In September 2016 longtime community advocates Bill Crawford, Wayne Ecton and Betty Drake began an effort to help protect and encourage what many believe to be the unbridled success of downtown Scottsdale.
Coined the “Scottsdale Downtown Vitality Coalition,” proponents there say the goal of the group is to help encourage the economic vitality of the local downtown sector.
The Scottsdale Independent reached out to the Vitality Coalition and their spokesperson, Dana Close, agreed to respond to a series of questions. This is what she had to say:
• Is there are an overarching problem in downtown Scottsdale that needs to be addressed?
The downtown area has many groups in different camps. There are factions who have differences of opinion about how it should look and grow. There are those who want downtown to remain quaint and to retain a western theme. There is also a growing group who want the area to become more urbanized to create more energy. It’s not a matter of choosing one or the other. The Vitality Coalition believes it can be a mix of both. But that will require compromise for the tribes to coexist. First, they have to set aside their differences and recognize all the things they have in common.
• What do you think can make the difference for local established businesses in the downtown sector?
Sometimes it feels like we’ve reached a political impasse. So, we need an intervention of leadership in the downtown area to mediate the differences. Unfortunately, the differences have been allowed to define downtown, and that’s not good for anyone, especially our city.
• If you could change one thing about downtown Scottsdale to make it better, what would it be?
I think there are plenty of great things happening downtown that we can build on. For example, Scottsdale Public Art does a fantastic job in the downtown area and the Scottsdale Art Walk is a wonderful event. Experience Scottsdale is doing their part to attract more visitors. But we can do more in the way of creating vibrancy with pop-up events such as the artisan markets, food trucks and music. Plus make the area more pedestrian-friendly. We need to reduce the restrictions that stifle fun and excitement. We also need more family-oriented things for people to do, including making the area more child-friendly.
• From your perspective as a member of the Downtown Vitality Coalition how do you perceive the issues of downtown Scottsdale?
Many cities would envy experiencing the issues facing our downtown. Most of the issues can probably be resolved by getting people on the same page and working together. That starts with stopping the complaining about the Entertainment District. Pointing fingers at certain age groups and criticizing campaigns that market downtown aren’t productive. Truthfully, things haven’t been this good for many downtown businesses for a very long time. We should be working on ways to make that success sustainable.
• How do you think downtown Scottsdale ought to evolve in coming years to position itself for success?
The Vitality Coalition thinks downtown is evolving for the better. It’s turning into one of the city’s biggest employment centers, more people than ever live there and tourists continue to flock to the area.
Our organization supports staying the current course to attract more businesses, residents and visitors.
Editor’s note: Ms. Close is a Scottsdale resident and owner of Close Community Concepts