The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is proud to announce the launch of a yearlong, comprehensive identity building exercise to create positive momentum for the continued revitalization of Southern Scottsdale and the McDowell Road Corridor specifically. 

SGA has partnered with the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority to connect with thousands of local residents and business owners to gather community input and create a dialogue that will lead to the development of a new brand, create a sense of “place” and generate renewed pride in our community.

SGA hopes to talk to thousands of residents to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the project and have their voice heard. In order to accomplish this, we need your help.

SGA is currently seeking volunteers to help with the grassroots outreach efforts. Volunteers will be asked to talk to and engage with people in their neighborhood, at local parks, coffee shops, retail stores, businesses, and civic and social clubs in the area. The goal is for our volunteers to recruit friends, neighbors, (and sometimes complete strangers) to participate in the branding exercise.

If you are interested in volunteering for this community project, please reply to this message or email

Justin Sayers, The Republic |

Groupon plans to host a job fair next week to fill 100 sales positions at its recently opened Scottsdale location, the company announced.

The global e-commerce marketplace is looking have about 160 employees at its office in SkySong by the end of September. The company opened a branch in the Valley in February and moved into its current location on Friday.

Representatives from Groupon will be interviewing candidates Monday through Friday at SkySong 1, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, company spokesman Nicholas Halliwell said. Interested candidates can fill out an application online at to sign up for a time slot.

“We’re looking for folks with really strong negotiating skills and diligence and experience,” he said, noting the positions will focus on building relationships with local merchants.

The company also announced today that Diana Vowels was hired as site manager for the location. She most recently worked for Deem, a cloud and mobile commerce company.

“For me, this was a fantastic opportunity with a growing, dynamic company,” said Vowels, who worked for Gannett Co., Inc., parent company of The Arizona Republicand, for nearly 20 years, including three years at The Republic. “I jumped at the opportunity to join Groupon.”

The SkySong operation is the only company sales office outside of the Groupon headquarters in Chicago. Groupon executives hope the branch can help expand business relationships on this side of the country.

Groupon operated out of a temporary location at 2575 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix before moving into 16,000 square feet of space in SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, last week. Half of the office is still under construction but should be completed within the next month.

“The SkySong space is filled with a lot of tech companies and a lot of innovation-focused companies,” Vowels said. “It’s perfect for the Groupon culture.”

The company chose Phoenix partially because of the popularity of the e-commerce marketplace in the area. Phoenix ranks among Groupon’s 10 most popular markets, Vowels said.

Roughly 3,000 deals are offered at a time, and more than 15,000 Valley merchants have been featured.

“Having a Phoenix presence helps us cover the Western time zone, so that we can expand our relationships with businesses in the Western part of the U.S.,” Vowels said.

Vowels described the company as “fun” and “quirky,” noting that, “It’s a company that is very serious but doesn’t take itself very seriously.”

“We still have that dynamic and energy of a startup, but yet we have the power of a well-known brand,” she said.

Groupon, founded in 2008, had nearly 48.1 million active customers as of March, including 24.6 million in North America, Halliwell said. The number of active deals globally was 425,000 as of March, including 200,000 in North America.

The positions are salary-plus-commission-based and “definitely” pay above the living wage, Vowels said. Employees who excel in their job could earn upward of $60,000 a year, she said.

Employees also are eligible for benefits, such as unlimited vacation time.

“We’re actively searching for talent, and we will take them as quickly as we find them,” she said.

Groupon is a “marketplace of deals ranging from local businesses to restaurants,” Halliwell said. Top sellers are salons and spas, food and beverage, and things to do.

Deals are accessible online, but more than half of deals are completed on the company’s mobile app, Halliwell said.

The company bases technology functions on the West Coast in offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Palo Alto.

The energy and enthusiasm surrounding the revitalization of McDowell Corridor has not gone unnoticed.  Phoenix Magazine has identified Southern Scottsdale/Skysong as one of the “10 Hottest Neighborhoods of 2020” for living and investment.  Citing natural resources, local amenities and “next-gen biz”, Southern Scottsdale joins the ranks of Scottsdale Airpark and Mesa Eastmark as a few of the hottest cities in the Valley five years from now.

SGA’s board chair, Jeff Bergoff shared his vision for the future of McDowell Road with the article’s author Keridwen. You can read the entire article below and see who else made the cut for “Hottest Neighborhoods of 2020”.


Why It Will Be Hot: Next-gen biz, Gen X aesthetic appeal For years, innovation hub SkySong – and its South Scottsdale surrounds – were growing at the speed of dial-up. Now, they’ve gone broadband. About 90 percent leased with cutting-edge companies like Theranos and Pyxl, SkySong recently debuted sleek apartments and a third office building. In 2016, they’ll open a fourth tower, plus 12,000 feet for retail and three restaurants. But across the street, Papago Plaza is the Woody to SkySong’s Buzz Lightyear. That may change soon: The center is in escrow, and rumor has it the new owners may give it a 21st-century makeover. “I understand they are renovating it, but keeping the good tenants, like Papago Brewing,” says Megan Berry of The Investor Hub, a firm that guides clients to investment opportunities in emerging neighborhoods.

To the south, car dealerships are vamoosing. One is transforming into Las Aguas apartments; another now houses landscape design company Berghoff Design Group. Jeff Berghoff sees a sea change coming to SoSco: “I think it’s going to turn into this cool, hipster area [with] a young urban vibe [for] millennials or 20-somethings, 30-somethings that want to have a family.” He touts the area’s mid-century modern homes, especially in the Hy-View neighborhood, as being ripe for design-minded Gen Xers.

Local Attractions: Bike along the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt (, which unfurls for 11 miles, then sip a cold one at Fate Brewing, slated to open this summer in a beer-barrel-inspired building (1312 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480-994-1275,


Parker Leavitt, The Republic |


South Scottsdale’s iconic SkySong complex — an office and residential hub known for its pointed, tentlike canopy — wants to become a destination for local food enthusiasts with plans for three or four new restaurants to open by fall 2016.

Wetta Ventures, the local developer that brought Postino and Snooze to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus last year, wants to anchor a new SkySong restaurant building with a locally-owned “farm-to-table” concept.

The restaurant would be surrounded by a 3,000-square-foot garden producing fruit, vegetables and flowers and a 7,500-square-foot covered patio and open space for diners and the public to enjoy, developer David Wetta told The Republic.

The 12,000-square-foot building, planned near Scottsdale and McDowell roads, could also have space for a coffee or juice shop, a specialty restaurant and a fast-casual option, Wetta said.

The garden will be professionally installed and maintained and will likely yield more than enough produce for the adjacent restaurants, Wetta said. The structure itself will feature a modern design built with steel, concrete and glass.

“Any of these projects that have a sense of place — that special feeling when you walk in — it’s all in the detail,” Wetta said. “People want to go to interesting places … they want something unique.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2016, with the restaurants open by the following September or October, Wetta said.

While a big-name restaurant tenant would likely attract “foodies” from around the Valley, the complex will also benefit from a built-in customer base with around 1,600 employees working at the SkySong complex.

Developed by Plaza Cos. in partnership with Scottsdale and Arizona State University, SkySong opened its first two buildings in 2008 and is currently in the midst of a growth spurt.

Scottsdale owns the 42-acre property but has entered into a long-term ground lease with the ASU Foundation, which subleases property to master-developer Plaza Cos., Plaza CEO Sharon Harper said.

A third office building opened at SkySong earlier this year and is about 90 percent leased, Harper said. The first two buildings are about 99 percent leased, she said. An announcement on the fourth SkySong office building is likely to come within a month, she said.

The 325-unit SkySong Apartments complex was finished in early 2014 and is now home to nearly 500 residents.

SkySong currently offers about 450,000 square feet of office, but that figure could climb to about 1.2 million square feet once the project is completely built out.

Over a 30-year period, the complex could generate more than 5,000 jobs, nearly $300 million in taxes and fees within Maricopa County and more than $9 billion in total economic impact, according to a 2013 study from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

The development’s success has drawn national attention, with groups coming from cities like Las Vegas and Orlando to see what’s happening and scout ideas for projects back home, Harper said.

Part of what makes the complex unique is the ability for companies and employees to interact with each other while enjoying access to ASU resources, including meeting rooms and a 450-seat conference center, Harper said.

But while conducting focus groups among SkySong employees, Plaza found a desire for more on-site restaurants, where workers could meet over a meal or coffee.

For Wetta, the proximity to daytime employment is one of three elements that makes SkySong a strong location for restaurant development. The area also boasts high traffic counts, with Scottsdale/McDowell being the third busiest intersection along the Scottsdale Road corridor, he said. Lastly, the neighborhood has good residential density, he said.

The Transportation Master Plan was unanimously adopted by the Scottsdale City Council on January 8, 2008. Its implementation program was adopted by the Scottsdale City Council on January 13, 2009.

2008 Scottsdale Transportation Master Plan

The Master Plan is the first comprehensive look at the city’s entire transportation system since the 1980s.  The Transportation Master Plan works from the goals outlined in the city’s 2001 General Plan to identify specific projects and programs to address transportation needs and objectives.  The Master Plan includes:

  • An overall citywide transportation policy element.
  • Updated or new plans for streets, transit, bicycles, and pedestrians, how to coordinate these modes of transportation and the connections, gaps, and linkages between them.
  • Special circulation area studies for the Downtown/Central Scottsdale area, the Airpark area, and the northern areas of the city.
  • A recommendation to participate in regional studies of high capacity transit.
  • An implementation program for future improvements.

Public invited to comment on city’s draft transportation plan

The public is invited to comment on the first draft of a new Transportation Master Plan for Scottsdale. The public can learn more about the plan and provide feedback at a series of meetings that begin tonight and continue through November. The Transportation Master Plan provides a vision and guide to the community’s residents, businesses, and officials as Scottsdale’s transportation system grows and develops in the future. Public meetings, hosted by the city’s Transportation Commission, will be at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Kiva, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd on the following dates:

  • Thursday, May 7 – Transit Element
  • Thursday, June 4 – Streets Element
  • Thursday, June 18 – Bicycle Element
  • Thursday, Aug. 20 – Pedestrian Element
  • Thursday, Sept. 3 – General Discussion
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 – Streets Element
  • Thursday, Oct. 15 – General Discussion
  • Thursday, Nov. 19 – Final Discussion and Recommendation

Channel 11 will televise meetings live. Based on the input received, a final plan will be prepared for adoption by the City Council. Learn more about the plan and how you can provide input.


Seeing McDowell Road Revitalization

Over the last year, there have been noticeable improvements and growth throughout Southern Scottsdale — particularly along the McDowell Road Corridor. SGA has created important partnerships and worked to keep our community connected to support the revitalization efforts. Here is the latest article highlighting the positive changes in the McDowell Corridor.

See the latest article from the Arizona Republic here: McDowell Road continues resurgence in Scottsdale

A Giant Valley Bike Month

During last week’s Arizona Bike Week, city streets were flooded with the sounds of roaring motorcycle engines.  But April is Valley Bike Month and caters to a much quieter brand of bikers: bicyclists.

Sponsored by Valley Metro, the annual Valley Bike Month features guided public art rides, family rides, festivals, ‘bike-to-work’ days, and even a bike prom.

Cycling enthusiasts like Cindy Lacotta are already geared up for Bike Month – but, in truth, every month is Bike Month for her. Cindy pedals her bicycle to work every day,  commuting along the SRP canal from Gilbert to Scottsdale and back,  a 40-mile round trip.

Cindy is the store manager at Giant Scottsdale, a unique bicycle shop on the corner of Thomas Road and 68th Street that sells Giant bicycles and gear exclusively. Cindy is also proud to show-off the large section of the store dedicated to Liv, a sister product line of bicycles and apparel designed specifically for women.

Although Giant is a global brand, Scottsdale Giant is a locally owned by Richard Marquis, or “Rick” as his employees call him.  Rick originally owned and operated Javelina Cycles in Ahwatukee and opened Giant in Southern Scottsdale a little more than a year ago.  The shop’s location has easy access to the canal and a number of side streets and bike paths that make the area very bicycle-friendly – especially for Giant employees.  Many of them, a couple of whom don’t even own a car, regularly ride their bikes to work.

Cindy smiles sheepishly when asked how many bikes she owns. She takes a moment to visualize the stable of bikes parked in her garage (the cars are parked in the driveway). “About 15, I think,” she calculates with a laugh.

A friendly atmosphere and top-notch customer service is a priority at Giant. “When you sell a bike, you have control over the experience of the customer,” says Cindy. “You don’t have control over their first ride. And if it’s a bad experience, you don’t just lose a customer, cycling loses a customer.”

Cindy beams with enthusiasm about cycling, particularly when she describes how she shares the cycling culture with her customers.

“They come back after their first bike race and they’re so excited and they share every detail of it with you. I have customers come in and lift up their shirts, showing off their weight loss.”

Giant employees agree that cycling is a feasible means of transportation in the Valley and the number of bike paths, canal routes and quiet side streets provide scenic rides that also avoid dangerous intersections.

Cindy says that cycling is something people can do year-round, even in the sweltering heat of summer because the air is always moving. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choice,” she says, adding that safety, whether it’s from heat, cold, or cars, is always a priority.

Feel like trying cycling? Join Giant during Bike Month for an introduction to mountain biking, a flat fixing clinic or tag-along on a group ride. Click here for more details.

El Dorado: Southern Scottsdale’s Premier Park

There’s no place that captures the character of Southern Scottsdale better than El Dorado Park – the first major park that was built in our city.

El Dorado Park, which stretches from just north of Oak Street to McKellips Road and runs adjacent to Miller Road, was created in 1967.  The park was actually the prototype for the Indian Bend Wash greenbelt on which construction started in 1973.

Besides being Scottsdale’s oldest park, El Dorado is also the most unique one in our city’s sprawling park system.  In addition to the standard ball fields, volleyball courts and picnic areas, El Dorado has a Frisbee competition course and skate park.  The 20,000 square-foot skate park called Wedge Skate Park incorporates state-of-the-art features that challenge even the most skilled skateboarding daredevils. It also provides kids with a safe place to practice their biking, skateboaring and rollerblading skills.

This Saturday the 15th Annual Wedge Skateboard Competition will be held starting at 10:30 a.m.

Non-participants of all ages are welcome to stop by and watch four different categories of contestants demonstrate their amazing mid-air maneuvers. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the site near the McDowell Road Bridge. For more information and to register in advance (recommended), click here.

There’s always something happening at El Dorado Park.  People and pets … friends and families … young and old … all contribute to the charm and character of Southern Scottsdale’s premier park.


Residents enjoying El Dorado Park in Southern Scottsdale

Arizona Nonprofit Organization’s Wish Comes True

On behalf of Southern Scottsdale, it’s a privilege to welcome the new Make-A-Wish Arizona headquarters to our community.  We know of no other organization that embraces our community’s values more than this highly respected statewide nonprofit group.

Make-A-Wish Arizona is scheduled to relocate their “Wish House” from Phoenix to 2901 N. 78th Street in April, directly across the street from the Bike Stop on Thomas Road.

The 10,000 square-foot office building, formerly a call center, is now undergoing renovation.  The ground floor is being expanded to make room for a volunteer training center.  The top floor of the two-story building is being reconfigured to accommodate the organization’s 24 full-time employees.

Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the worldwide organization, chose to relocate to Southern Scottsdale because of our area’s central location.  “As an organization that serves the entire state,” says Hollie Costello, director of Public Relations and Marketing, “the Scottsdale location offers easy freeway access for our employees, our volunteers and our Wish Families.”

The organization’s new office building is also conveniently located between Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix and Banner Children’s Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.

About 540 Arizona kids are diagnosed every year with life-threatening medical conditions, making them eligible to be granted a “wish” from the organization.  In 2014, Make-A-Wish Arizona fulfilled 330 wishes statewide.  Working from their new location in Scottsdale, the organization’s goal this year is to make 350 wishes come true.

The relocation of Make-A-Wish Arizona to Southern Scottsdale is being made possible by a generous gift from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

To learn more about the organization that is celebrating its 35th anniversary and how you can help grant wishes, visit:

Scottsdale Gateway Alliance and all of our members give Make-A-Wish Arizona a warm welcome to our community.  We are working to help other organizations recognize the benefits of locating in Southern Scottsdale so they will follow in the footsteps of Make-A-Wish Arizona.

The moment the realtor unlocked and pushed open the door of the musty building, recalls Victor Cao, was “when I fell in love with this place.”

Victor is standing in the middle of the chaos of construction as he recalls that first visit here.  Piles of wood molding, stacks of tables and chairs and miscellaneous restaurant equipment fill the large room that will soon be the newest restaurant and bar on McDowell Road: Pho Cao (pronounced “Fo-Cow”).

“It was love at first sight,” says Victor, with an almost amorous twinkle in his eye.

Three years ago, the soft-spoken son of Vietnamese political refugees opened a restaurant in Tempe, proudly serving up a mix of traditional Vietnamese and fusion food to a growing customer base.

Victor established a strong following of repeat customers. But last year, Victor’s landlord raised the rent, and coupled with the high tax rate in Tempe, made it financially impractical for him to renew the lease.

With the future of his restaurant business now uncertain, Victor started looking for a new location with a friendlier business environment. And, not wanting to lose his loyal clientele, Victor restricted his search within a 2-mile radius.

That’s what led Victor to Southern Scottsdale.

As most nearby residents know, the building at 7436 E. McDowell Road has been vacant for the last seven years.  The empty building became an eyesore that impacted the image of McDowell Road.

Now, thanks to Victor Cao, that’s about to change.  Pho Cao is scheduled to open in March.

“Our menu will be 80% Vietnamese, 10% fusion and 10% bar food,” Victor explains, and quickly adds:  “100% great food!”

When operating in Tempe, Pho Cao not only became known for its quality food, it was also a place to hear good live music.  Victor intends to continue that tradition on McDowell Road.  He’s planning an interesting mix of music that will include blues, jazz and acoustic performers on different nights of the week.

“When people come to my restaurant, they won’t be just customers to me.  I want to get to know them so I can call them by their first names,” Victor says.  “I want to be part of this community.”

SGA welcomes Victor and his new restaurant, Pho Cao, to Southern Scottsdale.  And if his business philosophy is any indication, he should fit right into our neighborhood.