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.]

Posted on January 15, 2009, in Affordable Housing, Downtown Vitality, Employment, Livability, Luxury Housing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I live in Downtown. I have no kids.

    For about 10 years I jumped around from Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, and on the edge of Scottsdale. For those 10 years I couldn’t have given two shits about the Valley.

    I got a job working for the State and moved downtown to be close to work.

    In the last 3 years, NextDOOR, The Lost Leaf, The Roosevelt, Breadfruit, Palette, and many others have all opened and they are all within walking distance of my house.

    There is NOTHING in the Valley that comes even close to Downtown living. If you were to ask me 5 years ago what Phoenix is like, I would have told you “palm trees, strip malls and chains”. Go anywhere in the Valley outside of those two areas (and downtown), and it’s completely indistinguishable from any destination in the area.

    I F’n LOVE Downtown and I’d NEVER in a million years live anywhere else in the Valley. I mean… Chandler? Are you kidding me? Hey let’s all meet at Applebees and have some fun! Snoooooooze!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: