My friend Laurie Coe in a recent Scottsdale Progress opinion piece said she is against the proposed Museum Square project at the southern edge of Old Town.
I am not. I support it.
I have been an advocate of Scottsdale’s “arts districts” for more than 10 years and work to promote the area to Valley hotel concierges.
My familiarity with the area is why I believe Museum Square’s proposed 4-5-star hotel tentatively called “The Arizonan,” combined with new, high-end residences, could be an excellent fit for the area, including for the adjoining Museum of the West, a Smithsonian-affiliate.
It too supports Museum Square among many other top community organizations.
We should all want more high-end buyers for the area buying artwork at our local galleries.
Once upon a time, galleries populated Marshall Way to the north of Main Street. Yet, many of them have gone.
Why? There is a myriad of reasons: Online purchases, the new arts energy in downtown Phoenix and bad landlords.
I am concerned the same can befall our beloved Main Street if we do relatively nothing — as happened with Marshall Way.
Where I agree with Coe and others is that the project must be developed with enough parking. She mistakenly points to a new hotel now under construction as being part of Museum Square. It’s not, but the point remains.
Despite the proliferation of Uber and Lyft, especially for hotel guests, I believe the parking issue can and will be resolved. And no, despite Coe’s insinuation, metered parking isn’t going to a be part of the solution. There will be a huge blow back if meters are brought up again.
There’s no doubt we need to have enough parking for hotel guests, condo owners and those visiting the restaurants at Museum Square.
And by so doing our arts district will be that much more vibrant and alive for galleries, businesses, tourists and artists.
There are similarities between the Scottsdale Waterfront and Museum Square.
The former redeveloped a former, non-descript retail center and barren Arizona Canal into a showpiece of art, recreation and residences. And yes, it has buildings 150 feet tall.
But the community seems to like the Scottsdale Waterfront, judging from all the restaurants, people and events there. Also, the downtown area already has numerous other such buildings with more on the way at Scottsdale Fashion Square and elsewhere.
Compared to the Scottsdale Waterfront, Museum Square has even more open space and better designs in my opinion. The Waterfront doesn’t have a hotel. Museum Square does.
And the project takes a barren piece of land (an abandoned transit station) — far worse than what the Waterfront inherited — and turns it into a new jewel that also sees city taxpayers realize $27 million in new money from the sale of the city land.
That is a lot of money that can be used for parking needs in the area as well as other money that will fund our parks, police and quality of life.
While there are numerous bad development proposals in Scottsdale these days, Museum Square is certainly not among them. It is artful and worthy of support, as it endeavors to work out any remaining parking issues.