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Thu, May 23

Concerns arise over hotel height along Montezuma Street
Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission delves into building details of Hilton Garden Inn

Prescott Planning and Zoning Commissioner Ted Gambogi, left, asks a question about the plans for the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Prescott, while fellow Commissioner Ken Mabarak and Commission Chairman George Sheats look on. The commission kicked off a public review of the building details of the hotel project during its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. A vote on a proposed rezoning and site plan could take place at the next commission meeting on Feb. 14. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Prescott Planning and Zoning Commissioner Ted Gambogi, left, asks a question about the plans for the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Prescott, while fellow Commissioner Ken Mabarak and Commission Chairman George Sheats look on. The commission kicked off a public review of the building details of the hotel project during its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. A vote on a proposed rezoning and site plan could take place at the next commission meeting on Feb. 14. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

With official city approval now in hand, the Hilton Garden Inn project in downtown Prescott is entering a new phase — public review of the building details.

And one of the major details to emerge this week was the scale and height of the hotel building — located so close to Montezuma Street, one of downtown’s premier gateway routes.

Two members of the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission voiced reservations Thursday, Jan. 31, about the plans to have the hotel building rise 55 feet within about 12 feet of Montezuma Street.

Commissioner Mel Roop displayed current photos of the area approaching from the north on Montezuma Street, heading toward Granite Creek Park.

He suggested that the developers should “soften” the impact of the hotel height — perhaps by having a lower elevation in the front and stepping it back to a higher elevation farther from Montezuma Street.

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Front elevation drawings of the Hilton Garden Inn. (Courtesy)

“Can you play with that to have a lower elevation at the street?” Roop asked, adding, “It’s a monolithic structure, and it’s pretty imposing.”

Although stressing that he supports the hotel use on the property, Roop said the route along Montezuma Street into the downtown “is, I think, the most important gateway into the city.”

Commissioner Ken Mabarak also brought up issues with the height of the building, noting that he has “trouble with the size and height” of the building so close to the street.

Planning Manager George Worley responded that the large trees in the western section of Granite Creek Park would help to lessen the impact. “The building is going to be screened by existing vegetation,” he said.

Still, commissioners asked to have more detailed information about the location of the trees in relation to the street and the planned hotel building before the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in February.

After the meeting, Community Development Director Bryn Stotler said her department likely would reach out to the developers about ways to deal with the commissioners’ height concerns. “We’ll explore it with them,” she said.

She added, though, that there is likely no “hard and fast requirement for them to address that.”

The current height and setback meet the Downtown Business zoning requirements, Stotler said, and if the developers were to lower the building elevation along Montezuma Street, they likely would have to make up for it in the rear, where “they’ve got the limitation of the floodway.”

Thursday’s commission meeting came after the Prescott City Council unanimously approved an amended agreement with the hotel developers on Jan. 22, allowing the developers, WSH Hospitality, to a lease/purchase a 1.9-acre piece of city-owned land at the corner of Sheldon and Montezuma streets.

This week’s planning-and-zoning agenda included an introduction of a proposed rezoning of the property from Business Regional to Downtown Business, as well as an introduction of a site plan for the proposed hotel.

Along with concerns about the street-side building height, questions also came up about the parking included in the project.

Local resident Howard Mechanic, who has voiced opposition to the city’s handling of the project from the outset, maintained that the planned parking spaces would be inadequate to handle both the hotel business and the additional public events being proposed for the area around the hotel.

“If you have activities, such as the farmers market, which requires 200 parking spaces,” Mechanic asked how the project would handle the additional demand.

Developer Shane Shumway of WSH Hospitality responded: “Most of the hotel usage is during the night” after about 5 p.m., and during the day, the hotel spaces could be used for event space.

Since about August 2018, discussion has been underway on WSH Hospitality’s plans for a 101-room hotel on the city-owned land adjacent to the old downtown railroad trestle.

The commission took no votes this week, and Worley said the next meeting on the matter would occur at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, when a public hearing will take place, as well as a possible vote by the commission. The commission meets at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

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