A new energy needed in Phoenix?

Those who reside in or have been to Downtown Phoenix in the past several months may have noticed a change. You can now easily spot people on the streets, unique places to shop and eat, and sold-out apartment complexes. All things that were previously unheard of just five years ago.

The city has come a long way in creating an urban core in the middle of urban sprawl. But the work is not finished yet. A recent article in the Arizona Republic points out the difficulties the city has faced, as well as the steps it is taking to move forward:

“But the quick, explosive growth of Phoenix — it was the 99th-largest city in America with only 107,000 people in 1950 — also has masked the failure to build the solid culture and secure the kind of deep attachments and loyalty that older, more established cities can assume and bank on. How else can we really explain that our baseball and football teams are not the Phoenix Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Cardinals?…

“…It’s encouraging that Mayor Greg Stanton seemed to grasp this when he outlined his priorities in his April State of the City address. ‘We can’t simply adopt a”‘superblock” mentality for our downtown. We must focus our energies on attracting more people and events to our downtown to create a more modern, more lively center city.’

“Nonetheless, it’s discouraging to realize that one of America’s largest cities — despite its relative youth — is still just forming new organizations to make some noise. Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, which supports locally owned businesses, explained the decades-old dilemma to me like this: ‘The Old Guard is still here — and they don’t know how to collaborate. They know they’ve given us a faulty product, but they don’t know what to do about it…’

“…Innovation-minded business incubators such as SkySong in Scottsdale, eco-minded projects like the Metro light rail and entrepreneurial-minded development projects like the Discovery Triangle near Sky Harbor International Airport are meaningful signs that the city may one day produce enough urban energy to inspire both locals and a diverse collection of prospective newcomers. But to reach that tipping point and secure Phoenix a slot amongst America’s alluring cities of the future, it will take the commitment of more than a limited pool of urban enthusiasts.”

You can read the full commentary here. What do you think should be done to help the City of Phoenix prosper? What about the surrounding cities in the Valley? What have you seen other cities in Arizona doing? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

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