Residents whose properties border the east boundary of the Westward Look Resort are disappointed by Oro Valley’s three proposed economic development plans outlined in a recent economic impact report prepared as the town moves forward with annexing the 75-acre property.
While the annexation is projected to have a positive financial impact for Oro Valley, residents of the Westward Look Heights neighborhood said some of the proposed development could be disastrous. Their main concerns with the plans include seeing their property values drop, less privacy, more traffic congestion and the possibility of increased crime in the area.
The property in question is approximately 18 acres and split into two parcels between the resort’s entrance—Gateway West, which has 4.84 acres, and Gateway East, with the remaining 13.15 acres—would be rezoned for commercial and residential
According to the report compiled by research consultants Applied Economics, Plan A would add 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in Gateway West and 184 luxury apartments throughout Gateway East. Plan B would add 35,000 square feet of office and retail space in Gateway West and 76,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space as well as a 58,000 square-foot business-class hotel in Gateway East. Plan C is more geared toward residential development with 38 one- and two-bedroom units to be constructed in Gateway West and 250 luxury apartments popping up in Gateway East.
Bob Hagan moved to the neighborhood in 1984, back when the Great Wall of Ina was a local sight-seeing attraction and Ina Road was a two-lane street. While Hagan said the neighborhood has changed over the past 36 years, especially since Ina Road expanded to four lanes, the proposed plans would make the area a nightmare for his fellow residents. His property is located in the Gateway East parcel.
“Each of these three plans change the very nature of the neighborhood,” Hagan said. “They’re talking about putting in three-story buildings and high-density development and that’s very inconsistent with this neighborhood.”
Hagan said he appreciates that Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield and Council Member Joyce Jones-Ivy have toured the neighborhood and taken time to listen to his neighbors’ concerns, but he wishes the town and Westward Look Resort would be straightforward with residents about their intentions should the town annex the property. Hagan and his neighbors are anticipating development to “happen sooner rather than later,” he said.
“Right now they’re telling us there is no definitive plan, but when you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, they’ve spent a lot of money on pursuing this,” Hagan said. “You don’t make these kinds of commitments and start spending this kind of money unless you’re dead serious about doing something.”
Hagan said he and other residents may consider leaving the neighborhood if the proposed development continues at the current pace.
“They are trying to work with us, but quite honestly that wasn’t my impression until recently,” Hagan said. “The fact is moving forward with the development affects everything whether they do it right away or not.”
Oro Valley recently released a Planning Area Development Public Outreach Report in December to give residents an idea of what potential impact the proposed developments could have while helping to mitigate concerns. According to the report, Westward Look is cutting back from their proposed building height from four-story to three-story, while limiting building heights within 85 feet of adjacent residential homes to no more than two stories. That’s identical to what is currently allowed by Pima County for single residence zoning in the area.
Hagan’s neighbor, John Rowley, said his biggest concern is what could be built along the easement which is parallel to his backyard after viewing the report. Rowley is opposed to any construction higher than one story because it would erode his family’s privacy.
“In the PAD, they show an overlay where they took a picture from one of our backyards and then overlaid what it would be like to see a building—they want to build a two-story building 85 feet out, and we could really see into that window,” Rowley said. “So, if I can see into the window, they can see into my windows and backyard. I’ll have no privacy.”
Rowley said he would prefer single story residential homes to be built on the Gateway East parcel with a six-foot wall to insure both residents privacy and cut down on transient living associated with apartments and condominiums.
“Everybody here wants Westward Look to survive. We want them to make money,” Rowley said. “It doesn’t help anybody if they have to board it up, but we want some considerations to be made.”
Oro Valley will be holding an online public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, to receive additional feedback from residents about the proposed development plans. For more information, check out OVprojects.com.