Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 28, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

The Genographic Project


  • Get an unprecedented picture of the human family tree, with the help of DNA testing.
Guests:
  • Jason Morris - zoning attorney for the Trump organization


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," a Phoenix development involving Donald Trump approved last week but opponents say they plan to continue their fight. And we'll tell you about a joint U of A National Geographic program designed to provide a picture of the human family through DNA testing.

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you!

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. A divided city council approved a new development for the area near Camelback and 24th Street last week amidst lots of protests. Opponents of the Trump-Bayrock development say the fight is not over. We will talk to an opponent and a supporter of the project but first Mike Sauceda tells us more about it.

>> Mike Sauceda:
This is where a giant guitar used to sit when this building was the Hard Rock Cafe. Soon the buildings here at the southeast corner of 26th Street and Camelback will be replaced by a 140-foot-high, $200 million condo and hotel development. The developers Donald Trump and Bayrock Group wanted to build to 150 feet, but the Phoenix City Council by a 5-4 decision approved a slightly lower height limit but well above the original 56-foot limit. That vote also made zoning changes to allow Westcor, a mall development company, to put up 140-foot towers at The Biltmore Fashion Park. The vote drew lots of angry responses from some people living directly behind where the building would be located. Along the streets in that neighborhood you can see signs supporting the Trump development and signs against it. Opinion on the street near the proposed development also varied.

>> John Brigham:
I think it's great. I think it's great for as far as the business, bringing in new high-end type of users and clientele. I think it stinks for the people on the other side of the wall, but as far as business I think it's nice. We'll get some new activity in here.

>> Robert Barton:
I think it's a great idea that someone of Trump's caliber has come to this town, any developer and it will be good for our economy. And generally speaking. But I don't like the idea of him or anyone else getting his way and changing the ordinances. If you look around here, anywhere you're standing, in fact where I'm standing right now, I can see mountains facing north, I can see mountains facing east. If we were a little higher up you would see them on the south side. We have all these beautiful preserves but as soon as you start building high-rises you have interrupted, changed the skyline for the whole city from any point. Most the city is flat, we're in a Valley. But as long as you have reasonable height ordinances, everybody gets to enjoy that view.

>> Mike Sauceda:
Now that the council has approved the project, opponents are planning to refer the decision to the ballot and also run an initiative that would deal with height ordinances for the entire city.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to talk about the Trump-Bayrock development is Jason Morris, a zoning attorney for the Trump organization. Also here is Jeff Fine, a neighborhood activist who opposes the development. Gentlemen, good to see you both.

>> Jason Morris:
Nice to be here.

>> Jeff Fine:
Good evening.

>> Michael Grant:
Jason, I first want to set the stage a little bit more for what we're talking about. I think we have a couple of pictures that we can throw up on the screen. I'm just advised now we don't. But this will be a mix of condominium units and hotel? Have I got that right?

>> Jason Morris:
It's both a luxury hotel and a residential condominium project.

>> Michael Grant:
And it's on the southeast corner of 26th Street and Camelback?

>> Jason Morris:
That's correct. The former Hard Rock Cafe site but it's actually the entire commercial site. It's roughly 5 acres.

>> Michael Grant:
How much of a mix between the hotel component and the residential component?

>> Jason Morris:
About half and half. Obviously we're now back to the drawing board with the actual design because, as you know, or as was noted, the city council didn't approve what we had actually requested originally. So there's some amount of playing with the plans, designs and at the same time we will be working with the neighborhood to see what their input will be at this stage.

>> Michael Grant:
Okay. The developer had originally asked for 190 feet, if memory serves. Approved for 140 after some extensive redesign. Why is 140 feet, southeast corner of 26th Street and Camelback, a good idea?

>> Jason Morris:
Well, first of all, going back to the original request of 190 feet, the idea, much like the Esplanade before it, was to try and create some taller, thinner buildings to actually open up view corridors. The idea being that, like with the Esplanade, you had originally a much higher request that was brought down in height and you had shorter, squatter buildings. As a result of that, we tried to go back to the original intent, to have some taller, thinner buildings, or a taller thinner building at that location. Now 140 feet, why is that a good idea? It really is about the entire City of Phoenix, the entire core area, not just about this one particular parcel. You have to take into account what a building of that size and that prominence will do to support the retail. Immediately across the street. That is Phoenix's premier retail, the Biltmore Fashion Park. Westcor has done a fantastic job with it, but if we want to keep the Guccis and Cartiers and other tenants in customers it's good to build on your strengths.

>> Michael Grant:
Jeff, let's pull you into the discussion. Why is 140 feet at 26th Street and Camelback a bad idea?

>> Jeff Fine:
Well, to begin with, first of all, that site is zoned or entitled for only 56 feet as part of a community zoning overlay plan that was put in place a number of years ago as a contract, if you will, or compact, between residential neighbors, the City of Phoenix and the development community. There is an area from approximately 24th Street to the freeway that is designated for mid rise development. That area has substantial opportunity for continuing development, and it is not yet fully built out. So it's a matter of respecting and honoring a plan that our city, our community, created and trying to bring the vision of that plan into fruition.

>> Michael Grant:
I want to cycle back to some of those points. But other neighborhood concerns, we've covered the fact that, well, hold it, we landed on a plan 15 years ago and you're blowing through it. Are there other concerns about traffic, view blockage, those kinds of things?

>> Jeff Fine:
There are perhaps as many concerns as there are residents in the area. Yes, view blockage is someone's concern. Traffic is someone's concern. They all are important issues, as a matter of fact because they impact on the quality of life. They impact upon the sense of privacy and/or lifestyle that the mix of residential, retail and commercial office enjoys in that area. Traffic, Camelback, is an extremely busy street, 70\% of the traffic runs right through the neighborhood and doesn't stop. But there is a certain concern that additional development is going to bring more traffic, and while we welcome that development, the hope was that residential development would take place in the core between 24th Street and the freeway, in essence perhaps supplant office development which causes a lot more traffic.

>> Michael Grant:
Jason, let's take these points one by one. What about the argument, hold it, we faced this 15 years ago, and many of us who have been here for a long time certainly remember the Fife Symington Esplanade debate. That was pretty bloody at the time, and you tried to set in place a plan. You tried to draw some lines. Now this development comes along and says, nope, we're going to do away with all that.

>> Jason Morris:
It's a great point. But there are a few things you need to take into account. First of all, what we're focusing, and there has been a tremendous amount of focus on this site because of the name behind the development, the reality is the entire plan was reviewed. So this included Westcor's site this, included other sites that got additional entitlements. It wasn't just about our site and the Trump-Bayrock project. The second part is something you mentioned. It's a 15-year-old plan, and I grew up here. This is my neighborhood. Not only where I live, but my office is a stone's throw from here. I recognize all the changes that have occurred in the last 15 years. No land use document is a sacred treaty. What occurs with a land use document it recognizes what's occurring -- what's happening in land use for the next three, five years at the maximum.

>> Michael Grant:
But Jason, what really has changed, though? The Esplanade went up. It's got mostly office. Some retail associated with it. The Biltmore shopping center is still sitting there. Those are all constants in the mix. What I understand -- I understand time has passed, but what has changed?

>> Jason Morris:
What has changed is really twofold. One, the City of Phoenix is not an island that now controls everything within their own destiny. The destiny of the City of Phoenix is also in the hands of other municipalities, which are competing, actively, for jobs, for the retail, for the housing. So that's one part of this equation that's occurred. When the original Camelback East plan came into account, it really wasn't a threat to the Westcor Biltmore fashion park that was at hand. Right now we are seeing, Glendale is very active with their retail. You're looking at the City of Scottsdale, Tempe. Tempe --

>> Michael Grant:
North Scottsdale Kierland, fashion square -- it's a point that's made, Jeff, that if you don't change the plan from time to time, the plan doesn't remain a good compact. It becomes a ball and chain because it's become outdated. There's a lot of people who advance the theory that the Biltmore shopping center cannot survive without more foot traffic.

>> Jeff Fine:
I understand that point. As a matter of fact, there is some truth in what Jason says with regard to competing interests outside of Phoenix. But the truth and the reality of the matter is that the Mayor, and a lot of city officials and other interested parties, have come forth with a revitalization plan for downtown. That vision, as a matter of fact, is going to create an environment, if it carries through, in which the City of Phoenix will not only compete with its surrounding areas, but it will compete within the southwest region. It will be responsive to what is appropriate for a size -- city the size of Phoenix. But more directly to your question about why not change the plan? Quite frankly, the plan, as it exists right now, is for a community, a mixed community. That community has not yet been fully developed, and so expanding the plan's boundaries or entitling additional development outside of that in essence breaks the plan and creates a less than desirable environment in which to live.

>> Michael Grant:
Jason, it's a good point, as I understand at least some of the opposition feeling, and I think it's Jeff's, you move this thing three blocks east on the south side of Camelback to the vicinity of town & country, incidentally you'd be in the same immediate vicinity doing some of the things that I think you're talking about, allowing Phoenix better to compete than perhaps was envisioned in 1990, we're okay with that. Just don't keep Marching down Camelback toward 44th Street and maybe ultimately Scottsdale Road.

>> Jason Morris:
Which is why -- the first thing I did when I was retained as the attorney for this project was actually to sit down with Jeff. I think Jeff and I recall sitting down, and I said, I know this is going to be an issue, and I know this is going to be a concern but I would like to work with you, and that's the approach we've taken. One of the things that's been overlooked is that this wasn't the neighborhood against the developer. We have at least half of the neighborhood saying, "we want this, this is exactly the type of redevelopment we're looking for." I think we delivered 10,000 signatures to city hall, which played a large role in what happened at city council. But directly to your question about, why not move it west? Town & Country is west of us. That's between the freeway and 24th Street. There was actually just as much controversy over a project that was proposed on the west side of 24th Street, it was actually on the north side, on an adjacent building that's, I believe, an office building now, where they were asking for additional height, and there was so much controversy, and the village recommended denial of that, that that was ultimately withdrawn. It did not even get to the council level. Our site on the old Hard Rock Cafe property is 5 acres, and it is at the terminus of the existing pedestrian spine. So that part of the plan wasn't changed. The plan boundary haven't changed. It's just recognizing you have a 5-acre practically vacant center in one of the most vital areas. Why not take advantage of this 5-acre parcel and make it a benefit for the entire community?

>> Michael Grant:
Jeff, you did have some pretty good fire power there, if you count the Hard Rock Cafe as fire power -- actually, it did burn there in its little sign for quite some -- you know, have you got a distressed parcel here that justifies doing something different with?

>> Jeff Fine:
No -- well, let me say, it is vacant. That is true. The element that has created that is a partner with Bayrock and Trump. They put that property through, apparently, poor management into a bankruptcy environment, and it's out that environment that now they are trying to bring this property about. But that's not an issue. That property, I honestly believe s viable and could be occupied exactly as it is now if anybody had even tried to rent that space within the last three years. But the other issue is quite frankly, and very important, the developers have not faced opposition from us from the standpoint of an opposition to growth. We've merely, as a residential interest, have tried to ask that they honor the plan that does exist and not change it. The one developer that Jason made reference to, Optima, who did propose for a moment another site that he would like to develop, reconsidered his situation. Not because of the opposition, but because as a responsible developer he realized it was sited in the wrong place, and so he has, in fact, withdrawn his proposal.

>> Jason Morris:
I think it was the neighborhood that helped him understand that.

>> Michael Grant:
Jeff, I guess one of the -- I mean, all of us like plans, and certainly see the merit and value in plans, but over time -- back in the '50s, '60s, what would be really cool would be to put retail all up and down major streets and then you would concentrate the residential sections inside, and after a while we said, boy, that really doesn't work. I mean, aren't -- almost stepping away from this particular project because I understand your objections to it, but don't sometimes you have to change plans as cities change?

>> Jeff Fine:
Plans should be modified and adjusted to accommodate growth, but unfortunately, the City of Phoenix has a rather interesting history. Up until now its growth, its expansion has been based upon development within the real estate community. And while that wasn't wrong, we've come to a point in time in which that development has to be substituted -- its benefit to the economy -- by something else, whether it is T-GEN and the revitalization that's proposed for downtown, ASU, what have you. The point is, plans in the past were attacked by developers' interests, and that's not wrong. There's nothing wrong to the profit of development, but unfortunately politicians of past years have frequently deviated from good planning and the plans they established. Every once in a while the citizenry has reminded them with initiatives. Saving the mountain preserve was one such initiative. There have been others in our history.

>> Michael Grant:
Jason, that is the flip side of that argument, that is that citizens look at an area, they buy property in an area, they take a plan as a commitment, as it really should be and say, okay, this is the kind of neighborhood I want to live in for a variety of different reasons, and then when you change that compact, when you change that plan, citizenry, I think, understandably says, hey, foul!

>> Jason Morris:
I understand that. That's very true. But what we also saw, and really one of the places that our support came from, were from the neighbors who live closest to this building who moved to the corner of 24th and Camelback so that they could be part of what they saw as an urban lifestyle. In fact, they told us point-blank, we moved here because we like being able to walk to the movie theater, grab a bite to eat, have a drink, go home, never having to see our car. So they really saw our building as an extension of that lifestyle, the lifestyle they moved there for. I think where we saw the division was there were certainly other residents who had moved there in the previous decades who didn't have --

>> Michael Grant:
For different reasons. Jason Morris, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate the input. Jeff Fine, good to see you.

>> Jason Morris:
My pleasure.

>> Jeff Fine:
Thank you very much for having me.

>> Michael Grant:
Best of luck, gentlemen to both of you.

>> Michael Grant:
In the spring the University of Arizona launched the genographic project, along with National Geographic and IBM. That's going to provide an unprecedented picture of the human family tree through DNA testing. Producer Pam White says that project is already in full swing.

>> The thing that immediately hit me about it was that it attempted to answer one of the two great questions that humanity has always had. They've had, "why are we here and where did we come from?"

>> Reporter:
You may have your mother's smile or your father's hair, but why do you look the way you do? How do we explain the incredible diversity of people from around the Globe? How did your ancestors find their way to the place where you live today?

>> Pam White:
It's a landmark study of the human journey. Last spring National Geographic, IBM and the U of A launched The Genographic Project, a project designed to trace the migration of human beings. Genetic analysis can already trace ourselves back to a common ancestor in Africa 60,000 years ago.

>> Judy Singer:
Look how high up there they went, Scandinavian --

>> Pam White:
The public has been asked to participate, and Stu and Judy Singer did just that. First, you have to access the web site, and for $99.95 you can buy a test kit and collect your own DNA sample.

>> Matt Kaplan:
And then you've got enough cells on this brush to then put it into your testing tube, and with a little plunger here, the head of the brush pops off, the stick you can throw away, and then you put this one -- a few hours later you do the next one, and you're able to mail that back in the self-addressed envelope and there you go. Then it comes to us in the laboratory. We do all your genetic testing.

>> Pam White:
Matt Kaplan is the U of A's genographic project manager. He and team members at the U of A's research laboratories are extracting and mapping thousands of DNA samples coming in from around the world. When they arrive, they're transferred into these well blocks for DNA isolation.

>> Matt Kaplan:
From our point of view in the lab, we're certainly seeing a lot more genetic diversity in the public participation kits than we thought we would see. It's been -- that's been a really pleasant surprise.

>> Pam White:
Since the project began, Kaplan says there has been a great response and more than 30,000 DNA samples have been processed here.

>> Matt Kaplan:
I mean, this is science for you about you.

>> Pam White:
The U of A was asked to join the project because of their one-of-a-kind program to trace family lineage called family tree DNA. Its creator, Dr. Michael hammer, of the U of A's genomic analysis and core testing lab.

>> Matt Kaplan:
Dr. Hammer has been a major force in the Y chromosome and human evolutionary fields for -- since the early '90s, and so with Dr. Hammer's reputation and family tree's success as actually providing personalized services to the general public, it just seemed like a match made in heaven.

>> Judy Singer:
First I have to log in. So I put in my code.

>> Pam White:
Test results are anonymous. But each kit has a number inside, which the participant uses to log onto the site to track their DNA sample.

>> Judy Singer:
Then it comes up with a description of my DNA. And the actual markers that make me different or the same than other people. Then you can go to your root map, and it shows that my ancestors started out in Africa, like everyone else, and migrated north through the east, up into Asia, all the way across Europe into northwestern Europe and then came back down to northern Italy.

>> Pam White:
Male lineage is traced through the Y chromosome and the female line through what's called mitochondrial DNA.

>> Matt Kaplan:
We can tell you by looking at the mutations on your Y chromosome or mitochondrial which path you took.

>> Stu Singer:
I'm just going to show you my path, which is quite different than Judy's in terms of migration out of Africa. My path of my ancestors again started out in Africa, but there's a lot of data points in the Middle East, and obviously spent a lot of time there, then when it got up to Europe, it made a left-hand turn and ended up in southern Europe in, apparently, 120,000 years ago or so, or, sorry, 20,000 years ago we were living in caves in Greece.

>> Pam White:
Stu and Judy are participating in the public part of the project, but another aspect of the research is to collect DNA from indigenous people to determine where groups of people come from, why they migrated, where they ended up, and what happened to them genetically along the way.

>> Matt Kaplan:
And in one more generation, people won't be from anywhere. They'll be from cosmopolitan cities. This is our last chance to actually go out to people who are living where they've been living for thousands of years, and this is our last chance to get that signal of our deep ancestry. Where did our ancestors disperse around the world? That's why this is important to do right now.

>> Pam White:
Samples from 10,000 native people from 10 regional sites around the world will be tested.

>> Matt Kaplan:
IBM and National Geographic have both agreed that they won't be patenting any of the findings out of this research, and that all of the data will reside in a publicly accessible database.

>> Pam White:
When the five-year, $40 million project is completed, it will be the largest database in the world of DNA.

>> Matt Kaplan:
And our goal is to keep this information, what the public are seeing, as current and up to the minute with the science as it changes over the next five years.

>> Judy Singer:
Your ancestors really didn't go very far.

>> Pam White:
While it will answer some of the most important questions of mankind, it's also scientific proof of our connection with one another.

>> Stu Singer:
I think it really focuses you on the fact that everyone is related. I mean, of course, we knew it, but this is sort of the proof. This is the final proof of the thing.

>> Judy Singer:
We've always had so many problems, infighting and territorial problems, and it just helps to know that everyone -- everyone's a cousin.

>> Michael Grant:
To see transcripts of "Horizon," find out about other topics, visit the web site. It's at www.azpbs.org.

>> Mike Sauceda:
The Medal of Honor Society is holding its annual meeting in Phoenix with 75 of the 121 living recipients attending the event. One of those is Phoenix resident Silvestre Herrera. Herrera received his medal after taking out a machine gun nest even after having both feet blown off by land mines. Learn about his heroics and the convention Thursday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents