The same people who are making decisions today are some of the same people who fought against “The Man” in decades past. How do they feel about being the ones in power now? Are they happy with where we’ve come to?
I got to thinking about this when I went to the Cityscape topping off event downtown last month, which followed the news that Cityscape was going to have all locally owned establishments as tenants. This was great news for Arizona. Purchasing locally provides as much as 75% more tax revenue for our state.
It was a testament to the many people who communicated to the Cityscape planners to remind them that to support local businesses. I wonder if if Cityscape developers, Red Development, pushed for local tenants because their planned franchisees bailed on the project, or because they really wanted local ownership.
So, as I watched the proceedings and tried not to sweat too much, I got to thinking about all those folks who have been working at Phoenix redevelopment since the 1980s or before.
These folks got started in a time when politics in Phoenix was dominated by the mysterious “Phoenix 40,” only a few years after Don Boles was assassinated outside the Clarendon Hotel for exposing mob connections around town. (Read more about that group here.)
What was it like to “come up” in that time? What did they fight against? What are the parallels and lessons for today? Is the downtown they see today what they were hoping for almost 30 years ago?