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Fitch Industries held a second public meeting Wednesday, June 6, on lodging at the former Sedona Cultural Park but still hasn’t closed escrow on the property.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

Fitch Industries held a second public meeting Wednesday, June 6, on lodging at the former Sedona Cultural Park but still hasn’t closed escrow on the property.

Sedona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff asked if Fitch Industries is worried there is a negative perception in the community toward the project since it didn’t close in January — the month previously named for the closing.

Fitch Industries does worry about that, Fitch Industries Executive Administrator Monty Fitch said, but January was the first of several closing dates, not the only one.

“We’re moving along fine on closing on the escrow,” Fitch said.

Fitch Industries is pursing a second Community Plan Future Land Use Map amendment for 23 acres of the 44-acre parcel to include lodging in its development. In November, Sedona City Council approved the first amendment but left lodging out.

Fitch Industries isn’t the only company involved financially in the closing, according to Fitch, and it made sense for all         parties involved to close later.

Although Fitch would not give a specific closing date, he said, “We’re coming up close.”

A group approached Fitch Industries about using the amphitheater for an event the second week of October, according to Fitch. For the amphitheater to be used, a check list of repairs created by the city of Sedona has to be completed.

For Fitch Industries to do any work on the property, escrow has to be closed first.

If the event is held at the amphitheater in October, Fitch must first close escrow and then repair the venue, Fitch said.

When council approved Fitch Industries’ first plan amendment changing the property’s designation from “public/semi-public” to “planned area,” it included refurbishment of the amphitheater and conference center.

Council took out the lodging component that Fitch Industries added to the development late in the process. At that time, council didn’t feel proper public notification occurred.

Fitch cited two studies — the 2004 Performing Arts and Conference Center Feasibility Study and the 2007 Sell and Associates Study — that            concluded Sedona needs a conference center. The studies also reported lodging needs to be within close proximity.

“Both of those were independent studies that determined what the market of Sedona could hold,” Fitch said.

Fitch Industries plans to incorporate the conference center and resort with the amphitheater.

“Our idea is utilizing the amphitheater that’s already in existence as part of this,” Fitch said.

The top section of the amphitheater will be removed, reducing the number of seats from 5,000 to 2,000. The conference center will be built where the top section is now and lodging will be built on top of the conference center.

Fitch Industries is also currently working with the city on rezoning 6.78 acres of the property for the Sedona Village, an arts and retail plaza located near the amphitheater.

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