New deal for Scottsdale’s vacant freeway corridor

After decades of sitting vacant, a raw piece of land along the 101 freeway in north Scottsdale is seeing some action.

Insurance and financial services giant Nationwide Mutual received city approval in June to build its regional headquarters and a multi-use development project on 136 acres north of the freeway near Hayden Road and Legacy Boulevard.

It is an ambitious project. Plans are for up to 1.8 million square feet of offices, two hotels, plus retail and residential space to be built in three phases. It is estimated to pump $9.8 billion into the economy and create 7,300 jobs on and off site by buildout.

The Scottsdale City Council voted 5-2 to approve the development agreement with the company’s real estate arm, Nationwide Realty Investors, Ltd.

Before moving forward, Nationwide must bid on the property at a State Land Department auction because it lies inside 1,000 acres of state land trust property that sits on both sides of the freeway east of Scottsdale Road.

“Should Nationwide be the successful bidder for this state land, we couldn’t ask for a better prospect for an anchor and tone setter for the area,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said.

Vice Mayor Guy Phillips and council members Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte and Linda Milhaven also voted in favor of the project that is close to the Grayhawk master-planned community.

“I view the Nationwide land purchase not as just a new building going up but as an economic engine for Scottsdale’s future,” said Phillips, adding that nearby residents should see their property appreciate from the development. “If the Grayhawk community is desirable now, it will be even more desirable as these amenities are introduced into their local economy.”

According to the agreement, Nationwide will put in more than $30 million in infrastructure and improvements including the extension of Miller Road and widening of Hayden to improve access. Scottsdale would reimburse up to $21.9 million of that over the three phases.

Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp said this is the first expressed interest in the land, and the city doesn’t want to lose a regional headquarters to a competing community like Phoenix or the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Nationwide already has a strong presence in Scottsdale and the city wants to retain it, she said.  

“This would be a very good use of the land and we don’t have much vacant land like this in Scottsdale,” Klapp said. “There is a factor here that we are competing with other cities. We want to retain Nationwide’s jobs and encourage their expansion plan in Scottsdale.”

Currently, Nationwide has 1,240 employees at Gainey Ranch and other sites in the city.  If Nationwide is successful in its bid, the entire project would support 5,500 jobs. Another new 1,800 jobs would be created with suppliers to the site

Other supporters of the proposed development are the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arizona Commerce Authority, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Arizona Public Service.

Dissenting councilmembers Kathy Littlefield and David Smith and some citizens voiced concerns about the process moving too quickly, new building heights, density and drainage. Buildings as high as 115 feet would be allowed right next to the elevated freeway. Heights would lower incrementally as they move outward.

To view the approved development agreement, go to:

Victoria Harker

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