By Scottsdale Pinetop
Over the years, long-time Scottsdale resident Bob Pejman has become one of the city’s leading voices when it comes to reforming Scottsdale’s parking code and has even impacted some of Scottsdale’s significant development projects.
Surrounded by art and culture from an early age, Bob Pejman is the son of an operatic composer and concert musician. He spent his early childhood in Vienna, eventually moving to the United States in 1976. By 1988, he had already owned and operated an art gallery in a New Jersey NYC suburb while selling his artwork to over 30 galleries nationwide. He moved to Scottsdale in 2007.
Pejman’s work can be found in many prestigious galleries as well as private collections throughout the world.
And he is no stranger when entering the political arena. He is a frequent commenter at City Council meetings speaking on issues such as downtown parking, encouraging tourism, supporting gallery owners and maintaining Scottsdale’s art district.
We had a chance to catch up with Bob Pejman to discuss his involvement in city politics, supporting the art community and his vision for Scottsdale’s future.
- What brought you to Scottsdale?
Around 2007 I decided to consolidate my art presence in a world-class Fine Arts destination. I had considered places such as Carmel, Naples FL, and Laguna Beach. Ultimately, I picked Scottsdale based on its rich history of being a fine arts destination as well as the City of Scottsdale being a very desirable and reasonable place to live compared to the high tax and overly congested New York Metro Area.
- You have been a major advocate for reforming Scottsdale’s current parking code and have spoken in both support and opposition to large development projects on the topic of parking. What changes would you like to see when it comes to parking in Downtown Scottsdale?
As a downtown merchant, I am primarily motivated with running a profitable business. All merchants are. I have rarely had issues with height and density for the ‘right’ project. Having said that, the merchants and property owners want the new projects to be ‘self parked’. In other words, they don’t want the beneficial impact of a new development to be negated by parking overflow/parking cannibalization.
To that end, I believe that it’s completely reasonable to expect the city’s parking code to require a ratio of 1 Guest Parking spot per X residential units in multifamily developments. Our current code has absolutely no Guest Parking requirements. I believe that’s completely out of touch with the reality of the existence of ‘guests’, service people, and their parking needs. Our code also only requires only one parking spot for each one-bedroom unit. It’s also unreasonable to expect that each one-bedroom unit will only have one person with one car living in them. Many of these units will be home to couples with more than one car.
In the old days when there wasn’t much new construction of multi-family developments in downtown, or when they were on a smaller scale, maybe you could get away with these deficient parking requirements, but when developments of 50 – 500 units are proposed routinely, the code’s deficiency sticks out like a sore thumb. Consequently, the resulting massive parking overflow of these new development, if not addressed, will cannibalize the city’s Public Parking spaces, be it public garages, or street parking spaces.
- Aside from parking concerns, what do you think the largest issue facing Scottsdale is?
Scottsdale has great prospects if weren’t for potential overdevelopment, average development, or rushed development. The overbuilding of tens of thousands of cookie-cutter apartment buildings will ultimately take away from our cachet as a premier luxury tourist destination.
- With the pandemic impacting small businesses the most, how have you and other galleries in Scottsdale adjusted to the current environment?
Each art gallery needs to increase their online presence and find new ways to reach out to their existing client base and cultivate new buyers. This can be done in a variety of ways, and it’s up to the ingenuity and tenacity of each gallery owner to survive during this unprecedented scene where qualified foot traffic is down by over 50%, especially given the hit tourism has taken.
Also, with thousands of multi-million-dollar homes being constructed and occupied in the valley, the galleries and the City of Scottsdale need to promote the Arts District locally to pull in affluent buyers all the way from North Scottsdale to Chandler and beyond, and not rely on tourist foot traffic as a primary source of business. The Scottsdale Arts District can be a huge draw to our valley residents if marketed properly.
- The arts and Scottsdale have long been synonymous with the city’s unique character. How can Scottsdale’s leaders, businesses and residents keep that reputation alive?
During the past couple of decades, the City of Scottsdale has taken its world-renowned Arts District for granted, and some elements in our City government have looked at the area to be redeveloped and hence not nurtured it. During this time, our city leaders have permitted a large amount of pop-up seasonal art shows to compete with the galleries during the precise time when the local galleries need to make their top sales to survive the off-season downtime and prosper. There needs to be a willingness and a robust marketing plan by the City and Experience Scottsdale to promote one of the country’s top Art Markets. Many of the gallery owners, including me, have lobbied hard for this to happen, but it has mostly fallen on deaf ears.
- What is your vision for Scottsdale’s future?
We will either remain a sought-after unique luxury destination and residential community, or we will become a city like Dallas. Most of the city’s current residents and merchants who moved to Scottdale, including me, had the option to move to a larger urban area but chose not to. Scottsdale can grow without destroying its original essence.