[Source: Andrew Conlin, Special for The Republic] — For nearly two decades, we’ve heard confident predictions that downtown Phoenix was on the brink of a crucial “tipping point,” when public investment would no longer be needed to generate new development that was both vigorous and self-sustaining. A term like “tipping point” is a kind of mental shorthand, useful in summarizing complex ideas but sometimes misleading when it comes to making decisions or drawing conclusions.
In reality, we won’t see the beginning of a significant shift from public to private investment until downtown achieves the requisite critical mass. This will be the moment when the collective energy generated by the diverse collection of downtown businesses, retailers, residences, entertainment venues, and academic and cultural institutions fuses into the nucleus of an energetic and growing community. Private investors will be drawn to this energy, creating new businesses and helping to further enrich the downtown scene. This will inspire more people to live and work here, generating new opportunities that will draw new investors. This development “chain reaction” will, we hope, be self-sustaining and transformational. [Note: To read the full opinion piece and comments, click here.]