Picture This

Holding him in contempt: I read the article on Jerry Colangelo and his effort to build downtown ("Operation Mickey Mouse," John Dougherty, November 20). One very disturbing element is the outright contempt for Mr. Colangelo. Please, people, for once set your bruised ego aside and realize that, while people may not be flocking to downtown now, the only reason we even have what very little semblance of tourism there is is because of those three venues you despise. The very interesting fact that wasn't mentioned in the article: How many of these art galleries, museums, and so-called "flavor" have opened after America West Arena? And of the ones already there, you can't tell me that they haven't seen an increase in sales since the influx of two arenas and a theater!

Every downtown business owner needs to either shut up and come up with a plan or listen to what Colangelo has to say, because I will guarantee, once Jerry-ville opens, they won't be so unhappy when business is up more than 10,000 percent. Just a hunch, but not sure that another art gallery and museum will do the trick.

Big example is Mill Avenue. Mill used to be filled with crap! Homeless people sitting around, and it was just not a great place to go. Not until it added stores like the Gap, Gordon Biersch and other larger chains did it become a good combination of shopping and local flavor! And I think if you ask any "small business" down there, they don't mind selling out to the glitz and glitter as long as the people still keep coming. Now the homeless hanging in front of Coffee Plantation become "local flavor" and not dangerous as before.

Lastly, people in the city, and this country, for that matter, need to get over this outright jealousy of any business guy who hustles and makes money! You could tell me that if Jerry opens this, it will revive downtown and Jerry will make $1 billion a year off the deal! Fine. He did it. If you don't like the idea of Jerry making the money, then you do it, like he said in the article. Jerry is the only one who can get something done in this city, and instead of ripping him and fighting him, join in and see how you can maybe get a voice in and ride the coattails. Either that or schedule a meeting with the city and see where that gets you!

Thanks again for the interesting read.

Jon Rattray

Big fish, small pond: I think you brought out a lot of good points. Colangelo is a power-hungry, money-grubbing . . . you fill in the blank. I agree with Kimber Lanning that downtown's future lies in supporting small business and artists. Downtown Phoenix has always been dead; it has as much personality as a dead fish. The people of Phoenix have the choice of either making downtown into something they love and can be proud of or they can sit back and let it be turned into one sports mogul's fantasy. Jerry Colangelo wields entirely too much power. We need a city council with guts and a backbone.

Josette Umbertino

Field of dreams: You have been to the ballpark. I have been to the ballpark. I am really tired of hearing about all the wanna-bes in downtown Phoenix who want to be stars. I think "creating a funky" area so a lot of people can promote their own hobbies (i.e., art, photography, whatever) is a waste of the taxpayers' money. People want to see beautiful art, good sports, and real talent. Perfect example: Don't expect the people of Phoenix to pay for garbage like art and alcohol this weekend at the Icehouse. These people don't want real jobs. We all have talents or interests, but most of us don't expect other people to have to pay to see it!

Name withheld by request

Give the people what they want: While I applaud your ongoing insights into the causes of and potential solutions to the city's hollow core, you need not debate the impact of government projects, arts, retail, etc. The way to revitalize downtown comes in the form of a libation-filled glass, or a shaking ass.

I helped turn Denver's once-empty downtown into a bustling nighttime destination. I didn't own a business, run a club or serve on any quasi-government panel. I, along with my friends, simply drove in from the suburbs almost every week to have fun. No matter where people lived in the metro area, they would drive into downtown because they could walk from place to place, taking in a variety of scenes, from sports bars to martini shops, dance clubs and original dives. A person could shoot pool, listen to jazz, dance to techno, sample microbrews, and visit a dozen other scenes within a few short blocks. The baseball stadium and light-rail helped, but the seeds were already planted and growing. For the most part, these suburbanites didn't go to shop or buy art. They went to eat, drink and be merry.

If downtown Phoenix is to thrive, it needs a cluster of nightlife options to draw in the folks from the 'burbs. An area where folks can pop into one place, check the vibe, then go next door or across the street for a change of scene. A social buffet. Retail, galleries and other businesses will follow. Success lies not in master planning and grand projects. It lies in the ability to satisfy the people's need to chill, groove, party, hang, sweat, swoon, score or simply people-watch, and to offer all these options in a nearby area. That's worth a drive to the city.

Jonathan Evans

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