|By Donna Hogan, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Apr. 6, 2005 - The California-based development company that bought and plans to makeover La Posada Resort in Paradise Valley is buying neighboring property Mountain Shadows, the 45-year-old shuttered hotel with still-open golf course that has been mired in controversy.
Robert Flaxman, president of Crown Realty & Development, said Tuesday that he has "a definitive purchase agreement" for Mountain Shadows, but he would not say how much he is paying for it.
Crown bought La Posada for nearly $31 million and budgeted $185 million to restore it to a world-class luxury resort.
La Posada is slated to close in May and reopen with a new look and a new name, Montelucia, in late 2006.
The venerable Mountain Shadows closed in September -- with its future uncertain.
Town Council and neighbors want a new or upgraded resort in its place. Mountain Shadows owner Host Marriott wanted to build homes on the property.
Even what's allowed on the 70-acre spread is in dispute. Before it was part of Paradise Valley, the land was zoned residential. The resort was built with a zoning variance and annexed to the town.
Flaxman said he plans to preserve -- and sink money into -- Mountain Shadows' golf course and driving range, raze the existing resort buildings, and build a boutique hotel rather than a large group hotel, with restaurant, retail, spa, pool and other amenities in their place.
He also plans to make room for "a mixture of residential uses -- from full-time to part-time." That option could include townhomes or condos that are single ownership or time-shared -- although he said he dislikes that terminology -- but it would not include large single-family detached villas like those he is building at La Posada.
Contingencies for Crown's purchase include Paradise Valley Town Council's approval of the plans, he said.
"If people can't get on the same page, Mountain Shadows will stay closed for a very long time," he said. "But we don't think that will happen." Flaxman said he has been meeting with neighbors to understand their issues, and he expects to have a concrete proposal within a few months.
Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Ed Winkler said he's pleased the developer is getting neighborhood input before approaching the council with a plan.
"We asked them to work with the people that will be most directly impacted -- the homeowners at Mountain Shadows East and West," he said.
Town Manager Tom Martinsen said he can't comment on Crown's plans until he sees them, but he is confident that if the golf course is saved, and there is a strong resort component, the proposal will win the blessings of neighbors and staff even if there are residential elements as well.
Martinsen said the most important criteria is to have some type of hotel on the property.
"Resorts are our economic basis," he said.
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