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.

By Taylor Holmes
Special to the Independent


Scottsdale City Council discussed possible courses of action for the revitalization of the McDowell Road Corridor Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Randy Grant, a planning, neighborhood and transportation administrator for the city of Scottsdale, presented feasible plans of action to the council that could “get McDowell back on track.”

The corridor, sometimes referred to as “The Motor Mile,” lies on a stretch of McDowell Road between the Loop 101 freeway and 64th Street. This stretch of road was home to large car dealerships and to Los Arcos Mall, which closed in the early 2000s, according to the Oct. 8 work session discussion.

Over the last 20 to 30 years, the car dealerships have gone out of business and the corridor needs to transition into a more residential area, according to Mr. Grant.

“We’re not looking for Los Arcos to return,” Mayor Jim Lane said during the work session discussion. “These are not going to be the glory days of The Motor Mile.”

One of the key approaches to revitalization, according to Grant, is to create a new image for the corridor.

“Having an identity for the area is essential for people to have that level of interest,” Mr. Grant said.

By rebranding the area, Mayor Lane says he hopes to entice people to go there.

According to Mr. Grant, State Farm Insurance will be hiring in up to 8,000 new employees and that new housing in the McDowell corridor would be an option that places these employees close to State Farm’s Tempe offices.

Attracting desirable businesses and expanding bus routes and other transportation options are also important factors in improving the area, Mr. Grant said.

By providing residents with these resources, they will be more connected with the amenities that the corridor offers, like Papago Park and the Indian Bend Wash, Mr. Grant said.

“We need to create the center of commerce that the corridor once was,” Vice Mayor Virginia Korte said.

In addition to engaging citizens in focus groups, Mr. Grant suggested working with the city of Tempe in efforts to improve Papago Park, which lies at the end of the corridor.

So far, Mayor Lane is happy with the steps that have been taken to improve the corridor.

“There are an awful lot of good things to be said about what’s been accomplished. I would like to see this continue,” Mayor Lane said.

Editor’s note: Ms. Holmes is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism


Read the original article here.


Being on the cutting-edge of technology, innovation and management is at the core of what we do at ATOMdesign.  We take pride in providing forward thinking and sustainable products for a global marketplace.  Fortunately, our company has found a partner in Scottsdale Gateway Alliance that shares these unique qualities at our corporate headquarters at ASU’s Skysong in Southern Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Gateway Alliance recognizes this potential and provides a private-sector approach to revitalize and reenergize the McDowell Road Corridor that will bring economic prosperity back to Southern 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.

I encourage all local businesses in Southern Scottsdale to take action and join.  By bringing together local businesses around a common and united front, it will allow a platform for businesses to share concerns or recommendations they may have for the city concerning the McDowell Road corridor.

We’re pleased to report our hard work is paying off.

On Tuesday night the City Council conducted a Work-Study Session on a plan to revitalize the McDowell Road Corridor and restore Southern Scottsdale to an area of economic prosperity.  Many of the issues and objectives discussed have been on the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance agenda for months.

In fact SGA was cited as a positive example of a private sector organization composed of businesses and neighborhoods in Southern Scottsdale that is willing to collaborate with the city to achieve mutual goals.

The city’s plan is still evolving.  However, the Council reached consensus on several important issues, beginning with the boundaries of the city’s efforts.  The “working” northern boundary of the designated revitalization area begins at Osborn Road.  (The east, west and southern boundaries are self-explanatory.)  Council members also agreed on the priorities of creating an “identity” for the McDowell Road Corridor, planting new landscaping, placing public art and working with residents to help guide the revitalization process.

Following the Council’s input and ideas, they directed the staff to polish up the plan and return at an undetermined date with a more specific course of action.

SGA members intend to meet with the city’s planning and economic vitality departments in the near future to present our group’s strategic priorities.

To watch the recorded City Council meeting, click here.  (Comments about SGA begin at 19:00).


Jeff Berghoff, president of the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, stands where he transformed a dilapidated car dealership into a top-notch design studio along the McDowell Road Corridor. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

By Terrance Thornton

Independent Newsmedia

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

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance wants to bring the success of years past back to an overlooked area they say is primed for revitalization and a comeback.

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, it’s mission statement reads.

Both municipal and SGA 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.

While the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is not a city-driven endeavor, two members of Scottsdale City Council say they played a role in spurring resident interest in the effort.

“I think it probably started percolating when Virginia (Korte) and I were running for council last year,” Scottsdle Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp said in an Oct. 1 phone interview. “The idea was born from the realization that government has taken it (the corridor) to its limit — there has to be advocacy for people to get excited about the McDowell area.”

Councilwoman Klapp says she is already beginning to see seeds of interest blossom.

“It can’t be overlooked; it is a critical part of south Scottsdale,” she said. “But you cannot create a commercial district without people.”

Scottsdale Vice Mayor Virginia Korte says she views Councilwoman Klapp and herself as the “founders of the organization.”

“I have been connected to the corridor for about 40 years,” she said in an Oct. 1 phone interview, noting the recent sale of her family’s car dealership at Scottsdale and McDowell roads. “For the first time I am seeing some really positive momentum down there and it is nothing the city has done.”

The opportunities for a revitalization along the McDowell Road Corridor are ample, Vice Mayor Korte contends.

“The area is highly accessible to two freeways and is 10 minutes from the airport (Phoenix Sky Harbor),” she explained. “We have got downtown Scottsdale to the north, so I believe we have some opportunity to create or recreate a center of commerce there.”

Retail and rooftops

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

The first, a Mark Taylor Residential Inc. 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 amendment was approved by Scottsdale City Council, Nov. 1, 2011, according to Scottsdale Independent archives.

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.

Scottsdale City Council approved that project last April, according to Scottsdale Independent archives

“The retail is going to follow the rooftops,” Vice Mayor Korte said of the coming multi-family housing projects. “It is going to be the catalyst for bringing in additional retail.”

Councilwoman Klapp agrees.

“They (the apartment projects) are going to be a great enhancement,” she said. “They are going to draw more people who want to invest in order to serve the people who are living there.”

South Scottsdale rebirth

Jeff Berghoff, president of the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance Board of Directors, says the McDowell Road Corridor is a place in transition.

“We are a group of private citizens who have a vested interest to make sure McDowell Road does not turn into the next Van Buren,” he said in a Oct. 1 phone interview. “I have a vested interest in seeing this place succeed.”

Mr. Berghoff recently converted a car dealership at 7000 E. McDowell Road into the Berghoff Design Group headquarters by repurposing a dilapidated dealership facility.

“We want to make sure we are bringing the attention to south Scottsdale because a lot of the focus has been in north Scottsdale,” he said. “We want to be the boots on the ground. We want to draw attention to this. What could happen in south Scottsdale?”

When asked what economic development meant to the McDowell Road Corridor, Mr. Berghoff replied, “I think it means a resurgence in the area.”

Noting the redevelopment of an auto dealership shell into his design studio, Mr. Berghoff contends his business could be a prototype for what opportunities can exist along the McDowell Road.

“But I don’t know what will come first,” he said of the incoming multi-family housing products. “We as a group, we haven’t decided where we stand on it. Certainly, we are not one side or the other.”

Dana Close, SGA treasurer, echoes the sentiment of getting conversations started.

“For me, on a personal level this is my biggest platform because I live here,” she said in a Sept. 29 phone interview. “If we can combine our efforts in a positive manner and utilize the same voice we can turn this into a completely different place.”

Ms. Close contends she wants what the neighbors want — a vibrant community.

“I think what we need to do is listen to the community members … people who live here want to see amenities,” she said.

“We are not advocating for more people. We are not apartment people. But we do want to show that we are willing to roll up our sleeves and make something happen — show investors its a new day around here.”

Ms. Close says it is time for the McDowell Road Corridor to emerge as a burgeoning marketplace bringing new economic development opportunities.

“We need not be looked upon as second-class citizens of the city,” she said. “What we are not is an avenue for everyone to complain about the things we can’t change. What we can change is encouraging the current businesses that are already here.”


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




The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance organizational meeting last Thursday night at Los Sombreros was a tremendous success. We appreciate your participation in the first of many more gatherings to share great ideas, collect input from neighbors and businesses in Southern Scottsdale, and initiate real change in the McDowell Corridor.

We are appreciative of your involvement and are grateful for the participation of Scottsdale City Council members Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte. Our group was encouraged to hear about their continued commitment to Southern Scottsdale and their willingness to work with SGA to give our businesses and neighborhoods a stronger voice at City Hall.

We also want to give a very special thank you to Dana Close, for her extraordinary coordination of neighborhood and grassroots activities for SGA. Dana’s enthusiasm and energy is a real asset in making SGA more visible to opinion leaders, investors, and community stakeholders.

Once again … thank you for volunteering to help SGA restore Southern Scottsdale’s promise, economic prosperity and sense of pride.

Please go to our SGA Facebook page to view photos from Thursday’s event and tag yourself. And, while you’re there, leave a comment on our wall.

Let’s keep up the momentum!



Arizona Republic

My Turn by Brian Krob

I enjoy living in south Scottsdale. In fact, I can’t imagine living anywhere else in our city since my neighborhood is so close to my architectural firm’s office, and it provides me direct access to many of the amenities that match my outdoor lifestyle.

I live in the Hy-View neighborhood within view of the Papago Buttes. Besides its great location, I enjoy the diversity of our neighborhood. We have a wonderful mix of people that call Hy-View home. Our residents range from older retirees to young people starting families. We all share a strong sense of community.

My neighbors and I take pride in our neighborhood, and are proud to be residents of south Scottsdale. We support improved transportation connections, and are proponents of quality housing that will appeal to a cross section of new residents, from young urban professionals to growing and working families.

I’m excited about joining some of my colleagues in the business community and fellow neighbors to be part of a new group called the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance. The Alliance is a group of businesses, property owners and longtime residents who are organized to help breathe new economic life into south Scottsdale. Our focus is starting on the McDowell Road corridor.

One of the aspects I like most about SGA is that it has been created by people from the private sector who aren’t depending on city government to initiate the reinvigoration of the McDowell Road corridor.

As an architect, I recognize the potential of some of the vacant buildings along McDowell Road. Some of them are prime candidates for repurposing — because, as the saying goes, “they don’t build them like that anymore.”

For instance, many of the buildings formerly used by car dealers have what we in architecture and design call “good bones.” All it will take is a little creativity and ingenuity from those with the vision to convert some of the buildings into structures that make sense for their businesses.

Jeff Berghoff, a member of SGA, has proven it can be done. Not long ago he bought an old building that used to house a car dealership and adapted it for his landscape design and maintenance business. From what I understand, another entrepreneur is preparing to do something similar very soon to another property on McDowell Road.

I am happy to be on the ground floor of this movement to revitalize and repurpose the McDowell Road corridor.

Exciting things are just around the corner.

Brian Krob is an architect and a board member of the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance.

By Edward Gately

The Republic |

The first of two new, four-story office buildings will be under construction next week at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, on the McDowell Road corridor.

Plaza Cos. announced the Aug. 19 start of construction on SkySong III, a 145,000square-foot building that will be located along SkySong Boulevard, just southwest of the complex’s signature shade structure.

Plaza Cos. is the master developer of SkySong, in partnership with the ASU Foundation and Scottsdale. The financing for SkySong III, $32 million, is being provided by Alliance Bank of Arizona. Tucson-based Holualoa Cos. has partnered with Plaza Cos. for the project.

“The momentum at SkySong really was strong all during the recession with the lease-up of SkySong I and II, and then the start of the apartment project,” said Sharon Harper, Plaza Cos. president and CEO. “Now to move into a third building along SkySong Boulevard is really continuing the tremendous excitement about this premiere location for companies that want to be connected to ASU and located in the center where so many people work and who will find opportunities at SkySong.”

ASU will lease 1 1 ⁄ 2 floors of the third building, and WebFilings, a current Sky-Song tenant, will expand its presence by taking a full floor. Plaza Cos. also will be taking office space on the first floor.

WebFilings develops and markets fully integrated, cloud-based software that helps companies meet U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirements. At build-out, the company will have about 100 employees at SkySong.

Combined, the anchor tenants allow construction to begin with the building 65 percent leased. The first two office buildings, SkySong I and II, are fully leased.

“It’s important that we are under construction and companies looking to locate can see the space and know a definite time line when the building will be complete,” Harper said. “We hope to have it ready for occupancy in mid-summer 2014, late June, early July.”

More than 1,000 employees and 50 companies are housed on the SkySong property, at the southeastern corner of McDowell and Scottsdale roads. The mission of the mixed-use, 42-acre development is to be a job creator and entrepreneurial hub. “It’s just another sign of how that corridor is developing on all lines, with what’s promised, planned and under way,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “SkySong has already made a significant impact in the Scottsdale and McDowell Road corridors in helping bring in new businesses and economic growth.”

Already under construction is Sky-Song Apartments, a 325-unit complex with the first phase, including 74 units, opening in early October. The next 80 units will open in December, with more units completed next February and April.

Plaza Cos. is actively involved in discussions with potential tenants for Sky-Song IV, which also will be 145,000 square feet, and “we’re poised for it to move rapidly,” Harper said.

With the completion of SkySong III and IV, and the apartments, the square footage of development at SkySong will total more than 900,000 square feet.

‘‘We hope to have it ready for occupancy in mid-summer 2014, late June, early July.”


Plaza Cos. president and CEO

McDowell Road rebirth is ‘primary goal’

By Edward Gately

The Republic |

As a longtime stakeholder in south Scottsdale’s McDowell Road corridor, Councilwoman Virginia Korte fondly re­members its heyday and looks forward to seeing its resurgence.

The nearly 3-mile stretch from Loop 101 to 64th Street was particularly hard hit by the recession, with abandoned auto dealerships and retail outlets.

“I believe that in another five, 10 years, McDowell is going to be an important cen­ter of commerce and we’re going to redo its sense of place here in Scottsdale,” Korte said. “I think there’s a lot of good, creative thinkers here as far as investors and developers, and I think there are more people willing to look at this area as a potential center for investment.”

The councilwoman’s family owned and operated Ray Korte Chevrolet for 28 years at the northeastern corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads. They re­cently sold the nearly 8-acre property to Scottsdale-based Clayton Cos., owned by Tom and Jane Frenkel.

Tom Frankel couldn’t be reached for more information on the purchase.

LosArcosSignThe McDowell corridor’s heyday be­gan with the opening of Los Arcos Mall, the Valley’s first indoor shopping mall, in the early 1970s. Its “unique indoor char­acter” attracted people from across the Valley, but that attraction declined as oth­er malls were built and freeways re­moved cut-through traffic, Korte said.

The early 1990s saw the transforma­tion of the McDowell corridor into the Motor Mile, which at its peak included more than 30 auto dealerships.

“At one time, the retail sales tax gener­ated out of that mile was 9 percent of the city’s budget,” Korte said.

The recession led to a mass exodus of dealerships prompted by a lack of traffic, which led to the corridor being lined with vacant dealership properties.

Now, an apartment complex under construction at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, is the first of many large projects headed to the corridor, and others are slated to come out of the ground in the months ahead, fueled by an increase in in­vestment in the corridor.

SkySong is on the southeastern corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads.

“What is happening now is a resur­gence of additional apartments being planned and built along McDowell,” Korte said. “SkySong is an important cat­alyst for commerce and they bring 2,000 workers a day into that area. Also, the clo­sure of dealerships was driven by lack of traffic, so it’s nice to see some dealership properties being repurposed, such as Berghoff Design Group.”

Other, far-reaching ideas for the corri­dor include an elevated trail above the center of the street from the Indian Bend Wash to Papago Park, as well as a light­rail destination.

Danielle Casey, the city’s economic-de­velopment director, said redeveloping the McDowell corridor is a “primary goal of the city.”

“It’s an exciting time,” she said. “We are working on items to present to the City Council to see what approach they would like us to take in terms of address­ing McDowell.”

New era

In addition to the apartments, SkySong developer Plaza Cos. is planning to build two office buildings, totaling about 290,000 square feet, west of the existing office buildings and east of Scottsdale Road.

“Construction on SkySong III will be­gin in the next couple of months,” said Tom Evans, Plaza Cos. spokesman. “We will be making a more formal announce­ment with additional details in the coming weeks.”

Just east of SkySong, Mark Taylor has started construction on an AutoZone that’s being relocated to make way for the developer’s 572-unit, gated apartment community.

The AutoZone should be completed in November, while the first phase of the apartment complex, including 440 units, should be under construction by mid-Oc­tober, said Chris Brozina, Mark Taylor’s vice president.

“Phase I will also include the leasing office, pool area, main amenity spaces, courtyard areas and the entire perimeter boundary,” he said. “The 440 units is all of the frontage on McDowell … from 74th Street to Miller Road. We’re looking at the first buildings opening for leasing in Au­gust of next year. We’ll probably start Phase II in summer of 2015.”

Interest in the complex has been in­creasing as it will feature larger units than most complexes, Brozina said.

Other multifamily projects to be built on the corridor include Las Aguas, with 220 units on the northern side of McDow­ell at 68th Street, and 77 on the Park, with 66 units south of McDowell on 77th Street.

A new organization has formed with the goal of directing more attention to the McDowell corridor. The Scottsdale Gate­way Alliance is a “boots-on-the-ground” effort committed to taking south Scotts­dale in a direction that’s good for resi­dents, businesses and the region.

The alliance’s chairman is Jeff Bergh­off, who purchased and renovated a for­mer auto dealership, at 7000 E. McDowell Road, and transformed it into the head­quarters of his company, Berghoff De­sign Group. He employs about 275 peoplethere.

‘Blight of Scottsdale’

“McDowell, for many years and still in many ways, is probably the blight of Scottsdale,” he said. “You had all these dealerships disappear and go into mega­centers … and left buildings essentially decaying and falling apart.”

McDowell has many resources and at­tributes at its anchor points, “but what’s in between is lacking,” Berghoff said. The alliance wants to spread the word and tell investors not to go to north Scottsdale, but to bring their headquarters and other de­velopments to McDowell, he said.

“We have all been impacted over the years by the decline of this area, but the possibilities along McDowell Road are endless,” he said. “We can make it a desti­nation. Reinvestment is already happen­ing, but we must encourage other busi­nesses to follow suit and seize on the am­ple opportunities that currently exist.”

Investments in future development in­clude Sun Chase Holdings, which has as­sembled 30 acres of individually owned auto-dealership sites at the northeastern corner of McDowell and 64th Street.

In addition, Clayton Cos.’ purchase of the Korte dealership could prompt future redevelopment on that site. The Frenkels, longtime Scottsdale real-estate investors, own and have redeveloped numerous properties in the downtown area.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance wants to be “a place where people come together” and make others, including po­tential investors, aware that the McDow­ell corridor isn’t “sitting here idle or sit­ting here being the mess that it was,” said Dana Close, the alliance’s treasurer.

Vice Mayor Suzanne Klapp said the time is right for the resurgence of the McDowell Corridor.

“There’s a recognition that that area is very close to Phoenix Sky Harbor Inter­national Airport, Phoenix and Tempe, so it’s close to a lot of other areas that are well-developed,” she said. “It makes sense for owners and potential owners to take a look at it with new eyes now that the economy is starting to turn around.”

The Arizona Republic
My Turn, by Suzanne Klapp

Who says nothing is happening on McDowell Road? The Scotts­dale Republic reports that there’s a “newly formed Scottsdale Gateway Alliance” that is “spearhead­ing an effort” to revi­talize McDowell Road and the surrounding neighborhoods. The SGA is a wel­come addition to help increase activity, op­portunity and invest­ment in the southern part of our city. The SGA’s primary focus along McDowell Road is aligned with the No. 1 priority identified recently by the City Council: More must be done to improve this historic corridor.

Government plays an important role for land-use planning and in providing infrastructure or in gathering input from citizens. Yet private interests are paramount to make the area vibrant once again. In the end, government staff and citizen task forces can ac­complish only so much. It’s the private, free market that ultimately invests in improving the area, one property at a time.

Recognizing opportunities and gath­ering resources to make positive changes have been occurring in the area somewhat right under our noses. Property owners, business owners and residents are coming together in an organized fashion to lend their vision,
time, talents and money toward enhanc­ing parcels and breathing life into neighborhoods along the McDowell corridor.

SGA Chairman Jeff Berghoff has transformed an empty and deteriorat­ing former car dealership into an im­pressive new home for his residential and commercial landscaping business. The group’s treasurer, Dana Close, has been a dynamo in organizing beautifi­cation efforts and reinvestment in her 30-year-old community called Hacienda del Rey.

Others involved in SGA’s founding have a vested interest in the area and are enthusiastic about the potential. They see their grass-roots effort as a catalyst to encourage others to take a new look at the McDowell Road area as vital to the long-term health and pros­perity of this important gateway from Phoenix, Tempe and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The organization’s website, www.scottsdalegate­, is full of their passion and vision.

Skysong’s Innovation Center is at the important intersection of McDowell and Scottsdale roads. It’s a critical an­chor created and managed by Arizona State University and an incubator and accelerator for companies employing more than 1000 people currently. Some of these companies will expand their operations over the years, leading to possible plans to move outside the Sky­song facility to nearby properties. We must plan for this exciting and organic growth to assure that potential new property owners, entrepreneurs, in­novators and tenants remain in Scotts­dale, preferably along or near the McDowell Road corri­dor.

I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and savvy of the SGA board and will lend my support to the organization in every possible way. 

Suzanne Klapp serves on the Scottsdale City Council.