Newly formed alliance positive sign for McDowell Corridor
Arizona Republic 07/24/2013, Page ZJ21
Goal is to revitalize south Scottsdale area
Three years ago, Jeff Berghoff’s newly purchased office space looked like most of the other car dealerships on McDowell Road: ugly, outdated and conspicuously devoid of activity.
Today, however, some 250 workers report daily at the 4-acre property across from Papago Plaza, now the headquarters of Berghoff’s thriving landscape design and maintenance firm. Inside, it resembles nothing so much as an art museum, with its high ceilings, hardwood floors and abundance of natural light.
There’s no mistaking the building’s former purpose, however. Berghoff, who says the renovations consisted almost entirely of repainting the interior and stripping away some paneling to expose original wooden beams, is quick to point out the vestiges of the former Nissan dealership.
Old service bays have been repurposed as temporary storage for saplings and shrubbery. Where salesmen closed deals with their customers, supervisors now meet with their crews. A parking lot once full of new cars is now, well, a parking lot, but one full as ever.
Berghoff has successfully rescued his property from decay, restoring it while retaining elements of its original character. Now, he intends to do the same for the street outside his front door.
As chairman of the newly formed Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, Berghoff is spearheading an effort to finally succeed where numerous past bureaucratic efforts have failed, in revitalizing McDowell Road and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The alliance, guided by a four-member board of directors, isn’t using any funds other than what it intends to raise from local businesses and residents who support its mission. It will be independent of any allegiance to the divisive factions at City Hall, and is so laser-focused on its aims that Berghoff declined to take a position on the potential implementation of light rail, calling that prospect too distant to merit comment today.
The group’s specific methods for effecting change remain unclear. About 60 businesses nearby are supportive of the alliance’s mission, Berghoff says, and it’s possible they could agree to offer cross-promotional deals to stimulate spending along the McDowell Road Corridor.
Treasurer Dana Close believes the group can help incite the same contagious passion for neighborhood restoration that she initiated in her Hacienda del Rey community, where residents recently voted to assess themselves $350,000 to improve homes that had fallen into disrepair.
Whether such efforts will work on a broader scale remains to be seen. But it’s refreshing, even inspiring, to hear residents of south Scottsdale do something proactively to improve their beleaguered part of the city.
“McDowell Road doesn’t need to be the laughingstock of Scottsdale anymore,” Berghoff said, correctly pointing out that his part of Scottsdale still boasts more history and character than anywhere else in the city.
McDowell Road was once a point of pride in this city, and it could be again. The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance deserves support for its emerging efforts.