In the children's book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, children witness a series of increasingly bizarre events, including seeing a flock of sheep walk by in their sleep. Those who have repeatedly read the book to children will remember the line "By the light of the moon, by the light of a star, they walked all night from near to far."
Between stadiums, light rail, biotech, and university campuses, I sometimes feel like one of the kids watching one strange turn follow another. Just when you think you've seen everything, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon announces the creation of a new international competition for street performers. Paging Dr. Seuss?
The city's plan to promote tourism in downtown Phoenix by expanding the Civic Plaza and building a hotel near the vicinity suffers from problems both near and far. The "near" problem involves the fact that many will always prefer one of the fantastic private Valley resorts. The "far" problem is that the juggernaut of the convention business lies just a few hours away in Las Vegas.
The competitive Scottsdale and Vegas resorts won't likely be too concerned about competing with downtown Phoenix for tourists. Phoenix taxpayers, however, have every reason to be concerned.
Phoenix has enjoyed remarkable economic success despite, not because of, an infusion of approximately $2.4 billion into downtown since 1989. Downtown boosters continually bemoan downtown Phoenix but can scarcely explain the remarkable economic success of the city despite its lack of a "hip" city center.
Now another $2 to $3 billion is in the works for downtown projects. Phoenix taxpayers may soon feel caught in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.