Live/Work: Soho Scottsdale prepares  2nd phase of development

Live/Work: Soho Scottsdale prepares 2nd phase of development

By Luke Netzley

Before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the widespread routine of commuting to work, sending tens of millions of employees onto remote schedules, Catclar Investments principal Irene Clary had a dream of building a community that provided a work-life balance.

In 2015, Clary traveled to Downtown Los Angeles and toured the Barker Block apartment complex, an old factory that had been retrofitted and renovated into a series of live/work lofts. She felt inspired to create a new project that balanced work and leisure spaces back home in Arizona, and Soho Scottsdale was born.

“The word ‘Soho’ means ‘small office, home office’ in Chinese,” Clary explains. “We have out-of-the-box kind of developments that incorporate lofts and live/work spaces … a very eclectic mix of development types. You’ll have industrial, you’ll have commercial, you’ll have residential smack dab in the middle. It was all incorporated.”

In the dramatic shadow of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Clary built the first phase of Soho Scottsdale with architects Bing Hu and Fitzgerald Associates by the intersection of the Loop 101 and Bell Road. The development has 18 townhomes and 10 lofts with five retail spaces above an underground parking garage connected by elevators. For the site’s two penthouse units, the elevators travel directly from the garage into the private residence.

“People just loved that concept,” Clary says. “The nice thing about the townhomes is that they have loading doors and they open into your exterior space. … It may be your office on that main level … and we know we have great weather in Arizona. You can put up your door and work with the elements and the flowers and the trees.”

Alongside the warm weather, Clary said that another benefit of the project’s location on North 92nd Street is its proximity to local points of interest as well as the Scottsdale Airport.

“We have everything up here,” Clary explains. “WestWorld is five minutes walking distance to the south. And just to northwest is the TPC, the Phoenix Open, and then all the activities that go on around this North Scottsdale hub. … I think we’re one of the closest communities that can really have a complete view of the mountains, and they’re very beautiful.”

On the property, Soho Scottsdale is dual-zoned for business and residential, allowing residents to run their own businesses from their house. The first phase of the development has already become the home of doctors, engineers, and a hair stylist who runs her salon from the lower level of her townhome.

Clary describes the group of tenants as “eclectic” and one that comes together like its own small-town community. There are 12 townhouse units whose loading doors open into a shared courtyard space, where residents can socialize and host events.

“They’ll do July the 4th weekend; they’ll do Halloween parties,” Clary says. “There’re different things that they will do because the way we’ve created spaces here. And because of the limited number of people, they’re able to really feel like they’re on a cul-de-sac.”

Community members will also come together to enjoy amenities like the fitness and physical therapy studios, a restaurant and tearoom currently being built, and an art studio that gives lessons to children.

“We have a couple of artists that live here,” Clary describes. “We display their art either in the foyers or the other levels in the loft building. It’s just become a very nice niche of people that are here, and they’ve become friends, which is really nice to see.”

Though all the units in Phase I are sold out, Catclar Investments is ready to begin construction on Phase II, which will include a six-story loft building with podium parking and 22 units, including four 6,000-square-foot penthouse suites with views of the McDowell Mountains. There will also be four new three and four-story townhomes, each with the option of adding an elevator between floors, which have already been sold.

In regard to the timeline for Phase II, Clary explained that it will depend on finding the “right general contractor to build,” as the success of any project depends on assembling the right team.

“It is so important when you design a project and you design specifications that you take the time to propose really quality-driven items,” she says. “You want to make sure that your construction team rocks. It is a solid, very knowledgeable team that you assemble to take the project through the process.

“Here’s the most important thing: You have relationships with your subcontractors and have good ones where they’ll take care of you. They’ll take care of your homeowners because you’ve taken the time to build that rapport and that relationship with the people who are actually building it.”

Clary describes the current labor market of general contractors and subcontractors as spread thin by the pandemic and waning economy. She said that because Soho Scottsdale is selling for-sale products that are investments for many tenants, unlike rental properties, it is crucial that even the most minute details are perfect.

“It’s taken me a while to get the next phase off the ground because that surety of the right team and the right approach has to be spot on,” Clary says. “The city of Scottsdale has been wonderful to work with. They are collaborators. They work with us to resolve issues or create an even better product. And it’s nice to have that relationship with a municipality that is responsible for approving your plans and making sure that they get built correctly.”

Looking to the future, Clary is excited for the completion of Phase II and the start of Phase III, which will bring in several new amenity spaces. She expressed hope that the project will be seen as a source of pride and that it will leave a lasting imprint on North Scottsdale.

“We’re looking at getting even more people to come here,” Clary says. “It was a project that was out of the box, very new thinking in the state of Arizona. … It’s important that when you put your name to a product, you’re proud of it, and you want to make sure that it withstands the test of time.”

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