Despite residents’ protests, substation to be moved

Lynh Bui, The Arizona Republic

The Scottsdale City Council approved an alleyway abandonment that will make way to relocate a controversial SRP electrical substation to the northeastern corner of 68th Street and Indian School Road.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the abandonment in a seven-hour meeting that began Wednesday evening and stretched past midnight into Thursday morning.

After hours of public testimony, Mayor Jim Lane and the City Council entered a discussion dominated by questions about how to guarantee the developer and SRP would move the substation and make it aesthetically pleasing.

Scottsdale Canal Development LLC, the developer of Solis Scottsdale Resort and Residences, requested the abandonment so a substation at Scottsdale and Camelback roads could be moved to make way for a luxury hotel project.

But the abandonment and relocation sparked strong protests from residents who do not want a substation in their neighborhood and who felt they were excluded from the public outreach process.

The substation “should not be outsourced to another neighborhood that doesn’t need it and would not benefit from it,” said Kim Edwards, president of a neighborhood group in the area and vocal opponent of the project.

Roughly 50 people offered testimony Wednesday night, and many were in favor of the development. They said Solis would boost local economic development.

“This project is precisely the kind of economic development our community needs now and for our future,” said Cindi Eberhardt, vice president of economic development and public policy for the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Jim Lane and council members Lisa Borowsky, Wayne Ecton, Suzanne Klapp and Rob McCullagh voted in favor of the abandonment. Councilmen Bob Littlefield and Tony Nelssen voted against.

There was little discussion about why certain council members were in favor of the project. Instead, they pressed SRP and the developer to agree to several deed restrictions and stipulations to prevent the relocation from falling through.

Deed restrictions stipulated the following:

  • – Power lines running from the new substation must be buried from 68th Street to GoldwaterBoulevard.
  • – SRP must design and build the substation subject to the city’s Design Review Board, and make the pedestrian park surrounding the substation look similar to renderings presented to the council.
  • – Construction of the substation must start within a year, subject to any necessary SRP extensions.
  • – The developer must take the $13 million committed to relocating the substation and put the money in a joint account with SRP within 60 days.
  • – The developer must transfer the title for the land at 68th Street and Indian School to SRP within six months.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, the City Council approved – also by a 5-to-2 vote – the developer’s rezoning request, which will allow for the resort project on Scottsdale and Camelback roads.

The Solis proposal includes a resort with more than 200 rooms and a spa, about 140 resort residences, and high-end shops and restaurants.

Mark Madkour, principal of Scottsdale Canal Development, said he was elated by the council’s decision.

He planned to sit down with SRP officials to work on “fine tuning the timelines” for moving and designing the substation.


The Scottsdale City Council has a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to move the SRP substation “from the most visible and most well-known intersection in the most visible, most well0known city in the Southwest.”
  – John Berry, zoning attorney representing Scottsdale Canal Development

“This process is about figuring out how to resolve problems. It’s not about putting the problems on someone else’s watch.”
  -Mark Madkour, principal for Scottsdale Canal Development

When you hear the phrases, “for the good of Scottsdale” or “the greatest good for the greatest number,” it means that “somebody’s neighborhood is about to take it in the shorts.”
  – Richard Jahrmarkt, Scottsdale resident opposed to substation relocation

“Making their unwanted substation someone else’s problem is a bad idea.”
  – Helena Elling, Scottsdale resident opposed to substation relocation

By the numbers:

Proponents say Solis Resort and Residences will bring:

  • 240 rooms.
  • 140 resort residences.
  • 2 new pedestrian bridges across the Arizona canal.
  • $600 million of estimated real-estate investment.
  • 126 million of estimated direct tax revenue to the city over 25 years.
  • 3.1 million of estimated one-time construction sales tax revenue to the city.
  • 800 new jobs.

View the online news article.

Berry asks those who support the Solis Project to raise their hands.

John Berry, speaks on behalf of the Solis Scottsdale Resort and Residences, which will benefit from the substation’s move. The developer of Solis, Scottsdale Canal Development, LLC, had requested the abandonment to move the substation to make way for a luxury hotel project.

A packed house attends a Scottsdale council meeting Wednesday night. After hours of public testimony, the council approved an alleyway abandonment that will make way for the relocation of an SRP electrical substation to 68th Street and Indian School Road.