Both the flag and the seal of the City of Scottsdale feature a cowboy on a bucking bronco. The City slogan is the “West’s Most Western Town.”
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
Fifty years ago when Scottsdale was in fact an authentic western themed town, Bonanza, GunSmoke and Death Valley Days were on network TV, True Grit and The Wild Bunch were tops at the Movies. Back then, kids wanted to play cowboys and Indians (remember Cap Pistols?) Arizona was ripe with the legend and lore of the old west.
Well now, John Wayne is dead, Clint Eastwood does not look so good and Luke Skywalker’s kids are now running the store. The bucking bronco on the city seal has left the corral!
Currently, bars and night clubs that at night are packed with young millennials (not one of them wearing a Bolo Tie) proliferate throughout Old Town. Now, a cocktail shaker or martini glass would probably be a better symbol for Scottsdale.
Each year, world class events such as the Phoenix Open; Barrett Jackson Auto Show and baseball’s Spring Training, bring in excess of a million visitors to our town. They fill our hotels; eat in our 4-star restaurants and frequent Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Some of them even visit the trinket and T-shirts shop of Fifth Avenue. The problem is, they are not buying anything in Old Town. If they did, shops would not be closing up as quickly as they are.
To understand why these shops are failing, all anyone need do is visit Fashions Square’s newly remodeled wing. The mall owners realize that today’s shopper needs to be excited about the shopping experience. The run down, dilapidated store fronts on Fifth Avenue offer none of the exciting retail opportunities today’s young shoppers are seeking.
Into this retail reality steps Carter Unger with his Southbridge 2. A $750 million dollar endeavor that, once built, will completely revitalize Old Town and create a place where people will want to visit, stay and even buy a place to live.
Passed by both the city Planning Commission and City Council, this planned project has created a fire storm of protests on both social media and the local newspapers.
A large group of north Scottsdale residents headed by a frustrated former city councilman has even gone so far as to mount a voter referendum to stop the project. They are trying, with all of their skills and fear mongering, to halt all growth and in doing so insure the demise of Old Town.
They are clearly afraid of the future and are trying to cling to the past. They do not realize that when you hold on to the past, you are depriving yourself of the opportunity to fully experience the present.
It seems as if a large number of or cities residents have come down with a serious case of Chronophobia which is defined as “the persistent and often irrational fear of the future.”
This new reality is why you will find few if any young adults supporting the no growth referendum, as young people are excited by the future. Even this week, they are lining up to see the latest Star Wars film after which, many will visit the local Apple Store and probably purchase a $250 AirPod Pro.
Then off to the club district. Not one of them is looking for a squash blossom necklace or a painting of some cowboys sitting around a camp fire.
The merchants of Fifth Avenue need to come to the realization that it is time for them and all of their supporters Scottsdale to let go and embrace the future.
Editor’s Note: Larry Kush is a member of the Scottsdale Planning Commission.