The Arizona Republic
Sept. 25, 2007 06:31 AM
Only at the Montelucia Resort, Spa & Residences, an InterContinental Resort in Paradise Valley, would visitors be chauffeured in luxury to the project’s construction site in a Mercedes Benz SUV. Developer Robert Flaxman is sparing no expense when it comes to the high-end project rising southeast of Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard.
That includes a comfortable ride to check out the progress of construction. The $260 million project is a controversial one. It has fueled a continuing debate about resort redevelopment and whether the inclusion of smaller resort residential units is good or bad for a town that cherishes its 1-acre residential zoning.Many residents question Montelucia’s density, from its architectural design to the height and spacing of its buildings, especially the project’s 34 luxury resort villas, which line the Tatum/Lincoln corner.
Montelucia has become the example by which all other town resort projects are now being judged. And that scrutiny has slowed down approval of such projects as the redevelopment of the Mountain Shadows Resort and the proposed construction of a new Ritz-Carlton.
Town leaders are taking their time so as not to avoid the mistakes made with the approval of Montelucia.
Flaxman, president and chief executive officer of Crown Realty & Development Corp., urges residents and town leaders to be patient as Montelucia moves forward, likening its early construction stages to a gawky teenager waiting to blossom.
Rick Carpinelli, Crown’s senior vice president of development, echoes those sentiments and promises a beautiful project.
“We’ve spent hours working with our design consultants so we have the benefit of knowing all the details,” Carpinelli said.Developer: Tour reactions good In April, Crown invited residents to tour the construction site. The reaction was favorable, Carpinelli said.“We’re really getting some very positive feedback on the appearance of the resort. We haven’t had the opportunity to bring many people back into the resort portion of it. We’re going to be doing tours again this fall in November,” he said.
Eight of the 34 villas remain unsold. One of them will open as a model home in late October so potential buyers can see the finished product. The villas are priced in the low $2 millions.The various exterior finishes for the villas are taking shape right down to the colorful hand-painted Spanish tile on the walls.
“The level of finish and detail that the villas have surpasses any of the new construction that is out there available. People will be impressed,” Carpinelli said.Site of former La Posada Resort Montelucia is being built on the site of the former La Posada Resort, 4949 E. Lincoln.Demolition began in January 2006. Construction of the foundation for the resort lodge building started in March 2006, and the first residential villa began taking shape in June 2006.
Vratsinas Construction Co. is the resort contractor, while Rowland Companies is building the guest rooms, and Rowland Luxury Homes is responsible for the resort villas, Carpinelli said.
The project’s completion is set for spring 2008. A grand opening date has not been announced, although Montelucia is already taking bookings.
Trees from Mountain Shadows In addition to the building construction, landscaping is going in along the resort’s perimeter. Some of the larger trees were transplanted from Crown’s other resort property – Mountain Shadows at 56th Street and Lincoln.Carpinelli rattled off some of the plants being used such as olive, ironwood, paloverde, ocotillo, saguaro, and low-lying shrubs. Six hundred fifty trees, including mature palm trees, are being salvaged and transplanted on the site. Another 500 trees on site have been left in place, while hundreds of new trees are being brought in and planted, he said.
Crown also is making offsite improvements, including adding a turning lane from Tatum and a de-acceleration lane on Lincoln to enter the property.
Carpinelli tours the site nearly everyday to check on construction and is amazed at the pace of the work.
“Everyday it changes out here. Everyday, I’m out here and I’m trying to find out how to walk around and how to get somewhere,” he said.