Daily Archives: January 15, 2009

Why Gangplank didn’t locate in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Derek Neighbors, Gangplank, December 19, 2008] — People often ask why we didn’t locate in downtown Phoenix when we moved Gangplank.  I always try to be polite with my response (or usually I do).  However, the truth is because we feel that downtown Phoenix is dead.  It has been for a long time.  Twenty years of pouring money into it hasn’t changed much.  Now before you go and label me a hater (which I am), I will say that I worked for nearly ten years at the heart of downtown.

While I remain in love with the concept of a vibrant downtown, those ten years taught me that our downtown is a lost hope.  It is bustling with people from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, but then it turns into the proverbial ghost town.  Light rail or billions of dollars in cash infusions won’t change this.  Adding skyscrapers and professional sports arenas certainly hasn’t.

The problem is Phoenix is where people from high rent places like Chicago, California, etc. come to own a piece of the American dream (land/home ownership) or from the mid-west where rural (space) is a way of life.  The people dwell by choice in our suburbs.  In order for downtown Phoenix to not be dead, it has be inhabited by the people currently choosing the edges. I don’t see this happening on a scale large enough to make an immediate difference.

So back to Gangplank, there is a myth that if you centrally locate you attract a large base of the greater community.  The problem is downtown Phoenix has NO PEOPLE, making it effectively the center of “bullshit and nowhere.”  West or East side residents have little interest in driving 30 to 50 miles nor do North or South residents, when the destination is nowhere.  Metro Phoenix is now big enough that picking a side actually yields better results than picking the uninhabited middle.  Yes, I’m sure I have pissed several people I respect off by now, but signs that the current movement is failing yet again are written all over the wall.  This economy is not helping.  Both the USA Today: “Pain on Main Street: Timing proves bad for Phoenix” and Arizona Republic: “Developers scale back $900 million CityScape project in Phoenix” ran articles on the subject lately.

While there are many locals that remain hopeful like Sam: “Deserted After Dark” and Tyler: “The State of Downtown Phoenix…”  Let’s face it, when a downtown ambassador employed by merchants to assist visitors, says he often sends tourists to Scottsdale and Tempe when they ask about night life. Then states, “It’s a ghost town.”  That’s a pretty strong sign that there are serious problems with the current formula.  I love metro Phoenix (including its downtown) and I hope that I am wrong, but as of now I’m not willing to gamble my money on it.

Before you respond… Do you live in downtown Phoenix?  If not, why?  If so, do you have a spouse and kids?  For now I would classify downtown approx. 19th Ave to 24th Street between Thomas and Buckeye (16 or so square miles).  [Note: To read the full blog entry and comments, click here.]

Phoenix Councilman Stanton to resign for job with AG’s Office

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on Thursday appointed Phoenix City Councilman Greg Stanton to head legislative affairs in his office.  Stanton said he would resign from elected office and begin his new job on Feb. 4, one day after the City Council is slated to vote on a record $270 million in budget cuts through the 2010 fiscal year.  “I’m excited to continue my public service working for Terry Goddard, someone I admire a great deal,” said Stanton, an attorney who has served on the council since 2000.  “I absolutely promised I would not leave my position with the City Council until we finish the budget process.  I owe it to the people I represent.”

Stanton, who had filed papers to run for his third and final council term this fall, replaces David Gass as deputy attorney general for legislation, policy and strategic planning.  Gass stepped down on Jan. 1 after Gov. Janet Napolitano appointed him a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.  Goddard, who served as Phoenix mayor from 1984 to 1990, said he’s been impressed with Stanton while working with him on gang, graffiti and other crime issues in Phoenix.  “We’re going with Greg Stanton based on his credentials, his experience and his legal background,” Goddard said. “There is a whole list of assets that he brings to the table that are not duplicated anywhere else.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Metro light rail among DREAMR winners

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal] — Metro light rail will be among recipients of the annual DREAMR Awards to be presented Jan. 26 by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  The awards honor people, places, and projects helping turn the dream for a vibrant center city to a realized urban core combining commerce, university students, scientists, doctors, artists, urban dwellers, theater goers, and sports fans.

DREAMR stands for Downtown Revitalization Effort Awards of Merit and Recognition.  Metro light rail will receive the Project/Program Award.  Other honorees will be:

  • Private Sector Individual Award — business partners Dan Majerle and A.J. Sulka, owners of Majerle’s.
  • Outstanding Organization Award — Phoenix Downtown Development Office as the driving force behind the Arizona State University campus, Phoenix Biomedical Campus and University of Arizona College of Medicine, Sheraton Hotel, and CityScape.
  • Unsung Hero Award — Longtime downtown developer Andy Conlin, a founding member of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership who played key roles in projects, including the Arizona Center and Diamondbacks ballpark.
  • Visionary Award — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon for his stewardship of downtown Phoenix.
  • Best Breakfast Spot — First Watch.
  • Best Lunch Spot — Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House.
  • Best Happy Hour — Matador Mexican Food Restaurant.
  • Best Nightlife Spot — Matador Mexican Food Restaurant.
  • Best Place to Relax — Compass Restaurant.
  • Best Cultural Attraction — Arizona Science Center.
  • Best Retail Store — Renaissance Snacks & Gifts.
  • Best Athlete — Amari Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns.
  • Best Personal Care —Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA.

The “best” awards were selected by the public.  The 15th annual awards will be presented at a program from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.  Tickets cost $70 and RSVPs are due by Jan. 22. For more information, contact Julie De Anda, 602-744-6412.