A huge building has just been approved for our downtown

At the Carefree Council meeting on 8/29/17 the Council approved by a 6 to 1 vote the proposed development of what is hopefully to be a very upscale luxury rental unit building of 134 units. During the night it became clear that the height of this building would need to be at least 62 to 66 feet tall. (the building height limit in the downtown core is 30 feet). I want to make it very clear: I would LOVE a successful Luxury Apartment structure on this site. But not at the sacrifice of our Town’s unique character.

This writer is the lone NO vote and spent a long time asking various questions and showing a drawing of what the real world would be in total height. Note that the prior agreement with Ed Lewis for this land had an approved total maximum height of 42 feet. (Staff argued that it was meant to say 48 feet because of a parapet surrounding the a/c equipment…but that is not what the approved 2015 document says. it says 42 feet period). THIS BUILDING WILL BE 62 to 66 feet tall, AT THE VERY TOP OF ALL THE EQUIPMENT STRUCTURES, that is MORE THAN 100% HIGHER THEN ANY OF OUR DOWNTOWN BUILDINGS.

Some of the issues I raised…all of which were responded to by the team of Developer, Architect, Town Administrator, or the Mayor.

1) Had the Developer closed on the purchase yet.? Answer NO. Ed Lewis still owns the parcel.

2) If we insisted that the building must be lower, would that be a deal buster? Answer YES.

3) Then we have no choice on the height requested. Answer CORRECT.

4) If I read the document correctly this is the only time Council gets to have an official input on this; the most major development in Town History and unfortunately the answer was: YES, TONIGHT IS IT!!!!

5) Would the Mayor agree to give the Council a second time look even though that is not our practice? Answer NO (and some explanations offered)

6) Will it be all 2 and 3 bedroom units? Answer UNDECIEDED, but a sketch shows 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms.

7) Is the Development Agreement termination date to be 3 years or 5 years? Answer 5 YEARS.

8) Why don’t the documents say “Luxury Rental Apartments”? Answer: DO TO FINANCING ISSUES.

9) Are the investors experienced in building, and managing apartments such as this proposed unit? Answer: YES, IN FLORIDA.

10) Why were no drawings or sketches available to us given this is our only time to vote? the Answer: THEY OFFERED A ROUGH SKETCH AND THE REST WILL COME LATER.

11) We have had this lot on our plate for 11 years, with 4 different sets of Mayor/ Council involved. It was originally sold as an emergency type deal, and now 11 years later we are being told to take it or leave it, “this is the deal we must accept tonight”.

This writer does not feel our residents want a huge building in the town core. Our great founding fathers and those who managed our incorporation wanted a downtown Carefree much different than just another ‘Scottsdale Type Tall Development”, with high density housing outside the immediate town center area’. Our residents filled the 100 Easy Street chamber, wall to wall just last year to object to any height level above 30 feet. And the residents also do not get a chance to vote this major change at any time during the process.

I voted NO and there are no circumstances under which I could offer any support for the development as presented. You will hear and read all types of grand reasons this is ‘Gods gift to Carefree’s future’. Folks make up your own mine. This is YOUR TOWN. And it is about to be forever changed.

Feel free to email the Council or the Mayor as to your opinions. Council@Carefree.org and Mayor@ Carefree.org

A sincere and very disappointed

Jim Van Allen

Resident and Council Member.