicago-based hospitality group Four Corners that faced “unprecedented” opposition from neighborhood residents and businesses.

In his ruling, Blaney said the board’s decision, based on concerns over parking, was proper.

“(The court) finds the Board’s decision to deny (Federales) a variance to allow required parking to be located on another lot 520 feet away was not against the weight of evidence, unreasonable, erroneous or illegal as a matter of law,” the ruling read.

The judge's decision marks another blow for Federales, which seeks to build on a long-vacant parcel on the northeast corner of Second and Roosevelt streets.

A court public information officer said that the ruling isn’t necessarily the final word on this case; it could be appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Representatives from Federales, the city and neighborhood opponents did not respond immediately to requests for comment from Phoenix New Times on Tuesday.
click to enlarge Federales City of Phoenix hearing
Neighbors of a proposed Federales restaurant and bar appealed the initial approval of permits and variances needed to develop the lot in 2023.
Sara Crocker

What happened leading up to this ruling?

The proposal to bring the cantina to the arts and entertainment district ignited a wave of pushback last year from neighbors and business owners. They raised concerns about an array of issues ranging from the establishment’s name to the possible impact a new building would put on parking and walkability.

Those concerns were presented on June 1 to the Phoenix Board of Adjustment, a seven-member panel appointed by the City Council to hear and decide appeals related to zoning. Federales needed, and was initially granted, zoning variances and use permits that would allow it to build the one-story indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar.

During the hearing, a sticking issue for the board was parking. Under its proposed plans for the lot, Federales would not have any parking on-site but would rely on a garage that is 520 feet away, or 220 feet further than allowed under the city’s zoning ordinance. In a unanimous vote, the board overturned all of Federales’ zoning approvals, teeing up the cantina’s appeal in Maricopa County Superior Court.

In his ruling, Blaney agreed that the board had properly made its ruling based on the evidence it heard in regard to increased traffic and lack of parking along Roosevelt Row.

“Even if the Court agrees with (Federales) that the difference between walking 300 feet and walking 520 feet is negligible in practice, the Court may not substitute its opinion for that of the board, particularly after the board has received significant public input,” Blaney’s ruling read.

The judge did disagree with the board’s ruling to deny a variance that would allow Federales to be built out to the sidewalk, “particularly when considering many properties in the area already have a zero-foot setback,” the ruling read.

Given the denial of the appeal based on parking, Blaney declined to review two other use permits in question in the case.
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