A BRIEF HISTORY
No other area of Scottsdale has been through more ups and downs than the McDowell Road Corridor.
Southern Scottsdale has a rich heritage and character to match.
In 1960 the road through the Papago Buttes opened, making McDowell Road one of only two east-west streets that connected the East Valley and Phoenix. That connection helped make McDowell Road a corridor of retail activity.
Los Arcos, the Valley’s first indoor mall, was built at the corner of Scottsdale and McDowell Roads in 1969. Papago Plaza on the southwest corner of the intersection and El Dorado Park, the city’s first major park, were also built in the 1960’s.
For 30 years McDowell Road boomed. It had one of the highest 24-hour traffic counts of any road in the Valley. So it didn’t take long for it to become a mecca for auto dealerships, which gave McDowell Road a new moniker: Motor Mile.
The sun eventually set on Los Arcos, where for 20 years families had shopped, dined or dropped in just to get out of the heat. The mall was demolished in 2000. After eight years of political angst with the land sitting idle, a new era of economic development was ushered in on the site where the former majestic mall once stood.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SkySong opened its doors in 2008.
Also known as Arizona State University’s Innovation Center, SkySong is an incubator for businesses from Scottsdale, the state and all around the world. It gives businesses and entrepreneurs access to new technologies and capital networks, and provides business services and a variety of programs that assist companies to grow.
SkySong is now in the forth phase of its seven-phase development. Its sprawling office space is currently operating at 98% of its capacity. It has helped create 2,000 jobs and features offices occupied by businesses representing 14 different countries. When SkySong is built out, it is projected to have generated $8 billion in economic benefits to the city.
The success of SkySong offers optimism about the kinds of projects that could succeed on McDowell Road. It may be the staging ground for a new center of commerce for the city – for instance, a high-tech center similar to Silicon Valley. It could also be the home of educational institutions’ branch campuses for vocational and specialized professional training.
The economic development possibilities for McDowell Road are infinite and the potential to revitalize it is unlimited.