Guest Editorial: Keep Calm and Carry On

By The Happy Wanderer

Downtown Scottsdale merchants have played an extremely critical role in our city’s economy for decades. The art galleries that line the streets in the Arts District attract tourists from across the world and are embedded in the fabric of Scottsdale’s culture.

Though each gallery and store in the Arts District sells different wares, one thing does unite each merchant: they face an issue with a shortage of adequate parking for their clients.

In an editorial that was published earlier this week in The Scottsdale Progress, French Thompson, the president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association, explains why the parking shortage may be exacerbated if Museum Square, a project that will convert the abandoned Loloma transit station into a magnificent mixed-use master plan development between Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Stagebrush Theatre and Scottsdale Artist’s School, moves forward.

We’re unabashed supporters of it. Joining us in our support of this groundbreaking project are several of Mr. Thompson’s gallery brethren, including the Larsen Gallery and the Legacy Gallery, and the Scottsdale Gallery Association itself. Macdonald Development Corporation, the company behind Museum Square, recognizes the impact that the project could have on parking in the vicinity.

Instead of ignoring vital voices like Mr. Thompson’s, Macdonald is stepping up, taking the initiative and doing all it can to answer their questions, even though the primary obligation belongs to the City of Scottsdale. Finding a parking spot in downtown can be migraine-inducing. However, Museum Square won’t contribute to drivers’ headaches. In fact, Macdonald Development Corporation, the company behind Museum Square, may even provide the ibuprofen we need by helping to cure the situation. 

Before we get into the parking solutions, we want to reintroduce a phrase of historic significance to help settle everyone’s nerves. That phrase is, “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.” This was the same advice the British government imparted upon its citizens after the outbreak of World War II and posters bearing the message could be found everywhere across Great Britain in the early 1940s. This rallying cry played an important role in ensuring that pandemonium did not break out in British cities.

What steps is Macdonald taking to address parking challenges? They truly are extensive.

The first parking solution is for Museum Square employees, specifically those who will be working at the proposed luxury hotel. Macdonald will work with Evolution Hospitality, a company that manages nearly 800 hotels and resort properties across the United States, to gather comprehensive parking data. Once it does, it will implement a thorough and exhaustive parking solution, that will be shared with area merchants for input and enhancements.

Next, Macdonald is not only providing as much as parking as the Scottsdale code mandates, it is going above and beyond what the city requires. Specifically, it will include extensive guest parking and service vehicle parking. Indeed, one parking study found that Museum Square increases on-street parking in the Main Street area by 161% with 15 additional on-street angled parking stalls and 22 additional on street parallel parking stalls in the immediate area.

Macdonald is also devoting attention to any parking complications that may arise during Museum Square’s construction. Unlike the false narrative of some critics, Museum Square isn’t being constructed all at once. Museum Square will be built out across four phases. During each phase of construction, Macdonald will devote vacant land it owns solely for construction. Simply put, construction workers won’t be parking in front of galleries and then walking over to the construction site.

Another solution has been proposed by Councilmember Suzanne Klapp. Macdonald supports her suggestion to use funds from the proceeds of Museum Square’s land sale to construct a parking garage on 1st Avenue for additional parking.

Macdonald will also seek a commitment from the City of Scottsdale for an increase in parking enforcement during Museum Square’s construction.

Finally, there can be increased signage in the area to promote use of the Museum of the West’s underutilized parking garage.

Should all these plans not satisfy those who are worried, there’s a municipal panacea that hasn’t been discussed too often. The City of Scottsdale itself can take the initiative to alleviate any perceived parking shortage. Indeed, the city has the funds and the ability to build a single level of parking underneath the Stagebrush Theatre parking lot! This isn’t a novel concept. That’s exactly what Scottsdale did at the Southbridge development several years ago, when it dug deep (figuratively and literally) and built two levels of public underground parking.

So, let’s all take a deep breath, work together as a community and keep calm and carry on. Effective solutions are on the way and Museum Square is well worth the effort.