Jerry's World

Jerry Colangelo and his pals have gobbled up the lion’s share of public development dollars. If downtown’s to be saved, City Hall’s got to share the wealth.

Jerry Colangelo, the DPP and their lapdog, the city, fail to realize the potential that exists in older neighborhoods, she argues.

"I'm really tired of the kind of development they do where they look at existing uses in neighborhoods as obstacles to be overcome instead of benefits to be integrated into the development they are getting ready to do."

The city, she says, could help spur redevelopment in older areas by simply improving sidewalks, putting up streetlights and planting trees.

After reaping $300 million in public subsidies for his downtown edifices, Phoenix's sports mogul's poised to direct  the next wave of downtown development: infill.
Jackie Mercandetti
After reaping $300 million in public subsidies for his downtown edifices, Phoenix's sports mogul's poised to direct the next wave of downtown development: infill.
Under the direction of outgoing Mayor Skip Rimsza, the city has dutifully implemented Colangelo's downtown developments.
Jackie Mercandetti
Under the direction of outgoing Mayor Skip Rimsza, the city has dutifully implemented Colangelo's downtown developments.

Moore isn't just a cranky artist who likes to complain. She knows first hand how the DPP operates, having served on its board for two years in the early 1990s. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

"I was taken as a token arts representative," she says. "I didn't feel comfortable on that board because I felt I wasn't taken seriously."

Although many in the arts community want the city to get involved in a positive way -- that is start sharing taxpayer money that has traditionally gone to Colangelo and the DPP -- Moore says it would be best if city government stayed out of her neighborhood.

"Leave us alone!" she says. "We don't want the city over here. We are just better off letting what's happening here happen on its own."

About the Partnership, she says, "I wouldn't really want to go to a meeting even if they invited me to one. I don't trust them."

The city's decision to join the Partnership in its effort to put Cardinals Stadium downtown was the final straw for her. The location picked was once again an area where artists were beginning to create a vibrant scene.

"It's shocking to me that they can claim that they didn't know there were artists in that neighborhood," she says about the Partnership and the city. "Either they are very out of touch with what is going on in their downtown, or else they figured they could just railroad [artists] out because nobody would make a stink about it."

And why shouldn't they. That's exactly what's been done in the past.

Moore fears that city and Partnership backed efforts like the biotechnology project won't be good for artists and middle-income families.

"It's going to be another upscale playground for yuppies," she says.

Already, the city is working with a private developer to build 105 lofts just north of the biotechnology project at Seventh and Roosevelt streets that will have an average sale price of $175,000 -- which, Moore says, few people now living in the neighborhood can afford.

"You can see the kind of direction they are going in," she says.

Moore is skeptical about sudden pronouncements by the city, the Partnership and Colangelo that diversification is needed downtown. A task force sponsored by several Phoenix philanthropic organizations and headed by prominent developer Drew Brown is coming up with a plan to integrate the arts community into downtown, but Moore says Brown's group has yet to contact grassroots artists living in the area.

"They haven't taken the arts seriously, and I really don't think they will now," she says.

Embracing a revisionist history that doesn't bring up the early arts pogroms to make way for the arena, jail and county administration building, Kearney and Colangelo respond that the DPP has always strongly supported the arts community.

"I think we have a very good relationship with the arts community that has continued to improve over the last several years," Kearney says.

Colangelo cites purchases by his developments at Bank One Ballpark and America West of more than $1.3 million in art, not necessarily from artists here, as evidence of his support of the local arts community.

"I've been with the Partnership from day one," Colangelo says. "I don't believe the Partnership has ever engaged itself in ever doing intentionally any harm to the arts community. Period."

He declared, "I encourage the arts community to take the bull by the horns and come together and really represent themselves [so that] they are not the forgotten lot here."

Unifying the arts community and developing a strong leadership voice is easier said than done.

Greg Esser, co-owner of the Eye Lounge on East Roosevelt, says most artists are swamped with work and trying to eek out a living. They don't have a $2-million-a-year organization like the Downtown Phoenix Partnership to promote their interests.

"If we had the financial resources that the DPP has," Esser sneers, "we would have smashed the bull into the ground."

Nothing has done more damage to the Downtown Phoenix Partnership's image than its vigorous effort in early 2002 to build Cardinals Stadium downtown.

At the time, the city was also feverishly working to attract a biotechnology consortium to locate its headquarters in the same area where the Partnership wanted to build the stadium.

City officials knew the stadium project was a financial loser, while the biotechnology center held promise to be an economic grand slam.

"From my perspective, bar none, [the biotechnology project] is the most important economic development project the city has ever engaged in," Vice Mayor Stanton told New Times in February 2002.

Yet the Partnership, along with another powerful business group chaired by Colangelo, the Phoenix Community Alliance, was pushing the plan -- which was strongly supported by the Arizona Republic -- to build the stadium between Fourth and Seventh streets and Fillmore and Roosevelt.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets