IF YOU GO
What: Surprise City Council regular meeting
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza
By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
City leaders last week advanced a plan, which – if approved – would add more than 2,000 homes to the southwest part of town.
Responding to a developer’s application, the Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission approved a preliminary plat for the Toll Brothers at Prasada project during their regular meeting March 15 at City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza.
To be built in 10 phases over 15 to 20 years, the community would add 2,207 homes in 18 development parcels on roughly 772 acres (or 1.2 square miles) of desert land bounded by Cactus Road, Peoria Avenue, Cotton Lane and 175th Avenue.
The first phase will consist of 463 lots situated near the northeast corner of the property, as well as a nine-hole executive golf course, recreation center, club house, model home sales office and two entrances.
The initial phase will also include several roadway projects, including half-street improvements providing curb, gutter, sidewalk, paving, median and landscaping along Cactus Road from Cotton Lane to 175th Avenue.
The other half of the roadway will be improved later with development of neighboring parcels, according to city planner Robert Kuhfuss.
“They will be installing the half-width improvements along Cactus, from Cotton Land out to 175th Avenue,” said Mr. Kuhfuss. “They will be building, basically, the south half of that road … and when the property to the north comes in, they’ll finish out the north half.”
A temporary two-lane asphalt-paved street will run along Peoria Avenue west from Cotton Lane to the southern entrance into the neighborhood, while half-street improvements will continue east to 175th Avenue.
Planning commissioner Gisele Norberg worried about the effect the new neighborhood might have on a rapidly-growing area already burdened by heavy vehicle traffic.
“That area is already dealing with traffic issues,” said Ms. Norberg. “But Cactus, that already gets backed up and it’s crazy how badly it gets backed up with the school and even more houses that are being built out there where Shadow Ridge [High School] is … are we going to make Cactus a four-lane road with a dedicated left-hand turn lane and a dedicated right-hand turn lane in to this development?”
Surprise Community Development Director Eric Fitzer clarified although Toll Brothers will only be responsible for the south half of Cactus Road, plans are already in place to further expand the thoroughfare.
“The ultimate build-out of Cactus will be a six-lane arterial,” Mr. Fitzer said.
In Phase 7 of the Prasada development, Cactus Road would be extended further west to meet 175th Avenue, according to Mr. Kuhfuss.
Peoria Avenue, Mr. Fitzer explained, would likely later be extended further west as a minor arterial road, depending on results of a development being considered by county officials for a neighboring parcel to the south outside city limits.
The main gate into Prasada enters from Cactus Avenue west of Cotton Lane on the north end of the community. The main internal loop road comprises an inset rectangle rotated nearly a quarter turn and running diagonally within the larger rectangle of the overall parcel.
Pocket parks will be located inside each of the collector road’s right angles, providing gathering places with fire pits, ramadas, community garden planters, water features, seating areas and extensive landscaping. A major water feature will consist of reflecting pools and abundant vegetation.
Mr. Kuhfuss said the community will be especially well planted, looking more like a resort than a suburban neighborhood.
“The project is exceptionally well landscaped,” said Mr. Kuhfuss while pointing out the colorful, curved clusters of planned plantings depicted on a projected diagram. “Sometimes I ask the rhetorical question, when does landscaping become a garden? This to me looks very exceptional … when you look how this is amenitized, it feels to me almost resort-like.”
The golf course will be only the sixth designed by Nicklaus Design in the Phoenix area and only the eighth such course in the state. As the phases progress, the course will eventually expand to 18 holes.
Ms. Norberg asked if the community would be age-restricted – if so, it would be the first such development constructed south of Bell Road in Surprise.
“I’ve heard rumors that this is a retirement community, age restricted,” said Ms. Norberg. “I didn’t read that in the packet at all, so I just want to find out what the thoughts are on that.”
Aaron Insco, director of land development for Toll Brothers, clarified the distinction between an “age-restricted” and an “age-targeted” community, dispelling the rumor.
“We’re still trying to identify which areas will be age-targeted, more so than age-restricted,” said Mr. Insco. “Age-targeted is, I believe, 50 and older. And it’s just that we’re targeting that class or that age group. It’s not necessarily where you’re age-restricted.”
The commission unanimously approved the preliminary plat, moving toward potential final approval by City Council. Consideration by the council is tentatively slated for the panel’s regular meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17 at City Hall.
Mr. Insco said his firm hopes to commence mass grading of the undeveloped parcel by late summer or early fall with the goal of offering the first homes for sale in mid-2020.