The public got a glimpse of a proposed plan on the former Biddle’s property that calls for a hotel, condos, retail space and restaurant.
During a Thursday, Sept. 28, conceptual hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, Curt and Robin Baney, owners of the Oxford Suites hotel chain, and their representatives discussed the proposed project.
The couple is requesting a development review and zone change for a proposed mix of uses including lodging, restaurant/bar, retail, multi-family residential and efficiency housing apartments. The project, located on six acres on State Route 89A across from Soldier Pass Road, is being called The Village at Saddlerock.
“We’ve been a property owner here in Sedona for more than 10 years,” Curt Baney said. “We’ve been accumulating property on the site and have been planning this for this development for quite a few years. We look forward to being part of the community.”
The Baney family owns 19 other hotels located in Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho.
According to a staff report, the purpose of the conceptual review is to give review agencies, staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the general public an opportunity to familiarize themselves with, and provide comments on a development proposal in its early, conceptual stage of design.
The process also affords the applicant an opportunity to become aware of major issues, concerns and suggestions prior to the completion of more detailed plans for comprehensive development review. This creates a more timely mechanism through which early design concepts may be revised to address areas of concerns.
In its letter of intent to the city, the Baneys state that the proposed plan consists of 126 lodging units, meeting facilities for lodging guests only, a business/exercise facility, pool and sauna. It is sited south of the proposed commercial uses to provide a buffer to adjacent residences bordering to the south.
Landscape screening and a parking area separate the lodge from residences by approximately 80 feet. The central pool terrace, courtyard, cabana and adjacent three-story lodging structures are depressed four to seven feet into grade to minimize visual, noise and light impact and allow for compliance with the requirements for building height and massing set forth by city code.
The retail/public gathering plaza would be located at the corner of Soldier Pass and State Route 89A, containing approximately 9,500 square feet of space for future tenants. The individual retail spaces vary from 800 to 1,500 square feet in addition to a 4,400-square-foot restaurant. There are also five employee housing units proposed.
The letter of intent also states that neighbors have suggested they would like to see a restaurant/bar, bistro, café, bike shop, barber/beauty shop, newspaper stand, snack bar, gift shop and art gallery.
“Twelve multi-family dwelling units, located in a complex with 10 elite lodging units at SR 89A and Saddle Rock Circle, are of similar floor plan layout to add market flexibility and at a minimum replace the 12 multi-family dwelling units that could have been developed on the parcel with the existing zoning,” the letter states.
Staff pointed out a number inconsistencies within the documentation for the project. Some include:
The design is referred to as “recall[ing] simple pioneer structures of a century ago” and “detailed in the spirit of the grand lodges of the 20th century that exemplified arrival to unique and mystical destination.” Simple pioneer structures are generally not compatible with the design of grand lodges.
The Baney Corporation is described as being a “family-owned company, giving back to the communities” while also stating that “corporate room design, efficiency, function and serviceability drive this regime.”
A different number of rooms and square footage of retail is listed.
The smaller site plans showing the condos, elite lodging units and retail buildings do not match the overall site plan.
The scales used on the elevations are not consistent and do not appear to be accurate.
Number and location of trees to be retained are different on different plans.
The commissioners had concerns and comments of their own. These include that none of the materials from the historic buildings on the site were saved; the desire to see more housing than lodging; blocking the viewshed of nearby homes; assurance that the 12 condos will not be used for short-term rentals; pedestrian access within the property; and how the projects conform with the Sedona Community Plan and the community focus area.
“This project has more than 85 percent lodging,” Chairman Marty Losoff said. “I don’t see how this is neighborhood-friendly and what the neighbors are going to get out of it. The city may benefit from it economically but from the neighborhood CFA, I’m kind of lost with the idea of what the benefits are to the community.”