On Tuesday, November 17, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon took the stage at Civic Space Park for his sixth State of Downtown address. Instead of focusing on the tough economic times since last year’s speech, the mayor made it a point to look toward the future of Downtown Phoenix, with ASU’s promise, 1 million square feet of development, light rail’s success and better education and parks leading the way.
Below is the transcript of the mayor’s address. Leave your comments below… DPJ would love to know what you thought of the mayor’s focus for the upcoming year.
“The Time is Now”
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Let me thank Jeanine L’Ecuyer for doing such a great job as our emcee tonight. Let’s give her a hand.
And let me acknowledge our title sponsor, Freeport McMoRan for making this free event possible tonight. Freeport McMoRan continues to be the world’s largest publicly owned copper company – and a fantastic corporate partner. We’re proud to have their global headquarters in downtown Phoenix.
And I’d like to acknowledge my colleagues from the Phoenix City Council who have joined us this evening.
Let’s thank them for all the hard work they do for our community.
But what also makes this City run – is the best collection of city employees in the country. And they are all led by our very talented – and brand new – city manager, David Cavazos. Please help me thank them all.
And thank all of YOU so much for joining us for our Sixth State of Downtown Celebration – and the very first one to be held outdoors – where we can all mingle with people and actually SEE downtown Phoenix. And I know you’ll agree with me that what we have done is truly a unique revitalization of downtown.
Other cities have tried for decades to pump life into their downtowns – including us. Why? Because we have learned that for a City to be healthy – it must have a healthy heart. And that heart – that core – is its downtown. When a city is battling sprawl and decay, its heart grows weak. But when you have a healthy downtown – a healthy heart – the core grows denser and stronger, more active – and pumps new life into the entire city.
For those of you who have been coming to these events all along, we’ve experienced some interesting things together haven’t we? We were among the very first to gather in the expanded Convention Center – and to meet in our new Downtown Sheraton. We all rode the light rail a month before anyone else — and we welcomed the University of Arizona, to downtown Phoenix. I want to acknowledge the historic significance of that. The U of A put the interests of the State first and did something unprecedented in history – by expanding their medical school to Phoenix — AND they did it by partnering with ASU. Let’s give our visionary friends from the University of Arizona a big round of applause.
Some of you might even remember another “First” when, using incredible state-of-the-art technology, we all watched a giant video screen and saw a U of A doctor and Tucson medical students examine and diagnose Phoenix City Councilman Claude Mattox from 100 miles away. This means that rural communities and small schools can now access personal medical attention, literally, with a very small camera and the click of a mouse. It’s tremendously important and amazing.
Well tonight – we’re at our new Civic Space – next to the historic A. E. England Building which opened for the first time in 1929 – and now, has reopened 80 years later as a 21st Century Town Hall – a free resource for all in our community. And, of course, overhead, we are stunningly surrounded by one of Janet Echelman’s defining pieces of art – “Her Secret is Patience”. Though with all due respect to Ms. Echelman — when it comes to building a downtown – MY Secret is that I am NEVER patient. My secret is Nike’s motto – Just Do It.
And for the past six years, that’s EXACTLY what WE have been doing.
I’m not going to spend my usual 10 minutes recapping what’s been going on around here. You’ve seen it. You’ve eaten in the new unique restaurants, visited the galleries, enjoyed the NBA All-Star activities, continue to enjoy OUR “Best in the NBA” Phoenix Suns – and 17,000 of you watched the Phoenix Mercury – the GREAT Phoenix Mercury — win their second championship in three years.
And just last week, we hosted the International Greenbuild conference – bringing 28,000 people to Phoenix from all over the globe. So yes, our downtown really did have a year that made most cities “green” – and not just in an environmental way. In an envious way.
But that was yesterday. This year, I want to focus on this evening. And all our tomorrows.
Yes, it’s been a tough year economically for everyone. You’ve heard all about it, read all about and felt it.
But in spite of it all, we’ve still got a lot going on in downtown Phoenix. And it’s all good. In fact, as we gather here tonight, more than 1 million square feet of new space is currently under construction in downtown Phoenix.
And in ANY economy, a million is STILL a very big number.
A big part of that big number, is represented by CityScape. As you might recall, CityScape is truly a landmark project – $900 million dollars in private investment over 3 city blocks in the heart of our downtown. As of tonight, 74 percent of both its commercial and retail space has already been leased – six full months before its completion.
Six years ago, I got the biggest applause of my life when I announced that I wanted to bulldoze Patriots’ Park and replace it with something that would be a jewel for Downtown, and would honor our Patriots in a more inviting and inclusive way.
The new Patriots’ park is now under construction.
You all know that CityScape is going to take downtown to a whole new level. Restaurants, night clubs, our first REAL downtown pharmacy, a grocery store – it’s all incredibly exciting.
And ONE new addition to CityScape is VERY exciting. It’s called Lucky Strike. Lucky Strike is a bowling alley, but it’s not like any bowling alley you’ve ever seen. It’s a restaurant, but so much more. It’s a sports bar, but so much more. It’s simply “an entertainment experience”.
But until you can experience it for yourself – you’ll just have to SEE it for yourself. Recently, a Lucky Strike opened to RAVE reviews in Hollywood. And THIS is what it looks like. Please watch the screen.
I’m not a very good bowler – unless I can use those bumpers that my 10 year old son Jake USED to use — so let me ask my new friend to join me on stage and help us celebrate Lucky Strike by knocking down a few pins.
So CityScape will continue to change the face – and the dynamics – of downtown Phoenix for decades to come. And if you ask the folks from RED Development why they think NOW is the time to be downtown — they’ll tell you it’s because ASU thought it was time to be downtown. It IS time.
And ASU changed everything. That’s why we’re here – in this park – our first sustainable park in Phoenix. Because I want to say “thank you” to Dr. Crow and to ASU – and to highlight the steady heartbeat of Arizona State University – which continues to pump life into downtown Phoenix, continues to generate revenue for the State – and continues to do what universities are supposed to do: educate our residents, and prepare them to change the world for the better.
When Dr. Crow and I envisioned the 21st Century University in the heart of downtown Phoenix, many people thought we were crazy. OK, many still do. But not the voters – or our great bond committee – or our City Council. We told all of those visionaries that a downtown campus would create an economic benefit before construction, during construction and long after construction ended. We promised it would not only bring new life to downtown, but it would also restore old buildings and build new ones. That it would bring students. And faculty. And staff. And a 21st Century energy. And all the things that make a university, a university. And as promised, it’s done all those things: Enrollment is up 42 percent, with 8,000 students, faculty and staff downtown. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications opened – with the freshman class growing by an amazing 45 percent. And the two big reasons, according to the Dean, are THIS beautiful building; and the fact that it’s in Downtown Phoenix. A $30 million dollar addition to the Nursing school just opened – as did the second tower at Taylor Place – that nearly 800 students now call home.
Some have said that ASU is our downtown “Sutter Mill” – where, in the 1840s, many miners stuck it rich with the gold nuggets they panned from the Creek. But ASU is much more than a few nuggets – it’s a gold mine. Because when you look beneath the surface — when you dig deeper – that’s where you strike the REAL gold.
And with ASU Downtown, Phoenix has hit the mother lode. We’ve struck REAL gold – (and a little maroon). And we’re just beginning.
There’s a classic line they teach in marketing class that cautions us to keep our eyes on the REAL ball. The line says: “When someone buys a hammer their goal isn’t to drive a few nails – their goal is to build something.” That’s an important lesson. We don’t invest in universities just to pound a few nails and hang a few doors. We build universities so thousands of graduates will be able to open thousands of their own doors.
Therefore, when we seek funding for universities, the goal is not to buy bricks and mortar, the goal is to move beyond even solar technology — creating clean, renewable energy from the simple motion of plants. To design smarter and greener cities. To advance and apply the science that will improve the quality AND the length of your life. The measure of a university isn’t what happens inside the four walls of a classroom. It’s what happens after students leave those four walls, and set out to change the world – and do.
That’s the end product. That’s why we invest in education. That’s why we focus on education. And it’s why communities with vision, communities like ours, support education.
Absolutely, ASU has brought excitement to downtown Phoenix. It’s brought students and professors. It’s attracted research grants, investment dollars, businesses, restaurants and galleries. And it’s sent a big signal to everyone – including our friends at CityScape – that for downtown, “Our Time is Now”.
Before I introduce you to today’s guest lecturer, let me tell you a few more things that I know about ASU, and why we should all care so much about it.
For starters, it is already creating over 2,500 good-paying jobs. Blue Collar. White Collar. Green Collar. That’s 2,500 families that can pay their bills and make purchases. And as we all know, “purchases = sales tax”. In fact, the construction phase of ASU downtown has produced more than Ten Million Dollars in state sales tax revenues from construction materials alone.
While our sales tax revenues have declined citywide, in downtown Phoenix, they are up by 13 percent. Those are the nuggets.
Now, for the gold mine: ASU has produced two Nobel laureates – one in 2004 and one just this year. Its freshman class is the largest and most academically qualified in university history. 31 percent were within the top 10 percent of their high school class – and 64 percent were in the top quarter.
ASU is in the top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars — producing 92 in the past 6 years.
612 National Merit Scholars enrolled at ASU last year and 324 National Hispanic Scholars.
This year, research expenditures exceeded $300 million dollars for the first time in ASU history. Research laboratory space increased by 72 percent and, near and dear to my own heart – ASU founded the nation’s very first School of Sustainability. And I promise you, the greatness of a city in the future will not be measured by square miles or population – a city’s greatness will be measured by its ability to sustain itself into the next Century.
Organizationally, ASU has added thirty-one new schools in the past 7 years – including:
The School of Sustainable Engineering. The School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering. The School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. The School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. And, of course, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication – right across the street.
By the way, Brian Williams is anchoring the national NBC Nightly news from the roof of the Cronkite building right about now. So let’s all make a lot of noise and let the country hear us in Downtown Phoenix !!!
These new schools will produce thousands of students with unique degrees in those areas. And those thousands of students – armed with their new and excellent education — will keep Phoenix AND Arizona competitive as we charge into this new Century – and sustain into the next.
ASU is such a unique University. It has great professors, great students and, according to TIME Magazine a Top Ten President in Dr. Michael Crow. Like Phoenix, rather than letting the future define us – ASU is defining the future – and shaping courses that will shape that future. That’s why we’re partners with ASU. And thanks to our city employees, my colleagues, Arizona State University and all of you, the future we shape together will be bigger, better and brighter.
It’s not just buildings. It’s everything. Take a look.
Last year, I suggested that we all needed to see downtown for ourselves. And we hopped on a light rail car and did. This year, I want you to HEAR for yourselves, why ASU Downtown matters. And for that, I’ve set up a little classroom here tonight – and have invited a guest lecturer to make a short presentation to this very important class. By the way, there WILL be a short test afterwards, so listen carefully.
Please welcome ASU’s Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs, Dr. Rick Shangraw.
Thank you so much Dr. Shangraw. Before I dismiss this class, let me end with a heartfelt and passionate plea for everyone who cares about this community, this state, and our shared future – to keep investing in education. You’ve just heard a little bit about what universities mean to our future.
You have heard for yourselves the wisdom of our investment in the downtown campus. You know the progress it has sparked. You see the good work being done by students, teachers and researchers.
We invest in universities to seek and build a better world. To find new cures. To perfect new technologies. To protect our fragile planet. We invest in universities because life is complex and intertwined – and we need well-educated people to solve those complexities and connect all those dots.
Thank you for continuing to support what we’re doing in education. Thank you for continuing to support what we’re doing downtown. And thank you all very much for joining us this evening.
Don’t forget to grab your recycled gift bag on the way out – remember to “Shop Phoenix” — and PLEASE drive safely.
And with that…class is dismissed.