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Case No. Z-10-23/GPA-SM-3-23
Proposed Change: The request is seeking to Rezone the property located approximately 745’ east of the northeast corner of Baseline Road and 23rd Avenue (the “Site”). The request is to change the zoning from S-1 to R-2 and simultaneously process a minor general plan amendment to allow Sparrow to develop the site with a quality multi-family residential community. The project will provide approximately 177 one and two-story single family attached homes at a density of 10.5 du/gross acres. The proposed development will allow for meaningful, appropriately designed residential neighborhood to occur on this site. The development will create the opportunity for additional new housing choices in the immediate area and provide an appropriate land use transition from the existing commercial center to the east and the single-family homes on the west.
Existing Use: The majority of the Site is currently vacant and has been undeveloped for decades. The proposed multi-family residential community is designed with neighborhood-scale mass and form to provide diverse housing types and densities that support a broad range of lifestyles.
South Mountain Neighborhood
Carefully designed with “new home” features but at more attainable prices, South Mountain offers yards, direct access garages, dining rooms, work-from-home spaces and patios—features more typically found in single-family neighborhoods.
Though we are a “build-to-rent” community (BTR), our homes are unique in the metro, almost a rebuttal to what has been prolific in the Phoenix area: housing that resembles “picked-apart” apartments, crammed around a garden. Our neighborhood is thoughtfully and holistically designed, meaning all the elements work together to create a cohesive and interactive community.
What Sets Us Apart From Other BTR Developments
- Homes face one another with landscaped pedestrian corridors connecting neighbors and the community.
- Doors face the street to lend drive-by appeal, characteristic of traditional single-family neighborhoods.
- Mix of one- and two-story homes, many with driveways and direct access garages, typical of the build-to-own neighborhood model.
- One-story homes and landscape buffers along perimeter boundaries—this aids the transition from our project to adjacent land uses, integrating South Mountain and enhancing what surrounds it.
- Full amenity center with pool, dog park, community garden and activity lawn.
- Walking trails and extensive green-scape buffers.
- Phase 1 development calls for 152 high-quality rental homes on 14.5 acres (Lot 1).
- Phase 2 will add an additional 25 homes on 2.4 acres (Lot 2).
Our total project density is just under 10.5 dwelling units per acre. While denser than the typical single-family home neighborhood at 3.5-5 du/acre, it’s less dense than a typical townhome development at 12 du/acre. Our architects achieved the extra density through a clever—and novel—arrangement of homes and common space amenities. When we say we take a “new” approach to build-to-rent housing, it’s not an empty boast.
Missing Middle Housing: What is it?
Refers to house-scale buildings with multiple units in walkable neighborhoods. Think duplexes, fourplexes, cottage courts and courtyards. They’re called “missing” because they have all but disappeared since the mid-1940s and “middle” because they sit in the middle of a spectrum between single-family homes and mid- to high-rise apartment buildings; in the middle in terms of size, scale, and affordability. South Mountain’s innovative neighborhood helps solve that “missing” housing piece.
"We need a greater mix of housing types to meet differing income and generational needs. This is where Missing Middle Housing can change the conversation.” — Debra Bassert, National Association of Home Builders
Style & Design
Our housing proposal includes several floor plans and elevations, ranging from one to three bedrooms. The architectural style is modern farmhouse, incorporating exterior materials and details appropriate to the scale and design. Complementary color schemes create variety within the development. Each home will have both front and rear covered patios. Front patios and private yards create transitions to outdoor spaces.
One of the ways we’ve been able to achieve the economic feasibility of constructing new homes is by trimming the size of the homes. Though much larger than apartment homes, our homes are smaller than the typical single-family home. Smart design choices like bringing in lots of natural light, increasing ceiling height, and ensuring good “circulation” (the way people move through the unit) makes the homes feel spacious. With an emphasis on flow, we’re able to maximize every square foot, affording space for features such as flex rooms, private studies, and dining rooms.
Most built-to-rent homes in the Phoenix metro skimp on common area amenities. We do not. Our company roots are in building thriving communities among seniors. Activating the community at South Mountain will be the job of our dedicated Lifestyle & Engagement division, facilitating activities such as:
- Potlucks, social hours, and entertainment events
- Biweekly outdoor fitness/wellness events for all ages
- Charitable giving and fundraising for community programs
- Seasonal offerings/parties
- Monthly open arts and crafts time for children and young adults
- Outdoor movies “in the park”
- Pet events
- Food trucks with community specific incentives
- New community member welcome events
- Special guest speakers from community partnerships
Our proposed community will positively impact the surrounding area in the following ways:
- Provide a lower intensity buffer/transition between the existing single-family residential area and the more intense commercial area (with greater traffic) on Baseline Road. With South Mountain in between, there will be less of an abrupt shift between a busy commercial corridor and a quieter neighborhood of single-family houses. Our development will spatially create a relationship between these two disparate zones, unifying the area.
- Provide an attractive, family-friendly development that sits in-between typical rental and for-sale housing. Our target demographics are empty nesters and young families, as well as people in transition, like military families or those relocating to the area for new jobs, people who may not be ready or interested in homeownership.
- Provide that “missing middle,” a high-quality rental neighborhood offering more lifestyle amenities and dedicated open space than what is available in traditional housing. In other words, housing for residents who want the features of a new single-family home but don’t want to buy.
- Provide secure housing, efficient property maintenance, and operations under our single ownership, which promotes long-term residency and neighborhood stability—a more stable option than a scattering of homes for rent by private individuals.
- Create a walkable neighborhood with connectivity and convenience between the surrounding commercial and residential neighborhoods.
- Promote economic development by bringing households in closer proximity to the surrounding commercial areas.
- Stimulate professional services, retail, commercial, and business growth by increasing consumer spending and demand for services.
- Generate new tax receipts and city fees for construction, ongoing lease taxes, plus state-shared revenues that contribute to city services for residents.
- Reduce intensity of traffic compared to other commercial uses or conventional multifamily projects.
Fairness & equity: Whose needs are we meeting?
Housing is a basic human necessity, thus, housing policy is something we’re all stakeholders in. Absent any direct government subsidies, current housing distribution is based on the ability to pay the prices set by the market.
New luxury projects are often criticized as shutting out the needy. But the truth is new rental communities make homes more affordable for everyone, as they set off a process known as “the migration chain.” When a renter vacates a given type of unit, it “loosens the market” for that type of unit, which lowers the price. Other people move into that unit, vacating their given unit and so on, and so on, as the process repeats.
A study of 12 large U.S. markets found that building 100 new market rate rental units opens the equivalent of 70 units in neighborhoods earning below the area’s median income, and 40 units in the area’s poorest neighborhoods—far more than the 5-15 affordable units policymakers often require of developers. - From “The Effect of New Market-Rate Housing Construction on the Low-Income Housing Market” by Evan Mast, Journal of Urban Economics (2021)
Meeting & Hearing Dates
Virtual Neighborhood Meeting – March 29th at 6pm, Arizona time. https://bcattorneys.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ji5X26xyQZGfvGwhXBNjuQ
South Mountain Village Planning Committee Meeting – April 11, 2023, at 6pm Arizona time.
Planning Commission (PC) Hearing – May 4, 2023 at 6pm, Arizona Time.
City Council (CC) Hearing – June 14, 2023 at 2:30pm, Arizona Time.