[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The number of reported crimes in downtown Phoenix has plummeted more than 50 percent since 1999, and it dropped nearly 10 percent from 2007 to 2008, police statistics show. The drop is the result of old-fashioned police work, a national decrease in crime, and a downtown building spree that has transformed the neighborhood, police and other experts say.
Phoenix is in good company. Several major U.S. cities, including New York and Philadelphia, have turned once-seedy downtown neighborhoods into tourist areas. But an expert says that even the most successful downtowns must always be mindful about public perceptions about safety.
The city has come a long way since strolling prostitutes were a familiar sight downtown decades ago. And it’s gotten much safer during the last few years, too, gallery owner Greg Esser said. When Esser and his wife opened the Eye Lounge art space eight years ago, they were afraid to leave the door unlocked during business hours. Now, they don’t worry about crime much. “Instead of open-air drug deals, there are strollers and joggers and a lot more people on the street,” Esser said.
Since 1990, downtown Phoenix has gained the Arizona Center shopping mall, two sports arenas, a larger convention center, a slew of condo projects, more art galleries, and an ASU campus, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. Now Diamondbacks fans linger in neighborhood eateries long after the ninth inning and convention attendees feel at ease roaming downtown streets. “As we put more activities and businesses downtown that have later hours, we create more comfort zones,” Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]