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Mr. Smith Goes To Outer Space

Recently, Scottsdale Councilman David Smith lambasted SkySong and its purported voracious appetite for city favor.  But in criticizing process and politic he seemed to ignore purpose and triumph.

Once upon a time Scottsdale and McDowell was the heartbeat of the southern city.  There stood Los Arcos Mall.  Then time passed it by.  Scottsdale Fashion Square ascended.

Various plans from hockey arenas to power centers promised renewal.  They didn’t materialize.  So ASU took a chance on the area with an “innovation” focus.  At a time when strip clubs and pawn shops were the most notable neighbors it was no small leap of faith.

Sure, SkySong took awhile to find its voice.  But now the chorus of buildings is impressive, as is its design.  It’s evolved over the years as any large project does and must.  To not allow the private sector to call audibles is to be an archair municipal coach of the wishbone.  That SkySong now includes housing is entirely understandable for students and employees that want to be near where they work.  Indeed, the unrelated Mark/Taylor Residential multi-family project nearby on McDowell has been so successful it’s acquiring nearby properties for more parking. 

Across from SkySong has sprung the area’s first microbrewery.  And SkySong itself has announced a new venture with a reputable local developer to bring in a number of new restaurants, something local residents have sought for years.  More people are moving into the area as car dealers move to freeway environs.  Property values in south Scottsdale are rising.

Isn’t this exactly what people hoped SkySong would catalyze? Indeed, the project is not so much an office project anymore as a broader village.  This should be welcome news.

Councilman Smith is an exceptional nitpicker of minutiae, thank goodness.  That’s been his job for most of his life in the private sector.  City councils need people like Smith to attend to details others might miss.  But in tending to the garden the same people can’t be oblivious to the blooming flowers.  It’s been over 20 years since southern Scottsdale enjoyed a really good spring.  But it’s finally arrived, in no small part to the risk takers at SkySong.

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