Signs of the Times

John Shadegg, Other Moon Valley Elitists Trying to Keep Goodwill Out of the Neighborhood

Some homeowners in the North Phoenix country-club enclave of Moon Valley can't believe that Goodwill is trying to open a retail store in their neighborhood.

A few of the residents, like former Republican U.S. Congressman John Shadegg, are rallying others to demand City of Phoenix officials not allow Goodwill to open the store at the former location of an AJ's Fine Foods store, at Seventh Street and Thunderbird Road.

"This is a great opportunity to let the city know we don't appreciate what they have done to us and to demand that they do whatever it takes to stop the store in our neighborhood from ever opening," Shadegg says in an e-mail thread between Moon Valley residents, which was obtained by New Times.

Shadegg, now a partner at the Steptoe & Johnson law firm, did not return a message left on his phone last week.

One woman heavily involved in the circulating e-mails actually went to all of the north Phoenix Goodwill stores, and shared pictures in an obvious attempt to make a point that Goodwill stores invite seedy businesses and people. There's a special emphasis on "smoke shops" located near Goodwill stores.

Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates, who represents Moon Valley as part of his district and has been involved in the conversations between Goodwill and the neighborhood residents, tells New Times one of the residents' primary concerns is property values. He said some residents have called this potential Goodwill store the "gateway into Moon Valley moving onto Seventh Street."

"They want that [shopping] center to be as well-positioned as possible," he says.

In reality, where some of these residents don't appear to live, Moon Valley's a little different than it used to be. Perhaps the recession already murdered their home values, not a charity's prospective retail store. The Moon Valley County Club and its golf course have been in bankruptcy proceedings for some time. And, as one Moon Valley resident who wished to remain anonymous pointed out, this crop of residents couldn't even keep the age-old AJ's store open.

"Apparently the neighborhood isn't elite enough to support a fine-food-and-wines establishment," he says. "There's a dollar store several shops down. How did they let that get in?"

Still, the residents seem heated about this store, as Goodwill has apparently signed a lengthy lease agreement in the old AJ's location.

It's described in the e-mails as "INCOMPATIBLE with the current tenants of the [shopping center] and the surrounding residential areas and neighborhoods."

It's "completely inappropriate," according to an e-mail spread by "neighborhood advocate" Amy Mais. The retail stores around other Phoenix Goodwill stores are "very troubling" and "of the lowest possible quality."

"More concerning, was the complete absence of any retail that would be of value to Moon Valley residents," she continues. "We did not see any nice grocery stores, restaurants, or destination spots for families with children. If Goodwill moves into Moon Valley, the shops, restaurants, and services that our community wants and needs, will close up or relocate. They will be replaced by low end retail that is not appropriate for our neighborhood."

An online petition with more than 800 signatures provides many of the same sentiments.

Vice Mayor Gates says this saga will end one of two ways -- either Goodwill could agree to a different tenant going into the space, or Moon Valley's gettin' a Goodwill.

Gates says it appears that Goodwill is open to the idea of sub-leasing the location to a new tenant, if everyone agrees on it, and the talks are still ongoing.

Moon Valley resident e-mails suggest that they're trying hard to get Trader Joe's to put one of its specialty grocery stores in the location, naturally.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.