[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon extolled the economic resilience of downtown Phoenix [last] week during this annual “State of Downtown” speech. Gordon said Arizona State University’s expansion of its downtown campus, construction of the mixed-use CityScape project, and the light rail system are helping the area. He also said while sales tax revenue is down citywide, it is up 13 percent in downtown Phoenix. “Yes, it’s been a tough year economically for everyone. You’ve heard all about it, read all about and felt it,” Gordon said. “But in spite of it all, we’ve still got a lot going on in downtown Phoenix.”
Notwithstanding the mayor’s optimism, downtown Phoenix faces some economic problems. High-rise condominium developers face questionable financial futures because of troubles with pricing and occupancy. The Hotel Monroe redevelopment at Central Avenue and Monroe Street remains stalled, and the boarded-up building has become a haven for pigeons. The total amount of vacant space in downtown Phoenix stands at 1.05 million square feet — up from 630,400 square feet in the first quarter of 2007, according to Colliers International. The downtown vacancy rate is 13.8 percent, compared with 8.5 percent in first-quarter 2007, according to Colliers.
Downtown also is feeling the effects of pulled-back consumer spending. A number of downtown businesses have closed because of the recession, including Weiss Guys Car Wash at Grand Avenue and Van Buren Street and the China Inn restaurant at the Colliers Center.
The two downtown pro sports teams also face economic challenges. The Arizona Diamondbacks had a poor season on the field and drew about 381,000 fewer fans than in 2008, according to ESPN. The Phoenix Suns have gotten off to strong start on the court — but, like other sports teams, they face hurdles in attracting and keeping fans during the consumer doldrums. [Note: Read the full article at Despite mayor’s optimism, downtown Phoenix feels real estate, consumer stress.]