On Saturday, February 21st, Artlink Inc., in partnership with Downtown Phoenix Inc.hosted the Art d’Core Gala at Crescent Ballroom. This celebration of downtown Phoenix’s artists and creatives featured Mayor Greg Stanton giving his second annual “Celebrate Downtown” address. It served as a festive kick-off to Artlink’s Art Detour 27, March 7-8, 2015.

Below is a transcript and video of the Mayor’s address.

Celebrate Downtown Address, February 21, 2015

The excitement in this room – the energy tonight – is remarkable.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt Crescent Ballroom so alive.

What I love about this event is that it’s such a reflection of our downtown community: a collaboration of people and organizations working together to create something amazing.

Catrina Kahler and Artlink … Dave Kreitor and Downtown Phoenix, Inc. … Charlie Levy and Crescent Ballroom … and Phoenix Theatre! How great was that performance?! … It takes a lot of great minds to bring this event to life, and I’m glad those minds are always working to make our community a better place.

This has become one of my favorite events of the year – and I’m so happy that we are together again to celebrate Downtown!

Last year we talked about downtown’s story: our humble beginnings, our biggest challenges, where we started and where we’ve been.  Also about where we are headed: toward a shared vision for a vibrant, walkable, livable downtown where education, the arts and commerce thrive.

Photo by NBMA Photography, courtesy of Artlink Inc.

Setting a New Economic Course

We’re getting there by putting our economy on a new course so that we can compete with other regions across the country and around the world.  I’ve made it my priority to build an innovation-based, export economy that lifts everyone up – and that starts right here in downtown.

Downtown is more than our urban core – it is the heart of our great city.  The components necessary to build the economy we need are coming together right here.

We’re bringing more people to a central place with a robust transit system.  We’re teaching students at ASU, U of A and NAU, and training the next generation of physicians and biomedical engineers.  We’re carving out new space for entrepreneurs, tech startups and makers to create and innovate.

These things aren’t just attractive to millenials and urbanistas.  They’re necessary for us to lead in today’s global economy.

A Vibrant Downtown

But a great public transportation system, more education options and flourishing small businesses?  Those also happen to be the ingredients that are transforming downtown into the lively, urban community we all want.

Another ingredient?  A City Council that understands smart policies and investments in infrastructure such as light rail pay long-term dividends.  I want to thank my great partners on the council who understand that a stronger downtown means a stronger city.

I know the whole world saw how great things were for the successful Super Bowl, but all of us here know that hardly scratches the surface of the amazing things going on downtown.

  • Last year, we broke ground on more than 1 million square-feet of commercial space including two hotels and two higher education buildings;

  • With our Complete Streets policy, we’re changing the city’s reputation of planning predominately for cars;

  • We renovated space for aspiring artists at the new ASU Herberger Institute studios in the Warehouse District;

  • We launched Grid Bike Share throughout Central Phoenix – broadening options for getting around without a car;

  • We welcomed newcomers to our downtown dining directory – Bitter and Twisted, Mother Bunch Brewery, Grabba Green, Short Leash’s Rollover Donuts, and much more…

  • Because we created Downtown Phoenix, Inc two years ago, we were able to make new friends on the Urban Ale Trail, at Radiate Phoenix and Kalliope’s mobile dance party;

  • We set a new standard for music festivals with Viva Phoenix – and we’re counting down the days until 80 bands take over 20 downtown venues this March.

This is what happens when we have a community as motivated and energized as all of you in this room.

Downtown’s Tipping Point

But here’s what I’m excited about: this is just the beginning.  We laid out our vision; we put in the work; and now, downtown has reached its tipping point.  We’re about to see what momentum really looks like.

This year we’ll complete street improvements that will make Roosevelt Row more engaging and welcoming to pedestrians – and more shaded! – than ever before.

We’re activating sidewalks and street corners in new, fresh ways.  Carly’s, Bitter and Twisted and La Piazza PHX are all extending to new sidewalk-patio seating.  DeSoto Central Market in the historic DeSoto Building will transform Central and Roosevelt into a new destination for food, shops and social experiences.

We’re welcoming new forward-thinking tenants.  The restoration of the Luhrs City Center attracted fast-growing startup Giftcard Zen to open offices in the historic tower.  And soon they’ll be joined by as many as eight new startups through a partnership with Tallwave’s business incubator.

The city’s investments in the biomedical campus are paying off: The U of A and St. Joe’s Cancer Center will open this fall and begin delivering world-class health care.  Some of the most advanced medical research is already happening right now in our own backyard – it’s amazing.

Our momentum is bringing new restaurants and commerce downtown, and it’s igniting an entire sector of innovation and discovery.

A Toast to Downtown

In honor of all our progress and all we have to look forward to – I’d like to propose a toast.  Catrina and Dave, you should get back up here on stage.

Here’s to Downtown Phoenix.  Where our First Fridays, our music festivals, our Meet Me Downtown events, and our pop-up parks get bigger and better every month.

To the artists … the students … the entrepreneurs … the bicyclists … the foodies … the business owners … the transit riders … the residents … the visionaries … who have shaped a culture and created a community unlike any other.

This isn’t the downtown Phoenix we’ve been waiting for – it’s the downtown we’ve been working for.