Downtown dissidents nix city manager’s vision

Local merchants may stand to lose most with decision
By: 
WILLIAM E. TOOPS, Publisher

William E. Toops, Publisher

In a Nov. 2, 2018 letter to the mayor and City Council, Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said he’s had enough opposition from downtown merchants to shift the focus of city resources elsewhere. While detailing a number of significant accomplishments since his hire in February 2016, the continuing frustration from a vocal band of naysayers has effectively halted his efforts to pursue a new strategy for the city’s downtown district.
With a legitimate list of significant successes, including the establishment of a competitive civic center; relocation of the Convention and Visitors Bureau to the heart of the city’s hotel hot spot; lawsuit settlements with the likes of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, our hometown Arizona Cardinals, electronics icon Conair and the Glendale Airport Pilots Association, even minimal support from a divided downtown continues to elude nearly every economic development effort on its behalf.
Even the exclusive employment of a downtown manager, contracted with the Glendale Chamber of Commerce to “empower and improve stakeholder engagemen,” has fallen considerably short of core consensus.
All the while, Glendale continues to build on its economic base with the successful recruitment of popular enterprises, such as TopGolf, high-end auto dealership, including BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover, as well as the addition of hundreds of new hotel rooms nestled conveniently throughout Westgate sports and entertainment district.
So what’s the disconnect with downtown? Perhaps it lies in the perception of reality.
While many downtown merchants prefer to hang their financial solvency on a handful of mega events they say ensure throngs of visitors over two weeks’ time, city management sees greater value in scaling events back and adding frequency, up to 150 annually. Further, merchant perspectives tend to support little or no change to the traditional festival concept with the exception of additional funding, yet city management contends downtown Glendale needs an entirely new direction for long-term prosperity.
Representing less than 1/4th of 1 percent of the city’s general fund, it’s clearly not tax revenues providing downtown’s contentious clout. And with more than 14,000 licensed businesses throughout the city, it has become increasingly difficult to justify the annual $1.2 million investment of taxpayer money for the perceived benefit of so few.
While many merchants may be pleased with this decision for now, rising costs within a fixed budget will only serve to erode the glitz and glitter of every event and the commensurate draw from each.
Perhaps a stalemate will result in an open assessment and honest dialogue essential to any beneficial and sustainable solution. However, no one wins in a stalemate.

The Glendale Star

The Glendale Star
7122 N. 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013
Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
Ph: (623) 842-6000
Fax: (623) 842-6013

Terms of Service

Email Us

Facebook

Please Login for Premium Content