By Terrance Thornton
Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA

Members of Scottsdale City Council say the local governing board’s No. 1 priority is to help — in any way possible — the cultivation of the revitalization of the McDowell Road Corridor.

Scottsdale City Council discussed the topic at length during a two-hour April 1 work session discussion meant to clearly identify council priorities and to show tangible efforts to attain those goals.

Supporters of the revitalization of the McDowell Road Corridor, in particular the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, say they are encouraged to see Scottsdale City Council making serious strides toward the effort. One members says she can feel the momentum building at City Hall.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, seeks to advance investment and revitalization opportunities in southern Scottsdale and along the McDowell Road Corridor, according to its mission statement.

SGA Treasurer Dana Close attended the April 1 work session and says it sounds like something will stick in terms of changing the revitalization of the McDowell Road Corridor from idea to fruition.

“I am very encouraged and excited see to what our future will be,” she said in an April 2 phone interview. “It is really happening.”

Ms. Close says she heard tangible ideas articulated.

“I think just overall, it was the sort of united consensus that we are were getting closer and closer,” she explained. “I just think it was the willingness on the council to really flush through what can really happen.”


Although no new incentive offerings have been crafted nor new policies made, Scottsdale officials contend planning, zoning and transportation projects and issues will be addressed a bit differently along the McDowell Road Corridor.

Corridor snapshot

Municipal and community leaders say a major goal of the redevelopment of the McDowell Road Corridor — roughly the area of McDowell Road west from Loop 101 to 68th Street — is to bring more people to the area.

Two city council-approved south Scottsdale multi-family housing projects may spur the rebirth of the McDowell Road Corridor, proponents say.

The first, a Mark Taylor Homes project, allowed by a rezoning amendment of 24.5 acres of land at the southeast corner of 74th Street and McDowell Road, facilitates a mixed-use development of a new, three-story, 536-unit multifamily residential community within the existing commercial district at 74th Street.

The second, a Scottsdale Mar, LLC project, has been approved to construct a 154-unit apartment complex at the northwest corner of 68th Street and McDowell Road where a Pitre Buick auto dealership once stood.

Those projects will come online in the next calendar year, officials estimate.

There was a time when the McDowell Road Corridor was a major commercial artery pumping a constant flow of revenue into the coffers of local proprietors and the municipality of Scottsdale.

But what was once coined the Scottsdale “Motor Mile” saw, over the last decade, low- and high-end car dealerships seek greener pastures in different parts of the Valley of Sun.

Municipal momentum

Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte says it’s time for citizens, elected leaders and hired hands at City Hall to roll up their sleeves and get to work on better facilitating economic growth on McDowell Road.

“This doesn’t come from the mayor, this comes from the entire council,” she said in an April 2 phone interview. “It (the McDowell Road Corridor) has been neglected far too long.”

She says both multi-family housing projects along McDowell are creating an air of interest and excitement along the once proud thoroughfare.

“They are actually building now,” she said of apartment projects breaking ground. “There is just some real good synergies — I think the city has come up with some good strategies.”

Vice Mayor Korte contends government cannot be a major player in the revitalization of McDowell Road.

“It is all about getting government out of the way and letting private investment,” she said. “We don’t have any incentive money, that is not what I am talking about. We want to make it easier for that investment to that happen.”

Redevelopment is no easy task, Vice Mayor Korte explains.

“It is riskier for investors to redevelop a project then just a blank plot of land,” she said. “Until you dig into the site, you don’t really know what is there.”

Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips says he was encouraged by the hours-long conversation on the topic of McDowell Road.

He’s pleased with the amount of apartment projects coming online within Scottsdale city limits — but, for him, apartment buildings have nothing to do with economic development.

“What we did was talk about some relaxed standards in the new standard procedures we have now that are holding up business development,” he said in a April 2 phone interview.

“Properties like the ones that are there — like an existing building — it’s hard to redevelop it. The city can come in and say (they) have to put in new sprinklers and that is a $100,000 … that keeps people away from redevelopment.”

Councilman Phillips says he is all for relaxing the critical lens of Scottsdale engineers.

“The concerns there is that is you don’t want it to become a slum area, so (standards) will have to be on a case-by-case basis.”

Councilman Phillips says the startups and high-brow educators at Sky Song need to stop being an island onto themselves.

“It is becoming more and more of its own little world and its not contributing to the community at large,” he said of new dwellings coming online specifically to cater to Sky Song users and employees.

“I would like to see a dialogue on Sky Song that can be productive for Scottsdale and the community. Let’s become a player in Scottsdale.”

SkySong is an incubator-type facility designed to help companies grow by providing business services and programs offered or facilitated by Arizona State University, according

New view of SOPs

Scottsdale Planning and Development Director Randy Grant says his department will not be lowering development standards but rather finding which standards really fit for a particular parcel along McDowell Road.

“We are not proposing to reduce the city’s high standards for quality,” he said in an April 2 written response to e-mailed questions.

“Properties in the corridor have some unique challenges, and addressing those challenges may require looking at reinvestment in new ways.

“For example, some commercial buildings in the area were built when development standards and codes were less stringent than they are now. A new business may decide not to locate here if costs for bringing the property into conformance with all current requirements are imposed.”

Mr. Grant says a solution is looking at adopting “adaptive re-use” policies to help stimulate reinvestment in the area.

“The city’s role is to create and maintain an environment in which businesses and residents will choose to locate and be successful,” he said.

“That can take the form of physical improvements such as landscaping and infrastructure construction or regulatory changes that promote new investment.”

Scottsdale City Council has brought several ideas to the table, Mr. Grant says.

“Council has articulated a number of principles: Actions must be realistic and have tangible results. Costs and benefits must be proportional. Business recruitment in the corridor should include innovation, high-tech, and education enterprises,” he recalled.

“The private sector will respond to opportunity, and the city should identify and effectively communicate the area’s potential. Success should be measured and celebrated. Revitalization should be encouraged, and simultaneously neighborhoods should be protected.”

News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 via e-mail at or follow him

Edward Gately, The Republic |

Two projects green-lighted by the Scottsdale City Council will make a portion of the McDowell Road corridor safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, and prevent flooding along a stretch of downtown’s Fifth Avenue.

On March 18, the council approved a $2 million contract with CS Construction for the McDowell bridge-widening project. In addition, it approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Maricopa County Flood Control District for the Fifth Avenue drainage project.

The intergovernmental agreement provides district participation in the drainage project and allows the district to fund 75 percent of the construction cost, up to $250,000. The total cost is estimated at $275,000.

The city will cover the remaining 25 percent using capital-improvement project funds.

CS Construction will build an 8-foot wide pedestrian walkway extension along the north and south sides of the McDowell bridge over Indian Bend Wash. The project also will include striping a 4-foot-wide bike lane from 77th Street to Miller Road.

In addition, the work will include constructing driveways, sidewalk ramps and transitions, and relocating a bus shelter and street lighting.

Currently, the bridge provides two lanes in each direction without either bike lanes or a protected pedestrian path, said Thyra Ryden-Diaz, senior project manager. The project helps fulfill several objectives of the city’s transportation master plan, adopted by the council in 2008, regarding pedestrian access and safety, bicycling and complete streets, she said.

“The bridge widening will create a street environment that is safe and secure for pedestrians,” she said. “It will allow pedestrians to directly access city park amenities and businesses located along Indian Bend Wash. The project will provide pedestrian improvements, which will promote land uses that enhance public spaces, neighborhoods, commercial, and employment areas within the local neighborhood.”

The project received more than $1.66 million in grant funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments. The city is providing the required local match of $355,348 in capital-improvement project funds.

Construction is expected to start in June and should be completed in a year, Ryden-Diaz said. Some lane closures will occur during construction, she said.

The drainage improvement project will be along Fifth Avenue from Scottsdale Road to around Craftsman Court. The area has experienced flooding in the past affecting several commercial properties, said Christopher Perkins, senior project manager.

To qualify for funding, the project must be constructed between July 1 of this year and June 30, 2015.

“Staff met with businesses and determined that existing drainage systems were either non-existent or inadequate,” Perkins said. “Early in the summer of 2013 staff walked from business to business along the project areas to discuss the project scope and timing.”

The project will include reconstructing the roadway from Scottsdale to Craftsman Court to allow for better storm water drainage, said Dave Lipinski, principal project manager. During parts of construction, the entire stretch of Fifth Avenue from Scottsdale to Craftsman Court will be closed, he said.

“Business owners are being notified that construction will begin approximately July 1 and will last about one month,” he said. “There will be signage of the road closed, and I’m sure there will be signage up for pedestrian traffic so people will know the businesses are still there.”

Harer's Nursery

Entering this commercial business is like walking into an oasis. Soft music floating across the grounds and the soothing sounds of trickling water create a relaxing environment that allows a customer to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Harper’s Nursery on Hayden Road just south of Thomas Road isn’t only a Southern Scottsdale icon, it’s a botanical gem that reflects the laid-back lifestyle of many of the residents of nearby neighborhoods.

Just like Southern Scottsdale, the third-generation nursery has a rustic character and a romantic history that dates back almost 70 years.

Jay Harper, Sr. and his wife Alice started the nursery, originally located on Thomas Road in Phoenix, almost by accident.  Harper worked for the Phoenix Fire Department and grew plants and vegetables in his spare time.  One thing quickly led to another.  And like so many hobbies, the Harpers found themselves starting a burgeoning business when more and more people began stopping in  and asking to buy their family’s products.


The Harper’s family business certainly has a celebrated past.  But it’s their future that Jay Harper wants to talk about.  Harper says he is seeing a whole new generation of homeowners moving into Southern Scottsdale.

“People are taking pride in these older homes and fixing them up,” said Jay, who grew up in Southern Scottsdale. ”The area is affordable for first-time home buyers and they are doing some creative things with these homes.  And it seems like it’s contagious.”

Harper’s Nursery is experiencing a real boom in their business.  In response to that uptick, the family is constructing a Design Center at their 2529 N. Hayden Road location.  They expect this new feature to inspire customers’ ideas and creativity, and also expand the nursery’s business.

The grand opening of the Design Center is scheduled for May 3rd.

Never one to rest on their laurels, the Harpers anticipate 2014 being a very good year for their nursery.  The Harpers are a living legacy – and the family’s nursery will be an integral member of our Southern Scottsdale community for a long time to come.

 Visit Harper’s Nursery at

We have some really good news for homeowners in two of Southern Scottsdale’s historic neighborhoods: The Historic Preservation Commission is accepting applications from homeowners to fund projects that preserve the historic character of the outside of their homes.

Homeowners in Village Grove 1-6 and Town and Country neighborhoods have until the end of June to apply for funds of up to $7,500.

To be eligible for the disbursement of funds, a homeowner must agree to maintain the exterior of their home and dedicate a Conservation Easement to be in compliance with state and local legal requirements.

The Historic Preservation Commission developed the “Historic Residential Exterior Rehabilitation Program” to help homeowners preserve the character of their homes. The funds have been budgeted and approved by the City Council specifically to assist homeowners in historic areas of our city.

For more information about how to apply for funding and the selection process, visit:


The Historic District Maps

Village Grove Scottsdale Historic District

Town and Country Scottsdale Preservations


3 cool things about your Scottsdale neighborhood
This week: The ‘hidden jewel’ of Hacienda del Rey

By Beth Duckett, Edward Gately and Philip Haldiman

Residents of Hacienda del Rey consider their neighborhood a “hidden jewel” in south Scottsdale.

Where it’s located: Northwest of McDowell and Hayden roads, behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, the neighborhood includes 104 homes and several families have loved it so much that they convinced other family members to buy a home there.


The 30-year-old neighborhood was “starting to show its age,” so residents pooled their talent and resources, and initiated an extensive revitalization plan in 2009, said Dana Close, who has lived there for 20 years.

“When we cleaned up the common areas and pool area, it then became contagious, with people putting in new patios and freshening their landscaping,” she said. “It encouraged a lot of remodeling. Now our houses sell before you can even get a sign in the yard. Our prices have gone up.”

Three cool things about the neighborhood:

The residents – the community has a diverse demographic, from new families with young children, to single adults and older couples. Also, numerous community events take place throughout the year to bring residents together.

“It’s a very friendly neighborhood and if anybody has an issue, somebody’s always there to help,” said Karyl Sanford, (above) who has lived there 17 years. “It’s pet friendly and children friendly.”

Location – residents can be in downtown Phoenix in 15-20 minutes, and in downtown Tempe in 10 minutes. It’s an even shorter trip to downtown Scottsdale amenities.

Recreation – the community includes a private park, the Greenbelt, with a large grassy area bordered by a social seating area on one end and a sports court on the other for playing tennis, volleyball and shooting baskets. In addition, residents share an orchard and herb garden.

Also, El Dorado Park, a major city park, is located just a few blocks away.

Free landscape workshops for Scottsdale residents

Be the envy of your neighborhood this spring and summer with a beautiful garden and outdoor landscaping. Scottsdale’s free Spring Landscape Workshops offer hands-on experience from efficient watering and pruning to a complete backyard makeover.

Workshops are scheduled at the Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef or the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, 5401 N. Hayden Road. Advanced registration is required for all workshops and can be made on-line at or by calling 480-312-5690. Confirmations will be provided.

Here is the workshop schedule:

Drip Irrigation Design & Installation
Learn how to design and install a drip system and get tips to make it efficient and easy to maintain.
Date: Saturday, March 1
Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Groundcovers & Vines for the Desert Landscape
Groundcovers and vines can add great beauty to your garden. Horticulturist and Master Gardener Kirti Mathura will teach you how these plants work for the desert landscape.
Date: Thursday, March 6
Time: 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Learn to Prune
Pruning promotes the beauty, strength and health of your trees and shrubs. Learn basic pruning cuts in an outdoor setting.
Date: Saturday, March 8
Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, 5401 N. Hayden Rd

Program Your Irrigation Controller
Take control of your landscape watering with step-by-step instructions and hands-on practice setting and adjusting the timer on your irrigation controller.
Date: Thursday, March 13
Time: 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

“Smart” Irrigation Controllers
A new generation of irrigation controllers can automatically adjust your irrigation schedule based on your yard and weather conditions. Learn how this new technology can save up to 30 percent on your outdoor watering.
Date: Saturday, March 15
Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Plant Care in the Desert
Horticulturist and Master Gardener Kirti Mathura will cover proper techniques for watering, fertilizing, pruning and other maintenance tips for your desert garden in this class.
Date: Thursday, March 27
Time: 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Irrigation Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Repair
Get the basics on good maintenance practices, advice on problem solving and techniques to keep your landscape irrigation system running smoothly.
Date: Saturday, March 29
Time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Backyard Landscape Makeover
Master Gardener Cathy Rymer will show you easy step-by-step methods to a successful backyard makeover.
Date: Thursday, April 3
Time: 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef

Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden Tour
Go on a walking tour (approximately two miles) through Scottsdale’s five and a half acre Xeriscape Garden with Bill Casenhiser, the Garden’s caretaker.
Date: Saturday, April 5
Time: 10 a.m. – Noon
Location: Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, 5401 N. Hayden Rd

For more water conservation tips or information on the free landscape workshops visit or call 480-312-5690.






One of the objectives of SGA is to give stakeholders, including both businesses and residents, a positive voice in the future of Southern Scottsdale.  


Even though SGA is still young and evolving, we have established our organization as a valuable resource for those who are interested in locating their businesses or residences in our community.  Almost every day we hear from people who appreciate and support the role SGA is playing in Southern Scottsdale.


Here’s a sample of what people are saying:


“The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is providing a private-sector approach to revitalize and re-energize the McDowell Road Corridor that will bring economic prosperity back to South Scottsdale.  McDowell Road is on the precipice of becoming a leading technology hub in the region and SGA will serve as a portal for all local businesses and residents to benefit from.”


– Jodi Deros, partner at ATOM Design in SkySong


“I am so grateful that a local, non-profit organization is coming to fruition in Southern Scottsdale.  SGA will provide an excellent platform for local business to unite around a common cause that will restore economic life in the McDowell Road Corridor.”


– Al McCarthy, owner of Dukes Sports Bar & Grill


“When I was approached to become involved in SGA, it was clear that this organization was aimed at a ‘boot’s-on-the-ground’ approach for uniting businesses and residents from within our community, as opposed to previous attempts and prior city task forces.  I strongly support having a non-profit, private organization in the community that’s only goal is to benefit the business owners and residents of South Scottsdale.”


– Tottie Kaya, owner ofTottie’s Asian Fusion

We encourage you to contact us via email or Facebook, give us your feedback, tell us about your business or neighborhood and share more positive perspectives about SGA and the McDowell Road Corridor. 





Public Safety Professionals Pitch In For Children


Police Officers and Firefighters sponsor charitable activities all year long – but it’s during the Christmas holidays that both the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA) and the Scottsdale Firefighters Association stage their signature events.


POSA’s non-profit organization, POSA Outreach, is busy preparing for their 11th annual “Shop With A Cop” event scheduled for Saturday, December 21st.  POSA Outreach will be coordinating 10 Valley Public Safety agencies whose charitable efforts will benefit 300 at-risk youth by taking them Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart.  Each child will be paired with a Police Officer and allowed to spend up to $150 dollars on clothes, shoes and a special toy.


You can participate by mailing your contribution to POSA Outreach at:

7229 E. 1st Avenue, Suite 203 Scottsdale, AZ 85251



Additionally, the Firefighters Association, working in collaboration with the Scottsdale Fire Department, kicked off their annual “Toys For Tots” toy drive Saturday morning with a Pancake Breakfast.  Donated toys will be accepted up to several days before Christmas.


You can drop off unwrapped toys at any Scottsdale Fire Station.  The most convenient stations in Southern Scottsdale are located at

1901 N. Miller Road

and 7522 E. Indian School.


This is the season for caring and sharing. 


We hope you open your hearts to help Police Officers and Firefighters make this a special Christmas for deserving children.   


Throughout this holiday season please continue reaching out to family, friends and businesses in Southern Scottsdale and ask them to join us on Twitter and Facebook and also post their comments on our SGA website.



In Scottsdale, business and sales taxes comprise more than 25% of all city revenues.  According to Local First Arizona, an organization that supports and promotes local businesses in Arizona, when you spend money locally, that money creates up to 75% more tax revenue.  And that means funding for public safety services, transportation, recreation programs and our libraries.









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Arizona Republic

Volunteers labor to spruce up Scottsdale’s ‘southern gateway’

Submitted by Dana Close, a 25-year resident of southern Scottsdale and a founding member of the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance launched its inaugural cleanup of Mc-Dowell Road on the morning of Nov. 9, an event that not only captured the enthusiasm of volunteers and local businesses, but also collected a dumpster’s worth of trash along the corridor.

Donning vibrant green vests and work gloves, about 150 volunteers split up into eight teams, fanning out along McDowell Road near 77th Street. Coronado High School cheerleaders got the morning rolling with an impromptu cheer: “Let’s Go S-G-A … Let’s Clean Up McDowell Road.”

The south Scottsdale team of volunteers included longtime residents, business owners, honor students, Boys & Girls Clubs members and Scouting organizations. Even Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte and firefighters from Station 601 flexed their muscles to help clean up and show their commitment to our city’s “Southern Gateway.”

The cleanup project was just one part of SGA’s objective to unite businesses, property owners and residents around the common goal of helping breathe economic life into McDowell Road and southern Scottsdale.

SGA is on the ground making things happen. Our wheels are churning and momentum is building literally every week. Our organization is working hard to make the Southern Scottsdale Gateway Corridor the next great destination in the Valley.

The event could not have been successful without the generous support from businesses and organizations that donated their time, talent, equipment and supplies.

The organizations included Scottsdale Healthcare, Salt River Project, Goodwill Industries, Lowe’s, Peter Piper Pizza, Dunn Transportation (“Ollie the Trolley”), Scottsdale Firefighters Association, Duke’s Sports Bar, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Denny’s, Paul’s Ace Hardware and Fresh & Easy.

The groups collected enough trash to fill a dumpster, from cigarette butts to plastic bags and sandwich wrappers to weeds. Volunteers even wiped down and painted city signs, benches and magazine racks.

For the past several months, SGA has been meeting with neighborhood residents, groups, businesses and city officials to explore economic-development opportunities. SGA has also kick-started conversations with the city about landscaping enhancements along key parts of McDowell Road.

Stay tuned for some exciting plans, as well as additional SGA-sponsored events that will focus on revitalizing southern Scottsdale.

Staff reports
Independent Newsmedia

Updated November 7, 2013


The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is bringing together a broad coalition of community groups, businesses, property owners and other volunteers to spearhead its inaugural clean up of McDowell Road.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 9 at McDowell Road Skate Park, which is near 77th Street and McDowell Road, according to a Nov. 7 press release.

The effort is part of SGA’s commitment to unite businesses, property owners and residents around the common goal of helping to breathe economic life into McDowell Road and the Southern Scottsdale Gateway Corridor, the release states.

SGA is a privately funded group driven by community stakeholders who are personally and professionally invested in southern Scottsdale and care deeply about its future and quality of life.

“SGA brings a real ‘boots-on-the-ground’ approach to helping guide southern Scottsdale in a positive and vibrant direction,” said Dana Close, a founding member of SGA in a prepared statement. “Well, it doesn’t get more ‘boots-on-the-ground’ than people volunteering to help clean up one of the most vital corridors in our city.”

Event donors include Scottsdale Health Care, Salt River Project, Goodwill Industries, Lowe’s, Peter Piper Pizza, Scottsdale Fire Department, Scottsdale Firefighters Association, Duke’s Sports Bar, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Fresh & Easy.