Scottsdale Downtown Vitality Coalition aims to perpetuate economic success

A view of shops in downtown Scottsdale. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Fittro)

A view of shops in downtown Scottsdale. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Fittro)

Longtime community advocates Bill Crawford, Wayne Ecton and Betty Drake have begun an effort to help protect and encourage what many believe to be the unbridled success of downtown Scottsdale.

Coined the “Scottsdale Downtown Vitality Coalition,” both Mr. Crawford and Mr. Ecton say the goal of the group is to help encourage the economic vitality of the local downtown sector.

“We have just started this, the core group is myself, Betty Drake and Wayne Ecton. We have begun to reach out,” said Mr. Crawford in an Aug. 30 phone interview. “As we gain more traction, we are going to be reaching out to more hospitality businesses.”

Downtown Scottsdale — better known as the city’s entertainment district — is home to restaurants and unique retail businesses, an extensive collection of fine art galleries and a lively bar district. That entertainment district attracts thousands of patrons daily and provides a steady stream of dollars and cents into the city’s General Fund, downtown advocates contend.

Bill Crawford

Bill Crawford

Mr. Crawford, an established downtown proprietor and one-time chief critic of issues surrounding the lively bar district, says he has seen a maturity of the marketplace he hasn’t seen before.

“We believe that downtown Scottsdale is experiencing a renaissance and it has positives and vitality,” he said. “We are here to promote that, protect that and do what we can to create some synergy.”

Mr. Crawford, who owns Basic Training at 4390 N. Miller Road No. 107, says he has seen it all in downtown Scottsdale — the good, the bad and the barf.

“When I thought the bar district was getting out of hand I started a group working with the mayor. And, it has made it a much better place there is compatibility with the neighborhoods.”

The establishment of conditional-use permits in the early 2010s and the enforcement of noise regulations starting about the same time have made a difference, which were both key focuses of Mr. Crawford’s first downtown group.

“The next step is to just build on the next steps of success in downtown,” he said. “This is a huge economic engine for the city of Scottsdale.”

Mr. Crawford says the founding group has no intentions of raising either political dollars or clout.

“We do feel that there is real need to project and promote the fact that downtown Scottsdale is alive and well,” he explained of the catalyst for the effort.  “No city can be great without a great downtown. We have one and I want to promote that. If there are political issues that we have to weigh-in on we all now have the conduit to do that.”

Both Mr. Ecton and Ms. Drake are former members of Scottsdale City Council and longtime residents of the community of Scottsdale. Mr. Ecton says he has lived from border to border in the city of Scottsdale.

Wayne Ecton

Wayne Ecton

“We have lived here for 20 years. I’ve had exposure to all these different kinds of people,” Mr. Ecton said in a Sept. 8 phone interview.

“When I was on city council for 8.5 years I participated in a lot of things at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and what I had come to find out is we were and are in fact the envy of so many different cities.”

But Mr. Ecton contends the city of Scottsdale and its residents need to pay attention to its downtown sector.

“You can’t just rest on your laurels — the main thing is you have to remain sustainable,” he said. “A lot of people are concerned that there isn’t enough being done to keep the infrastructure up to date.”

Mr. Ecton says his reason for founding the downtown vitality coalition is to make sure progress is not stalled due to political pandering during an election year.

“I think it is coming about because there is a lot of dispute about certain things that are planned for downtown,” he said. “People are concerned about stopping progress and being held back from being one of the best cities in the United States.”

Downtown Scottsdale is home to iconic western art cherished by visitors and local alike. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Fittro)

Downtown Scottsdale is home to iconic western art cherished by visitors and local alike. (Independent Newsmedia/Melissa Fittro)

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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