Saturday, May 26, 2007

Glendale’s Skyscraper

So the Bidwills are building a skyscraper in Glendale.

Does that really surprise anyone? And what does that mean for the City of Glendale? I know emotions run hot regarding the Bidwill family (the owners of the Arizona Cardinals), so anything they do is going to draw a negative public reaction, at least initially. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone is going to be able to accurately predict how this will impact the city; it's going to be a case where hindsight is 20-20. The plans haven't even been drawn up yet, and the project's a long way off, but here are some of my initial thoughts about it (in no particular order).

Positive – the Bidwills are much better businessmen than most people believe. Their football team has been one of the worst-performing teams for decades in all of professional sports, yet they have made a family fortune operating this poorly-performing team.

Negative – the Bidwills have shown, by providing the city with such a lousy football team, that they don't care too much about doing "good by the people." They seem to be in it for themselves.

Negative – I can't think of an example, anywhere in the country, where someone built a huge building in a relatively sparsely populated area, and it turned out to be a great urban/financial/district hub of activity.

Positive – 20 years ago, give or take, the Arizona Biltmore was a quiet area on the northeast corner of 24th St and Camelback, when somebody wanted to build the Esplanade across the street – a giant glass tower that was expected (according to the neighbors and some politicians) to ruin the "feel" of this luxury neighborhood. Now, this intersection is one of the most expensive and highly sought-after in the state, and includes a high-rise condo tower with units selling for $1 million. Could this be a similar start in Glendale?

Negative – 20 years ago the Arizona Biltmore was already world-renown, and this intersection was surrounded in every direction by homes and businesses. The Cardinal Stadium area is still partially surrounded by farming.

Positive – It was only a couple of years ago that the Phoenix Coyotes arena, Glendale Arena at the time, was completed. It was the only building along a 5 mile stretch of the 101, and it looked HUGE. Now you can barely see it hiding among the Cardinals Stadium, West Gate, several under-construction hotels, and a parking structure. If the area continues to develop this fast, we might be ready for a larger-than-life complex.

Positive – this has the potential to draw major businesses to the area, which would continue the domino-like path of additional development. More businesses, high-end office space, resorts, restaurants, and people are what make cities successful.

10 years from now we might be looking at Glendale as a key city in the Southwestern landscape. Or we might be cursing the Bidwills for bungling this project like they've bungled the NFL draft for most of their existence in Phoenix. Time will tell.

- Chris Butterworth