Mayor Phil Gordon’s State of Downtown Phoenix Speech

Here is the transcript of Mayor Gordon’s State of Downtown Speech, delivered on November 4, 2010. A video of the speech, held at CityScape in Downtown Phoenix, is HERE:



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Good evening and welcome.


How about Kaley O’Kelley from Channel 3’s “Good Morning Arizona.” Isn’t she terrific?  She has to be at work in a few hours, so I promised her my speech will be short … sort of.

I’d also like to thank RED Development and all of tonight’s sponsors for making this event – and downtown – such a success.

Speaking of success, the City of Phoenix couldn’t do it without the 14,000 employees who every day meet one challenge after another.

The truth of the matter?  Without our employees … Phoenix would not be a world-class city.  We wouldn’t be at or near 20-year lows in our crime rate in every category.  We wouldn’t have survived the down economy – much less attracted more than $2 billion dollars in construction projects citywide in the past year.

That’s $2 billion with a “B”… real deals, bricks and mortar, bulldozers, architects, electricians, plumbers, jobs.  In just the last year, these projects have created more than 10,000 new jobs and 4 million square feet of commercial, residential and industrial space.

Without our employees and our great partners none of that would be true.  Together we have created a revitalized downtown that tonight gleams like a jewel.  Please, let’s give them … and while you’re at it, yourselves …. a huge round of applause.

If there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s this:  In Phoenix, dreams do come true.

That’s the story of our downtown.  It’s a story we’ve written together … weaving vision, unity and the power of commitment. Think about what we’ve done in the past seven years … since the first time we gathered for a speech like this, we’ve opened:

  • T-Gen
  • ASU downtown
  • The U of A medical and pharmacy schools
  • 20 miles of light rail
  • We’ve renovated and expanded the Phoenix Convention Center
  • We’ve opened the Downtown Sheraton Hotel
  • We’ve added hundreds of residential units
  • Opened Civic Space Park
  • Hosted fabulous events at the newly christened Comerica Theater, and
  • Added scores of retail businesses and restaurants

I could go on and on, except my co-chief of staff, Marchelle Franklin, keeps threatening she’ll use her new Taser on me.

Dreams do come true, though.  Many of you were with me in 2004, when I vowed to tear down Patriot’s Square Park and replace it with something worthy of that name.  Look around.  Our dream for downtown has come true.  But we’re nowhere near done.

I tell my son Jake all the time: “Never give up. You can’t quit. You never want to be the guy who blinks.”

We can’t blink. One split second can make all the difference. The opportunities we miss will never come back.  We have to keep pushing. We have to do more.

Dreams are great, but you can’t pay your mortgage with dreams.  Dreams don’t put food on the table.

That’s why tonight I’m excited to announce more news brought on by our dreams.  Downtown Phoenix has hit the hotel trifecta.

Later this month, the downtown Wyndham will be transformed and upgraded into a Marriott Renaissance hotel.  That’s win #1.

Win #2 is the addition of a new Westin hotel at the corner of Central and Van Buren.  And win #3?

It’s happening directly above us, where RED Development and Kimpton are bringing to life the Hotel Palomar.  I assure you, there isn’t a major city in America opening two new downtown hotels – and reflagging a third – in the midst of this economy.

What do these 3 victories mean for us? More conventions, more visitors, more jobs and more revenue for our city and our state.  That says something fundamental about the brightness of downtown’s future.

Its present is exceptionally bright, too.  Tonight begins four days celebrating CityScape, where the openings will happen this week and into next year.

  • Urban Outfitters
  • Oakville Grocery
  • The Stand-Up Live comedy club
  • The Charming Charlie boutique
  • LGO Public House

It doesn’t stop there.  Some morning very soon … like next week … the breaking news will continue.  I’ll stand here with Mike Ebert, RED Development’s managing partner. Together, we’ll announce a new tenant for CityScape, one meant to occupy 150,000 square feet of space and add hundreds of new jobs to downtown.

Now please join me in welcoming one of the best friends Phoenix has … Mike Ebert of RED Development.

Mike …

Thank you, Mike …

I wish I could be with you tomorrow for the dedication of the new Patriot’s Square Park. Even worse, I’m missing the “world’s largest coffee break” sponsored by Starbuck’s … which, by the way (hint, hint) will look great here at CityScape.  Instead, I’ll be flying to Montreal to return on Air Canada’s first-ever direct flight from Montreal to Phoenix.

I love this city.  Why?  Because of its drive … our shared passion for making things happen.  I hate to be a tease … again … but before Thanksgiving I plan to make another downtown dream come true just a few blocks from here.

The big headline?  Another major tenant for downtown … another 200,000 square feet of space … another thousand people downtown every day, where they’ll work, dine and shop.

I love it when that happens.  I love that every day in Phoenix we’re able to work with partners like the University of Arizona, visionaries who see opportunity where others see only problems.

Seven years ago, a medical school and a pharmacy school downtown were dreams.  Now, they’re reality.  Today, 168 future doctors study right here … downtown.  The first class of 24 doctors will step out into the world this May.

But we haven’t stopped there.  Last week, we started moving dirt on the Health Sciences Education Building which will be open in 2012.  Not too many years from now, we’ll be graduating 120 doctors a year. Think of all the lives they’ll make better. Think of the lives they’ll save.

But, again, we can’t stop.  Especially when it comes to fighting cancer.

Here to tell us what comes next …. and accompanied by some of our very own future doctors … is the Dean of Research for the College of Medicine-Phoenix, Dr. Joan Shapiro.  Let’s give them a hand, please. Dean …

Thanks, Dean Shapiro. That’s great news about the Arizona Cancer Center.

Okay, I know there’s a contingent from Arizona State University here tonight.  With the election just past … and as a graduate of both universities … I’m conscious of the need for equal time.

Without the University and Dr. Michael Crow, there would be no downtown success story.  They’ve met every challenge so far … and then some.  That’s why I don’t mind laying down the biggest challenge yet.  One I know they’ll meet.

For years, whenever we’ve discussed the future of downtown … ASU’s Law School has been a part of that conversation.  It’s a great fit, in the heart of the state’s legal community.  It makes sense.  That’s why it’s time to take the Law School beyond the idea phase. Beyond talk.  It’s time to begin implementing this vision — to make it real.

So tonight as Mayor, in a downtown where the state of things is strong … I’m calling upon the city’s university – ASU – to join with me, my colleagues and the business community – to begin Phase 2 of ASU’s downtown campus next week.

I’m calling upon the University to move beyond the idea phase … to begin designing what Dr. Crow has described, not just as a law school, but the Arizona Center for Law and Society – a multi-sector partnership that has the potential to redefine the study of law.

Does this goal sound ambitious?  Of course.

Will we meet this goal?  Absolutely.

With the bar set, let me hand the microphone to Rich Stanley, ASU’s Senior Vice President and University Planner … who I imagine is furiously rewriting his speech right now.

Rich …

Thanks, Rich.

I know this task adds to ASU’s already full plate … but I’ve seen the University and Dr. Crow rise to every challenge in their path.  Just FYI, Rich, I’m hoping to see some plans on my desk in time for the State of the City speech in late March.

Only kidding … a little.  Patience has never been my strong point.  Patience is for those who have the luxury of time … for those who have the luxury of comfort.  We have neither in Phoenix.

For every success we’ve had downtown and across our city…we need more.  For every one of us who today feels grateful for leading a blessed life … we have 10 residents who feel anxious — whose future hangs in the balance.

If I have pushed our employees, pushed our partners, pushed my colleagues … pushed you … I hope you know it was never for self-glory, but only to make the city of Phoenix what we all believe it to be.

The best place to call home.  The best place to raise a family.  The best place to start a business. The very best city in America.

Thank you … all of you, and good night.


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