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Wed, May 22

Hilton Garden Inn gets rezoning OK from Prescott Council
Developer responds to persistent questions

The Prescott City Council heard an update this week on the progress of the Hilton Garden Inn project, which is planned near the corner of Montezuma and Sheldon streets in downtown Prescott. The artist’s rendering shown here offers a view of the hotel from the Montezuma Street side. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

The Prescott City Council heard an update this week on the progress of the Hilton Garden Inn project, which is planned near the corner of Montezuma and Sheldon streets in downtown Prescott. The artist’s rendering shown here offers a view of the hotel from the Montezuma Street side. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Questions that have plagued the new Hilton Garden Inn planned in downtown Prescott took center stage Tuesday, when the developer provided a number of answers to the Prescott City Council.

The responses apparently satisfied the council members, who unanimously approved a needed zoning change during their voting session later Tuesday, March 26.

Among the issues that Steven Shumway of WSH Hospitality addressed was the persisting community claim that developers were not paying market value for the city-owned parcel near the corner of Montezuma and Sheldon streets.

Shumway listed a number of public-benefit expenses that the developers would pay on top of the $300,000 purchase price. In all, he said, developers would pay $2.6 million, including expenses for public parking, improvements to the adjacent railroad trestle, and trail improvements.

With those expenses added in, Shumway said developers would be paying $31.23 per square foot for the 1.91-acre parcel. “That price per square foot exceeds any price we’ve been able to find near or even close in value or proximity to this parcel,” he said.

Shumway also provided figures indicating that the project would bring about $20.6 million to the city over the coming 10 year in total direct, tax, and economic benefits.

Along with the financial issues, Shumway said the presentation was intended, in part, to answer questions that came up at previous meetings of the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission. Although the commissioners recommended approval of the rezoning, they included a number of suggestions for improving the project.

Much of the concern by the commission centered on the height of the building along Montezuma Street. Commissioners had questioned the plans to have the building rise 55 feet so close to streets, which is a main gateway into downtown Prescott. They suggested that the height be lower along the street, and stepped back gradually toward the rear of the building.

But such a plan would not comply with the city’s height limits, Shumway said, noting that raising the hotel’s height in the back would not be possible “because of the 55-foot height limitations imposed by the city.”

Councilman Phil Goode said he also had been concerned about the street-front height of the building, but said the developer’s latest conceptual rendering “shows it in a better light.” To help soften the impact of the building, Goode suggested that street-side landscaping should include trees in the 25-to-30-foot height.

Shumway responded that in its recent hotel project in Flagstaff, the developers had used 35-foot trees, which helped to soften the building. “It will be the same intent on Montezuma,” he said.

Shumway also responded to a question that emerged about the use of the nearby Sam Hill Warehouse building for conference space.

He reported that the hotel’s purchase of the warehouse – “the last of five pieces that really needed to come together in order to make this project happen” – had been approved about two weeks ago by owner Prescott College.

In February, another purchase offer had emerged for the historic warehouse building, but Shumway said the developer’s purchase of building had since been approved to be used as conference space, as initially proposed.

“It’s a fairly significant step, and one that contributes to the viability of the project in creating conference space for the city,” Shumway said.

The presentation took place during Tuesday’s council study session, and the council vote on the rezoning from business regional/natural open space to downtown business district and recreation space took place during the later voting meeting.

No one from the public asked to speak on the matter at either meeting, and council members were complimentary of the hotel’s plans.

“It makes sense to me that what you’re bringing into the downtown will rejuvenate the downtown,” said Councilman Jim Lamerson. “This looks great. Thanks for being willing to invest in my town.”

Shumway said the design work on new hotel is moving forward “at full speed,” and should be complete by April 8.

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