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PARADISE VALLEY, AZ-After a seven-month delay, voters have weighed in on the $1.5-billion Ritz-Carlton development, approving the project by a two-to-one margin. Now, the developers are readying for an early December groundbreaking and a 2010 completion.

The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley is a 123-acre, mixed-use development that will straddle Scottsdale and Paradise Valley near Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road. It is being done in a joint venture with Chevy Chase, MD-based Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC and Five Star Development Group Inc. of Scottsdale.

The residential component, planned for the Paradise Valley side, calls for 161 residences and 225-room Ritz-Carlton resort hotel as the centerpiece. The Scottsdale land is dedicated to commercial development. The project is being designed by Peterson Architecture & Associates LLC of Scottsdale. A general contractor hasn’t been selected.

Last April, Paradise Valley Town Council approved a special-use permit for the project, but a citizens group–Preserve Our Paradise–was unhappy with the residential side and collected enough signatures to force a public vote in Tuesday’s election. Proposition 411 was the first time a Ritz-Carlton development faced a referendum, passing with 4,371 of 6,537 votes.

Jerry Ayoub, president and CEO for Five Star Development, acknowledges the wait was frustrating because residential sales could not proceed until the vote was held. “We could work on the residential design,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We got feedback from our customers during that period so we could tweak the product. It’s a better product as a result.” Another plus as a result of the wait is construction costs are lower than even a few months ago.

Ayoub says he was grateful Proposition 411 ended up on the same ballot as the general election. “That helped the cause because a large turnout, a higher turnout, ended up being better for us,” he says.

The high voter turnout also will benefit future developers, Ayoub adds. The citizens group needed just 371 signatures to get the proposition on the ballot. “Because more people turned out for this election than normally would, more signatures will be required the next time if another development has to go through this process,” he says.

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