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Thu, Feb. 20

Cultural Park amphitheater set to become a part of history

Tod Christensen of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty stands in the Georgia Frontiere Performing Arts Pavilion at the Cultural Park in Sedona last week. The ampitheater is set to be torn out. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Tod Christensen of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty stands in the Georgia Frontiere Performing Arts Pavilion at the Cultural Park in Sedona last week. The ampitheater is set to be torn out. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

SEDONA — The 5,500-seat concert amphitheater at the Sedona Cultural Park, which sits on the largest piece of developable land in Sedona, will be demolished for scrap once the 41-acre, $19.9 million property is sold and developed, according to its broker.

“It’s sad to see the Sedona Cultural Park go,” explained Tod Christensen of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Sedona. But the “plus-side is it (the property) could turn into a real showcase for Sedona.”

The developers and the City of Sedona have come up with a master development plan for the property next to Yavapai College’s Sedona Campus and across State Route 89A from Red Rock High School, explained Christensen. The plan “would allow for multi-family, lodging, and retail all in conjunction.”

”It hasn’t been usable for years and years,” Christensen said of the concert venue that premiered in 2000 with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra on its opening night. It followed with acts such as Willie Nelson, B.B.King, Blues Traveler, Little Feat, Vince Gill and even a packed house for Norah Jones, but the venue closed just three years after it had opened.

The concert venue was called the Georgia Frontiere Performing Arts Pavilion, named after a woman who was a former resident of Cornville and onetime owner of the Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams. She was a philanthropist, donating $1 million to help build the amphitheater.

“There’s nothing salvageable down there,” he said pointing to the venue which is overgrown with weeds and some graffiti art. “At best, there’s some scraps that could be had.” He said the concert venue would be gone by the time the new development is far along.

“It didn’t work the first time when land costs were low,” he said.” “It would be great. I would love it. Everybody I know would love it. But it just doesn’t work.”

He said it’s not a “ton of infrastructure.” Largely a stage and tiered concrete areas for seating, and it won’t be hard to remove.

The property is now owned by a group of investors, Christensen said. The two primary people are Michael Tennyson and Pat Tlustos, Christensen said.

At one time the investors considered developing the property themselves. Christensen said, but now they are selling the whole property.

Someone can develop the multi-family homes and another developer can do the retail and another can develop lodging or luxury resort, he pointed out, similar to the Marriott across State Route 89A.

No matter what anyone wants to do with the property, it will require a rezone and permits from the City of the Sedona.

Christensen estimated development and infrastructure costs at about $250,000 for the $19.9 million property. “That’s not your typical investment.”

There is also a $1.75 million building and smaller lot for sale adjacent to the property, but that is being offered separate from the 41-acre parcel, he said

Tennyson will stay on as a master developer for the project, Christensen said. Which will help expedite construction, since he has been working with the city.

“However that will be a relatively quick process as long as the people stay within the master concept of the original plan by the city,” Christensen said.”

And certainly, if there are condos or townhouses, some will be upscale, but some will address Sedona’s need for housing for its workforce, he added.

“Hopefully it would provide housing to the workforce,” he said, depending on the multi-family housing that is built. The city is always looking at affordable housing opportunities.

Christensen said it won’t be like the withdrawn Rojo Grande proposal, which was met by massive opposition by Sedona residents. He said this is a different kind of development.

Rojo Grande was a manufactured housing and RV plan, he continued, and “this will be an upper-end type of development,” he said.

The city has agreed that this plan makes sense and they are on board, he added.

However, Christensen said it would be impossible to know exactly how many multi-family units would be proposed until the property is purchased and the plan is presented to the Sedona Council, he said. There are restrictions, he added.

“A lot depends on how the whole master plan comes together,” Christensen said. In a multi-family situation, there could be condominiums, duplexes, four-plexes or apartments.

A lot of the density will be viewed at making it affordable, “at least as affordable as you can by Sedona standards,” he said.

Christensen said they are selling the whole property, but someone can develop the multi-family homes and another developer can do the retail and another can develop the lodging.

Christensen said inquiries can be directed to himself, and Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty agents Ed Pennnigton and Jeannette Sauer at 928-282-5966 or tod.christensen@russlyon.com.

One aspect that makes the project exciting is the transportation hub, where cars from Cottonwood and other areas can park, and trolleys take the passengers further into Sedona, the broker said.

“All the hard work as far as the planning, and the work with the city, that’s all done,” Christensen said.

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