Posted Feb 20, 2012, 2:56 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North Mesa
Downtown Phoenix success spreads outward
Business leaders in northeast Phoenix should watch what's happening downtown to better anticipate financial trends for the entire city.
"Downtown is our public face to the global business community, and its success can be perceived as representing the promise of the region," said Paul Blue, chief of staff to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
More than 100 members of the downtown Phoenix business community recently gathered at the 18th annual DREAMR Awards lunch to celebrate downtown Phoenix's best and brightest. But eyes were far beyond downtown.
"If downtown is the heart of the city, it's important to have a healthy heart. As downtown adds jobs and residents, it has a positive impact everywhere," said Mike Ebert, managing partner of RED Development, a commercial real-estate development and management firm in downtown's CityScape.
Ebert recently won an award from the Downtown Phoenix Partnership for his leadership with RED, which manages CityScape, a mixed-use project with office and retail space that opened in November 2010. In June, RED took over management of the CityNorth development at Loop 101 and 56th Street in northeast Phoenix.
"We're certainly seeing pretty noticeable improvements in our Phoenix properties. CityScape is virtually full from a leasing standpoint and Town and Country (Camelback Road and 22nd Street) is getting new tenants. And with CityNorth, we have four or five new office tenants that we're completing transactions with right now," he said. "That would not have been the case in 2009 or 2010."
When corporations are considering planting roots in the Valley, visiting downtown Phoenix is often one of the first steps taken in the decision-making process, Blue said. Downtown areas usually signify life and pride in a metropolitan area that goes beyond the defined borders of downtown.
"Suppliers, subcontractors and satisfied customers throughout the Phoenix region depend upon downtown businesses to meet their businesses' needs, and in these ways our urban core's health is tied directly to the rest of our community," Blue said. "Other communities that have not invested in their downtowns suffer from decay and blight, which results in an unfavorable business climate and loss of employment."
During the recession, sales taxes generated in downtown Phoenix actually grew, while they declined in other parts of the city.
"Because of citywide revenue reductions that were caused by the economic retraction, the city had to make painful cuts to important services citywide. If it were not for the growth that occurred downtown, those reductions would have been even more severe," Blue said.
"Downtown provides jobs," he said. "Without this economic engine, our regional job picture would be more bleak."
The Downtown Phoenix Partnership said about 65,000 people are employed within a mile of CityScape.
"People work in downtown, but they live everywhere throughout the Valley," said Dave Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
Despite the optimism, downtown Phoenix remains relatively empty many evenings throughout the week, especially compared with areas like Old Town Scottsdale and downtown Tempe.
"We are headed in the right direction, but we've got a ways to go. Compared to where it was 10 or 20 years ago, it's certainly a major improvement," Roderique said.
North of downtown
Kerry Phelps leads the marketing and advertising decisions for the Valley's Tilted Kilt restaurants, a Tempe-based national restaurant chain. The company opened a restaurant in downtown Phoenix's CityScape last summer and is opening its newest restaurant at 4731 E. Cactus Road, in northeast Phoenix, near Paradise Valley Mall.
"On any given day, you may have 30,000 to 40,000 people coming to downtown," Phelps said. "They're going to see our brand and even though they may not live downtown, that will certainly assist us in making more people aware of our brand."
Support for locally owned downtown businesses benefits the business communities across the Valley, said Edward Gomillion, executive director of the North Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
"Anytime dollars are spent locally, more of those dollars circulate back into the local economy than not," he said. "And that ... most definitely has a ripple effect."
This story almost reads like a sales pitch for downtown. Good publicity none the less and I did not know that tax revenue from downtown bucked the trend and actually grew during the recession. That's incredible news. Think of the potential once the economy really gets rolling.