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Keeping Scottsdale Special: Special Treatment For Special Places

About a decade ago far north Scottsdale saw Rawhide relocate to the Gila River Indian Community.  The property now houses a Sprouts, strip center and nursing home.

The venerable Scottsdale watering hole Greasewood Flat is set to be replaced this year with houses, as is Pinnacle Peak Patio.

And while its special nature can be questioned The Borgata was certainly an interesting space.  It’s now going to be condominiums.

All of these properties had compelling reasons for evolution but it’s a fair to ask if Scottsdale is the better for it?

Most would say not. So that begs another question.  Should special Scottsdale places receive special treatment to stay as they are?

Yes.  Perhaps. Maybe. We hope so.

For example, if the Coach House and Rusty Spur go away for the non-descript is Scottsdale enriched?  Perhaps financially but not socially, culturally.  That’s why the activists that sought to keep and preserve an old church now city owned on Indian School Road should be applauded.

Republicans, and Scottsdale is a city full of them, typically don’t like “subsidies” where elected officials get to offer goodies for specific companies to come to town.  Well, what about efforts to keep certain ones that help define its personality.

This could take the form of tax breaks, reimbursements, fee waivers and even city marketing assets for certain businesses and properties specifically reviewed and vetted, first by a citizen’s committee then by a council.  

Some may say this too is an inappropriate picking of winners and losers, and why should all taxpayers essentially be responsible for the special treatment of others.   And that is a fair point worth debating.  But it is also fair to observe that if a community loses too many of its special places it may cease being picked by tourists, businesses and residents.

What is an example of going too far?  Not too far across Scottsdale’s western border sits the David Wright House in Arcadia.  A couple of years ago someone purchased it to preserve rather than see it demolished.  Good.  But then that person has subsequently engaged in his best Walt Disney impression turning a single house into a much bigger and commercial play for WrightLand, in contravention of the things the designer, Frank Lloyd Wright, held dear.  Bad.

In keeping those things that are special others should not be made to suffer.  Like the many Arcadia neighbors who adamantly oppose this commercial subsidy of a different kind.

We hope Scottsdale will consider a new program to identify and assist those places that make it special, avoiding the acrimonious and unfortunate lessons in Arcadia.    Such a  move would be in the best tradition of a city known for innovative approaches.  The City Council should be applauded for taking the unanimous steps it did recently to aid the McDowell Road Corridor.  It would likely be applauded again for taking additional steps for special places outside of this area too.

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