Southern Scottsdale poised for rebirth of economic vitality

2015 will be a critical time to build upon important momentum created during the past couple of years.
This momentum is all about enhancing Scottsdale’s quality of life and economic sustainability.

Virginia Korte.

Virginia Korte.

Southern Scottsdale and the McDowell Road Corridor are finally experiencing a rebirth of economic vitality. The private sector has taken the lead in initiating the revitalization of McDowell Road, and I believe we have a solid start with new investments and marketing initiatives.

Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, a private-sector nonprofit organization, already has organized cleanup projects, renewed landscaping, created marketing strategies and sponsored the very first “Inspiration Home Tour,” featuring some of Southern Scottsdale’s mid-century modern homes.

Additional housing options are now available and SkySong Apartments are 85 percent occupied, bringing renewed energy and life to the restaurants and small businesses.

Investors and entrepreneurs are looking at this area once again. The soon-to-open Fate Brewery will be bringing a new eatery and local brew to Southern Scottsdale.

One positive impact of the renewed economic vitality in this area of our city is the increasing home values, which are appreciating almost twice as fast as other areas of the Valley. The city can continue to help by creating policies that remove some of the risks for investors in the redevelopment of these southern parcels.

Additionally, our downtown is experiencing a transition of uses. It was a short two years ago that the entertainment district was the “talk of the town.”

Today, our downtown has become a center of employment, with technology and healthcare companies like Yelp, McKesson Pharmaceuticals, ZIVELO, and Weebly. With the additional housing units in mixed-use developments, we are creating sustainable live/work lifestyles within a thriving urban environment. The increase of a 24/7 lifestyle in Downtown Scottsdale will shift retail uses to accommodate residential sector demands.

These shifts will continue to put stress on our downtown parking needs.

This issue must be addressed by the city in collaboration with property and business owners. We should celebrate our successes in attracting employers and providing well-paying jobs, while balancing our tourism industry and accessibility to all downtown users.

In 2013 Scottsdale, in collaboration with our hospitality and tourism industry, adopted a “Five Year Strategic Plan for Scottsdale.”  This plan calls for focusing on our downtown and recommends that Scottsdale create a pedestrian-friendly, live/work lifestyle that will anchor the future leisure visitor.

The tourism plan also calls for a transportation strategy, stating: “Connectivity to the region is imperative for the health of businesses and downtown.”

The city and the transportation commission are updating the transportation master plan and will be hosting community conversations around the need for a more robust public transportation system that serves our residents and workforce, as well as our visitors.

Our tourism industry continues to discuss the need for destination-type experiences.

Many community leaders have been working diligently to make the Desert Discovery Center a reality. I look forward to expanding this conversation while this group continues to forge critical partnerships with the education and preservation communities.
The DDC has the potential to be a game-changer for Scottsdale and become an important anchor for our tourism industry, as well as one of the city’s signature venues.

Funding capital projects will continue to be Scottsdale’s most pressing issue. It is incumbent upon our city and community leaders to communicate to citizens the importance of the need for capital reinvestment.  Over the past two and half decades, I have witnessed our citizen’s overwhelming support of capital bond projects in excess of $700 million.

These projects funded our libraries, parks, senior centers, public safety, transportation improvements, cultural amenities, a spring training baseball stadium, and much more. The citizens of Scottsdale understood the value of investing in our community to make it the best it could be, improving our quality of life, maintaining a city attractive to tourists and visitors, and developing an economic environment that attracts businesses which create jobs.

With the failure of the 2012 capital bond issue, 2015 marks the time to build consensus in our community and bring forward a capital bond project list that not only meets the many needs of Scottsdale, but also can be supported by the broad voter base.

The city staff and council have reduced staffing levels by 13 percent, or 377 employees, eliminated services, consolidated work spaces and sold unneeded buildings, along with deferring maintenance and repair projects to our city’s infrastructure.

I believe we have begun to reestablish trust within our community.

2015 is the year to reach a shared vision so that our city remains viable, desirable and sustainable for our next generations.

Editor’s note: Ms. Korte is a member of Scottsdale City Council

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