Proposed 741 acre Cottonwood resort lacks water

A developer plans to build a resort-style facility with large waterways and other entertainment options on 741 acres in Cottonwood.

Cottonwood City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission heard a presentation for the proposed project at a special joint meeting on September 14, asking for feedback and guidance.

Bruce Barrett, a Utah-based developer for Chromatic Resorts, is investigating an Arizona State Trust property on State Route 260 near the Camino Real, approximately 741 acres of which is within the Cottonwood city limits.

“We’re very interested in Sedona and Cottonwood,” said Barrett. “The area is breathtaking, the tourism in the Verde Valley is extraordinary, very charming, the historic downtown streets in Jerome and Cottonwood, and so on. We are of the opinion that we can bring something here that would be profitable for us, but also incredibly beneficial for the greater Verde Valley area. “

The proposal involves working with the Arizona State Land Department to divide the land into parcels and auction them over time. Rather than developing the land as simple neighborhoods, Barrett wants to use the area to build a resort-style village made up of man-made water recreation areas and residences.

The 741 acres would include roughly 3,700 units, one third of which would be a resort, one third primary residences, including houses, townhouses, and condominiums, and the other third secondary residences that could be used for short term rentals or vacation homes. Barrett also announced that, if approved, it plans to provide affordable housing for those in the $ 60,000 to $ 170,000 income range, as well as employee housing.

All of the development would be supported by either a path or the extensive canal-style waterways that Barrett intends to meander through the resort.

Other potential amenities include public parks and trails, public water recreation and a surf park, a bike pump track, a family entertainment center consisting of a movie theater, restaurants, retail stores and virtual reality experiences, and office space. And if possible, he would like to include an amphitheater, top golf or big shots golf, a culinary institute and a botanical desert garden.

He also wants to include intra-community shuttles and those that run to Cottonwood, Sedona, Jerome, Phoenix and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Barrett envisions building the entire resort in such a way that vehicles are not needed at all.

The entire project would cost approximately $ 2 billion and take between 10 and 20 years to complete.

Barrett said he believed the project would compete with the best resorts in Sedona and bring significant benefits to the Cottonwood community in providing additional tourism, recreational and entertainment options for residents, much-needed housing, and revenue from sales and temporary services from the room tax.

“When we build a resort that says we’re not in Sedona, but we think we’re in a better place than Sedona, where you have more relaxation, more amenities, more options, and you can go to Sedona or two days while you’re here, that’s an economic message that makes sense, ”he said. “We believe we can be successful at this, but to have that message and get it to market and make sense, this resort has to be better than any resort in Sedona…. But we don’t think it will work without something big like the waterway or the surf park. “

Water is a core element of the resort project, and Barrett announced that if he is not allowed to include the surf park and waterways, he will have no interest in building at all.

“The problem for us is that we would like to be in this area, we would like to be on this property, but if we weren’t able to put these water features in we just wouldn’t,” he said.

Barrett said the water features were not designed to use water and the only water loss would be through evaporation and residential and commercial use.

He has also expressed an interest in acquiring water rights for evaporation from the Friends of the Verde River and plans to either collect rainwater or use treated water that he believes would be sufficient for water supply.

“Overall, we are talking about making this development as water-efficient as possible,” he said. “We are aware of the problems with water and what is happening, but people like water features. The people in the community like water features. Visitors like water features. It seems that there is likely a lifestyle and economic justification for providing water features. “

Several council members were not convinced, expressing concerns about the project’s water use and doubts that their generally conservation-minded constituents would be on board.

“We have water. It’s called the River Verde, ”said Councilor Debbie Wilden. “I think the high water consumption, including evaporation, would be a visual and mental thorn in the side in several ways. I can’t imagine the public wanting that. “

Mayor Tim Elinski reiterated their comments, expressing support for many of the proposed amenities and the construction of much-needed housing, but also feared the project would be inconsistent with the community’s values.

“There’s so much about this project that I like and I think this community needs it. Of course we all know that we need living space, there is no doubt about that, ”he said. “We know that tourism is important for our economy, but where I feel friction with development is the use of water. I know that you can always prove that it is not dizzy, especially not as much as golf courses etc., but it just seems to go against the nature conservation culture that we have built up here in the valley. ”

However, several councilors and commissioners fully supported the project, saying they were excited about the opportunity to provide additional jobs, housing and tourism money that the city needs as long as they can reach an agreement on water conservation.

“We have quite a bit of a service industry in this city and we make a living from tourism, so that’s a lot of our jobs,” said Angela Romeo, Commissioner for Planning and Zoning. “I think that’s the kind of project Cottonwood needs; we need more family activities … we need something different from Sedona. And that’s the kind of project that I would be, as long as we have these kinds of water saving techniques, I would absolutely support it. “

Alderman Michael Mathews argued that since Barrett wants to be water management in its development, it would probably be better than any other alternative as the land is likely to inevitably be developed for other uses such as neighborhoods.

“Think about the water consumption that [neighbor­hoods] do, ”he said. “I don’t see that [resort] crowded with apartment buildings, so I think when it comes to water usage, that’s a compromise right there…. I’m a little proud of Cottonwood that you would even consider bringing something like this to us. “

“Personally, I think it’s great,” he added. “This land is being used for something and it probably won’t be a wilderness reserve in the future, so I think it’s good.”

The council also expressed its desire for Barrett to include additional low-income homes in his plans, which he was willing to do.

Overall, the Council and Commission supported Barrett in pursuing the project. After what must have been a lengthy public process. If approved, Barrett’s first plan is to use local builders to build the surf park and residences.

To watch a replay of the meeting, visit Verde Valley TV on YouTube. To ask questions or comment on the project, email the Director of Tourism and Economic Development, Tricia Lewis, at [email protected]

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