There’s a major new development coming to Maryvale, the West Phoenix village. On Wednesday night, the Maryvale Village Planning Committee voted 9-1 to recommend approval of a zoning variance that will allow the Minnesota-based apartment developer Dominium to build nearly 600 units near Desert Sky Mall northeast of 79th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard.

While the area is currently known for its established shopping center and the abundance of shops that compliment its surroundings, the area is now in the process of being considered for the rezoning from its current state to becoming a multifamily residential and senior living community.

There is no name yet for the project, which is referred to as the 79th Avenue and Encanto PUD, a reference to the variance which will change zoning on the 28.26-acre site from Intermediate Commercial (C-2) to Planned Unit Development or (PUD). 

With the approval of this request, Dominium will move forward with its plans to build and manage affordable housing. These homes will be under their ownership for at least 15 years, 30 years being the most.

“I can assure you we build high quality. We’re long term, we’re going to be here for this and stand behind it. We’re doing this all over the country and we’re really excited to have the opportunity to do it here in Maryvale,” said Owen Metz, Vice President and Project Partner.

The project overview Metz and his team provided showed that there would be 372 family oriented units and 204 senior living units, both within gated communities and amenities provided. The family oriented units will offer one, two, and three bedroom options priced, at the most, at $876, $1,051, and $1,214 respectively. The household income limits are also determined by affordable housing standards, an example being an income of $50,460 for a four person household.

The project will also be in consideration of the long term Maryvale Village Core Plan, according to Susan Demmitt, Land Use Attorney and Legal Representative of the project. The plan intends that a light rail will be put into place along 79th Avenue. While there are no current updates on the light rail project, this rezoning request conforms to the future of the Maryvale infrastructure.

The project has received support from the Arizona Housing Coalition, Macerich (the owner of Desert Sky Mall), and the City of Phoenix Housing Department. The project has not received any community feedback after several community outreach efforts, therefore there is “no neighborhood opposition,” according to Demmitt.

The majority of the Maryvale Planning Committee voted to recommend the approval of this project, the results being in nine yeses and one no. The one, Viridiana Hernandez, vice chair of the committee, looks forward to this type of development opportunity. But, being that it is potentially a “thirty year commitment,” still has some concerns regarding the lack of community feedback and traffic assessments that have yet to be done.

“I thank you guys for the great work,” Hernandez said to the Dominium team. “But at the same time, let’s do this right, so that the standards after you all are high. So how do we set standards that are what our communities deserve for future developments in what ends up being the core plan? So that’s how I look at this.”

On the other hand, other members of the committee showed their full agreement with the project, stipulations included. For those that did have more to say than just their vote of approval, their words of appraisal of the project were very similar to those of committee member Ken Dubose.

“We in Maryvale have been asking for a project like this for a long time. I think the development and narrative is very well put together, and we should embrace this and appreciate that finally we have some affordable housing and senior living coming in. This is what we’ve been asking for,” said Dubose.

Maryvale Planning Committee will return to the discussion and consideration of this request on March 4 for a final vote to approve the variance.