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Local Government: Gateway District Transit Development

A transit oriented development meeting for the Gateway District was held on Thursday evening in the District Boardroom of the Wilson School District Office.

Gateway is one of five urban districts, which was created by Reinvent Phoenix, a partnership of the city of Phoenix, Arizona State University, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, and a number of other organizations, which focuses on the positive development of areas around the Valley Metro Light Rail.

“We’re approaching the finish line of the draft plan,” said Curt Upton, Project Manager of Reinvent Phoenix. “There are four chapters of it. Last week, we walked through the sections of the latter two chapters; the vision that has the master plan in it and the implementation strategies are in there.”

The Gateway Transit Oriented Development District Steering Committee members met to discuss the semantics of the Gateway District plan draft, which outlines the district’s land development.

According to a 2013 assessment by Arizona State University, the Gateway district is the easternmost district of Reinvent Phoenix’s five light rail corridors, located just north of Sky Harbor International Airport.

This area of roughly 2,500 acres, in 2010, was home to 13,000 individuals, half of whom were under the age of 25. Yet, according to the appraisal by ASU, almost 13 percent of the Gateway zone is vacant.

Maintaining affordable housing and industrial property is a key objective of Reinvent Phoenix’s plan, according to their website; this task was discussed at the committee’s meeting, while considering the desire to enhance neighborhood amenities and the community’s quality of life.

While discussing a new zoning code developed within the committee, small business owner and committee member, Craig Steblay pointed out properties on a color-coded map of the Gateway district he anticipated would be in disagreement.

“This map does not correspond with the existing property rates,” said Steblay, drawing circles on the map for his fellow board members. “I know for a fact that it doesn’t. I’ve been here for 30 years.”

Upton reassured the committee that the map and zoning code were merely drafts, to be considered more as guidelines than definite restrictions.

“This plan and the council action is not rezoning property,” said Upton. “I just want to make that clear. The council action is saying that this is a guideline for rezoning property.”

Upton reiterated that before any plans could be finalized, the Village Planning Committee, the Planning Commission, the City Council subcommittee and the full City Council would need to make their approval.

Mary Moore, vice-chair of the Gateway Steering Committee and Lindon Park Neighborhood Association President, inquired after what the master plan would consist of and its title after finalization.

“One of the things that I thought would be really helpful for this is a glossary,” said Moore. “Define all of these terms in one place so we can refer back to it.

Noting the suggestion in agreement, the Gateway Transit Oriented Development District Steering Committee members wrapped up their second-to-last meeting with the task of making final edits to the language of their proposals.

“Feel free to share if you have other mark-ups,” said Upton. “We’ve had committee members go through and make corrections and that’s fine. There’s a number of edits—grammar and clerical issues—in the document, but we don’t need to convene the Steering Committee again to correct inaccuracies. We’d only need to convene once more if there’s a change in policy language or a major change in maps.”

The final meeting, to be held on Tuesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. in the Wilson School District Office will be open to the public.

“We will see if we can get maximum attendants on the last steering committee date, said Upton. “Our goal is to meet with the full council in December.”

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