Scottsdale State of the City illustrates municipal musings of success

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, at left, greets local dignitaries Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

About 500 souls descended on McCormick Ranch Wednesday, Jan. 31 to hear Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane deliver the annual State of the City address.

Throughout his 90-minute delivery, Mayor Lane touched on the economic bedrock of tourism while showcasing the municipality’s effort to broaden its economic horizons beyond resort lifestyles, political pandering and reinventions of the multifamily dwelling.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane during a recent city council meeting held at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (File photo)

Mayor Lane has a vision for Scottsdale to emerge as a true high-wage and high-tech marketplace and offers the Cure Corridor as a small step for the biosciences industry but a great step forward for the municipality on the national and international stage.

The annual State of the City address was held at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, 7700 E. McCormick Pkwy. in central Scottsdale.

“A bad day in Scottsdale is equal to the best day you could have just about anywhere else,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said at the onset of his address. “Today, I hope to rekindle your love for Scottsdale. The Scottsdale economy is in great shape.”

While Mayor Lane lauds the prospect of new economic activity in the local bioscience field he also pointed to a redevelopment project at 64th Street and Thomas Road as evidence all corners of the municipality are primed for prosperity.

A joint venture between EverWest Real Estate Partners and WHI Real Estate Partners at 64th Street and Thomas Road coined, “The Quad” will be a 13-acre lifestyle center and office park spurring an effort to create the next generation of office communities.

“It is very encouraging to see how Scottsdale commercial property professionals are reinventing established properties,” he said, pointing out the largest pending transformation at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. “They are bucking trends in the indoor mall marketplace.”

Out with the old, in with the new

Since 1961 the Fashion Square has been providing Scottsdale residents and some 8 million annual visitors with retail needs. First with Goldwater’s Department Store, and now with more than 200 shops and restaurants.

Scottsdale Fashion Square sits on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. (File photo)

Sitting on the northwest corner of Camelback and Scottsdale roads and surrounded by several other retail shops, office buildings and restaurants is the retail shopping keystone community leaders say generates over $10 million a year — which is about 7 percent — of total city sales tax remits.

Macerich, Fashion Square’s California-based owner, gained approval late last year from municipal leaders to expand the mall along Highland Avenue by amending the zoning restrictions on the 56-acre site and increasing building heights up to 150 feet.

Scottsdale economic development officials consider the Cure Corridor — a healthcare and bioscience industry corridor running from east to west along Shea Boulevard and north to south along Scottsdale Road from the Airpark to SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center — a gateway to diversification of the local economy.

City officials say the target industries in this cluster include pharmaceuticals, other biological products, medical laboratories and biotech research.

“One area that is near and dear to me is the Cure Corridor,” Mayor Lane told the crowd of local movers and shakers.

“Cure Corridor is a source of local pride and a national force. Today one of every five employees in Scottsdale are employed in the bio-lifesciences field. This is an area where business and government share an interest — that is the ultimate process of this technology.”

The market share of the Scottsdale Cure Corridor grows every year as today nearly one in every seven bioscience employers in the Phoenix metropolitan area are based in Scottsdale.

According to city data, the Corridor employs more than 20,000 people and pumps $2.5 billion directly into the city’s economy.

The Charro Lodge at Scottsdale Stadium is a key event venue for the Cactus League, which is the Arizona Spring Training League for Major League Baseball. (File photo)

Bedrock of the economy

Shifting from future opportunities to established game-changers, Mayor Lane points to two events — and subsequent atmospheres — as staples that make Scottsdale so attractive to so many: the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and spring training.

“The breadth of the events in Scottsdale is enormous,” Mayor Lane declared pointing out the hundreds of thousands who attend both the signature car auction and Major League Baseball matinées.

“Each impacts our reputation in big and positive ways. We need to support those who help make those events happen.”

A view of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction held annually at WestWorld of Scottsdale. (file photo)

As the changing face of downtown Scottsdale is lifted to be known as “Old Town Scottsdale,” Mayor Lane is quick to admit the local arts scene — both Scottsdale Public Art and those who make up the Scottsdale Gallery Association — is the straw that stirs the downtown drink.

“We are a city of arts. We are a city of museums. We are a city of events,” he said. “We are looking for new ways to reinvigorate that part of our downtown.”

The focus of south Scottsdale revitalization is coming into focus — from improvements along the McDowell Road Corridor to a rebirth of educational excellence at Coronado High School — as Mayor Lane lauds the work of his fellow council members and the citizen group: the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance recently unveiled its long-awaited branding and marketing plan whereas proponents contend the new brand can help turn the economic tide of the McDowell Road Corridor.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, seeks to advance investment and revitalization opportunities in southern Scottsdale and along the McDowell Corridor, its mission statement reads.

There was a time when portions of McDowell Road served as a major commercial artery pumping a constant flow of revenue into the coffers of local proprietors and the municipality of Scottsdale. Once referred to as the Scottsdale “Motor Mile,” the area saw an exodus of business over the past decade as low- and high-end car dealerships sought greener pastures in different parts of the Valley of the Sun.

“McDowell road looks and feels better than it has in a long time,” Mayor Lane said pointing out the efforts of council colleagues Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte, who were instrumental in the creation of the SGA.

A positive for public education

Mayor Lane says the Coronado Success Initiative is a bright spot for public education in the city of Scottsdale.

A wall within Coronado High School dons secondary education and post-graduation options. (File photo)

“The school is experiencing a new culture and I am pleased to report that every student at Coronado has applied to college,” he said.

Overall, the focus at Coronado is personal and academic growth for its students, officials at SUSD contend.

When the Coronado Success Initiative started last spring, community partnerships between Scottsdale Unified School District, the Scottsdale Charros, Scottsdale Community College, ASU and others, were the partners fueling the overhaul. The program now has 17 partners, district officials say.

The partnerships with different entities around town have allowed the school to bring in speakers, professional development experts, community engagement and kick-off a mentor program.

Additionally, the school has set a new district record notching the most graduates, 91, from Arizona State University’s American Dream Academy.

A compassionate approach to societal ills

Mayor Lane went on to acknowledge the public safety efforts surrounding combat of the nationwide opioid epidemic through a compassionate approach.

The Scottsdale Police Department and the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, are joining forces and have launched the Scottsdale Angel Initiative.

Pills like this hydrocodone tablet are many peoples’ first introduction to the world of opiates that, in recent years, has translated into opiate addiction. (File photo)

Adults wishing to participate in the Scottsdale Arizona Angel Initiative can contact any Scottsdale police officer or walk into any of the four district stations — between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday — and declare their desire to participate in the Angel Initiative. Participants will be required to present a valid form of identification.

Department representatives will then facilitate the pairing of the participant with a program Angel. The Angel, a program volunteer committed to helping those suffering from addiction, will provide an evaluation and work to secure appropriate services.

“This is a community of people who care about each other,” Mayor Lane told the crowd, pointing out the day-to-day sacrifices of the community’s first responders.

“We are not immune to the social ills that are impacting all of us. Our officers have been trained how to use Narcan, which reverses the effects of an overdose. And, save lives they have. At least six lives were saved in 2017 because of Scottsdale police who worked in partnership.”

Mayor Lane closed his speech yesterday afternoon alerting those in attendance, the city of Scottsdale will now be considered a Golden Rule city, which is affirmation of the community’s commitment to treating people the way they would like to be treated and by helping those in need.

“There is so much good news here in Scottsdale and the issues that affect us all we are forging ahead with regional partnerships,” he said. “There is no better way to illustrate this as we proclaimed ourselves a Golden Rule city.”

In tune with tenets of the Golden Rule, proceeds generated from the annual State of the City address will be donated to Operation Fix it, a program that teams volunteers and businesses to assist homeowners or tenants who are physically or financially unable to maintain their properties.

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

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