Daily Archives: December 2, 2008

Metro Phoenix cities try to cope with shortfalls in sales taxes, blight left by shut stores

[Source: Erin Zlomek, Arizona Republic] — As big-box retailers like Circuit City and Mervyn’s shut down stores amid a troubled economy, Arizona cities are preparing for the aftermath: falling sales-tax revenues and an onslaught of vacant storefronts.  By early next year, experts expect that close to 2 million square feet of retail space, about twice the size of an indoor shopping mall like Arizona Mills or Arrowhead Towne Center, will have been vacated in Maricopa County as a result of the economic downturn.  By late next year, more than 75 stores are expected to close, resulting in a loss of nearly 2,000 Arizona retail jobs.

The turnover likely will offer shoppers bargains at various going-out-of-business sales and could eventually inspire an influx of newer, trendier stores.  But the closures also have city officials scrambling to cover revenue shortfalls and deter commercial blight.  Arizona is affected by the retail bloodletting more so than other states.  It has a growth-based economy, and the state’s general fund relies heavily on sales-tax revenue.  “The closure of so many big boxes does have an immediate adverse affect,” said Dennis Kavanaugh, a Mesa councilman.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix Mayor and Council urge shoppers to spend at home

[Source: Colton Shone, KTAR] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has declared next week “Buy Local Week” in an effort to jump-start the economy.  Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona, hopes the mayor’s action will get people to shop at mom and pop stores to help them get through the current recession.  “For every $100 you spend in a local business, roughly $42 recirculates in that community,” Lanning said.  “For the same $100 spent in a national chain, only $13 stays.”

[The mayor’s declaration was made at a press conference this morning at the Central and Washington Light Rail Stop in downtown Phoenix.  Joining the Mayor were Members of Council Michael Johnson, Michael Nowakowski, Tom Simplot, and Greg Stanton (all of whom purchased something from a locally-owned business before attending the event).  Nearly 100 local business owners and interested citizens also were in attendance.]

Lanning said local shops often spend for local services.  “The local businesses tend to have local accountants, local attorneys, local sign makers.  All those things are outsourced by national chains.”  She added, “There was a new study done two weeks ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that showed that, for every 10% of consumer spending they shifted toward local, they created over 1,000 jobs.  And, conversely, for every 10% they shifted toward national, they eliminated 1,000 jobs.”

The city, already facing a projected $250 million budget deficit, will be in worse shape if people don’t shop local, Lanning said.  “Our pools, our libraries, our parks, our fire department will no longer have any money because all the money will be in the pockets of the shareholders in distant states.”

The city is not trying to boot out the big national retailers, but just keep the mom’s and pop’s competitive, she said.  “We’re trying to level the playing field.  Every great city has a good balance of big and small.  Even if just one in five times when you set out, you deliberately go to a local retailer, a local restaurant, then you’re actually doing something positive for your local community,” she said.

Phoenix on a budget: New rail line, hikes, golf

People wait in line for a table at Matt's Big Breakfast (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

[Source: Terry Tang, Associated Press, reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News] — In Phoenix, there’s nothing a trip to the golf course can’t fix.  It’s a warm winter escape for those who can afford a second home, and it basks in the spa-facial glow of being a place where people will pay a lot for five-star fun.  But for those with shallow pockets, the Valley of the Sun has budget-friendly options mixing an urban identity with access to nature.  It’s not every big city where you can scale a mountain, sample authentic Mexican food, and take in a free art show — all in one day. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

More residents call downtown Phoenix home

Artisan Village, Roosevelt neighborhood

[Source: Justin Schmid, Special for The Republic] — Just a few years ago, downtown Phoenix turned into a ghost town after business hours.  Only baseball, hockey, or basketball could bring it to life.  And that was just for a few hours at a time before sports fans retreated back to the suburbs. But more people are making the downtown area their home.

Real-estate broker Chris Campbell of RooPho Realty doesn’t just sell homes to people hungry for city living: He bought a live/work condominium on Roosevelt Street more than three years ago, part of a vanguard of people choosing an urban lifestyle over sprawl and long commutes.

According to Jeremy Legg, an economic-development program manager for Phoenix, Campbell is among nearly 10,000 people who have moved within a 3-mile radius of Central Avenue and Washington Street since 2000.  In the past four years, developers have built or plan to build 4,500 residential units.  The numbers may not seem staggering, but they’re on par with the city’s projections.  Legg expects an additional 5,500 residential units in the next six years.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]