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Commentary

Downtown evolves with private, public entities in tandem

by Niels Kreipke

Chandler has many traits that set it apart from other Valley cities, but one aspect of the city that stands out is our downtown. As one of the oldest downtowns in the Phoenix metro area, downtown Chandler is constantly evolving and improving due to a unique situation of both public and private entities simultaneously investing millions into the historic area to make it a dining, shopping and entertainment destination for years to come. Interestingly, downtown Chandler has come a long way, especially in the last 13 years. Many longtime Chandler

residents remember downtown in the ‘80s and early ‘90s with boarded up storefronts and dilapidated historic structures. At the time, residents did not view downtown as their preferred place to spend free time like Chandler’s founding fathers envisioned. In the late ‘90s, things started to change. Developers, such as myself, saw great potential in the area, as did the city government and some small business owners. Since this time, many individuals have invested resources and countless hours developing downtown into what it is today – an emerging entertainment district filled with one-of-a-kind dining, shopping, events, golf -- and more.

Now, more than ever, is an exciting time for downtown Chandler. The mayor and city council have made significant investments over the years, most recently in a new LEED Certified City Hall and Arizona Avenue beautification improvements, which are currently under construction, as well as the newly completed state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club. The road improvements will create downtown’s signature gateway with more pedestrian-friendly features like wider sidewalks that includes elegant furniture and art pads as well as a four-lane street with new streetlights, shorter crosswalks and lush landscaping. Downtown urban living, a fairly new concept to downtown Chandler, has added a new element with projects like San Marcos Commons, a mixed-use project that my company is building at the corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard, and 123 Washington townhomes. Because of the collaborations and support of

Letters

the downtown redevelopment effort over the last 13 years, downtown Chandler has become an exciting and contributing center to this great city and a major destination in the East Valley.

After years of investments and improvements to the historic infrastructures, small businesses are flocking to downtown and resulting in the highest commercial occupancy rates throughout Chandler. The dining experiences are some of the most diverse in the Valley, ranging from traditional restaurants such as wine bars and a microbrewery pub to ethnic restaurants including Thai, Japanese, Italian, Irish, Mexican and more. Family-friendly festivals and events like the Farmer’s Market, Chandler Jazz Festival and annual car show continue to grow. Downtown is also becoming a popular choice for private events at locales like Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort or Inspirador for weddings, conferences and small conventions.

Without this public and private collaboration, this evolution might never have happened. A special thank you to our current mayor and council, as well as city leadership for their vision, commitment and perseverance in making downtown viable again. So many city and business leaders had the foresight to see the potential in downtown Chandler and today that vision has become a reality. Over the next years, downtown will continue to evolve with exciting new infill projects that will enhance this destination, creating a critical mass of restaurants and shops as well as adding a range of residential styles. The future downtown will draw visitors from further distance who are looking for that truly unique experience.

Niels Kreipke is the president of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to mobilize leadership and resources to advance the development of downtown Chandler as a regional destination for shopping, dining, living, culture, and the arts. Kreipke is also the co-owner of Desert Viking companies, developer of San Marcos Commons, a $100 million mixed-use development with high-end urban residential town homes as well as numerous historic rehabilitation projects throughout the Valley.

Opinion

May 1 - 14, 2010

35

to theEditor

Vote yes on Prop 100

As president of the Arizona Highway

Patrol Association, I represent the dedicated and professional men and women of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. I, like many DPS employees, chose the profession of law enforcement for one primary ambition: to serve the citizens of Arizona. I have seen firsthand what criminal elements can and will do to harm our loved ones. Arizonans have had proactive, engaged officers to help decrease crime.

Officers are honored to give citizens a peace of mind that we will be there to help them when needed. However, over the last year our great state has had to cut billions of dollars, resulting in significant changes to the way DPS operates. DPS has endured cuts over the last two years equating to $116 million, forcing our department to function with slim essential services and personnel. This has meant a continued shortage of highway patrol officers.

Other enforcement units within the agency which have also been reduced or eliminated due to budget cuts includes the fraudulent Task Force, which targets criminals intent on stealing your identity. Additionally the vehicle theft unit has been cut in almost half. Despite these shortages in manpower coupled with funding cuts, the dedicated personnel of DPS continue to do their job professionally and with pride.

A temporary revenue source is a must for our state because core government responsibilities, like public safety, must be funded adequately.

Otherwise the state would be forced to deal with 2010 crimes, 2010 prison counts at 2004 era funding levels. If Prop 100 fails, DPS is expecting another $10.9 million cut from our 2011 budget, which will likely result in the layoff of hundreds of officers and support staff. The significant consequence of further cuts to DPS will more than likely be increased response times for highway patrol officers and other enforcement units. What this ultimately means is serious long-term damage to Arizona’s communities, neighborhoods, schools and other services. As a father of two, and a police officer, I cannot let that happen.

No Arizona citizen wants to be taxed more than we already are in these economic times. Families, like mine, have had to make changes in order to deal with our fiscal downturn. By supporting Proposition 100, you are helping to secure the safety and security of Arizona citizens in the future with a temporary solution.

Jimmy Chavez, president of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association

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