There could be a few changes coming soon to Downtown Scottsdale—$6 million dollars’ worth of changes, to be precise—if the city’s 2016-2017 budget is approved on June 7. The goal? To attract more tourists and locals to the area.
Probably the most visible change will be additional events and entertainment. City officials have earmarked $300,000 for free Western shows and street entertainers performing acts such as juggling, singing, acrobatics, and magic tricks. Watch for these entertainers to start strolling the streets around the winter holidays, which mark the beginning of the Valley’s tourist season.
Assuming the proposed budget passes, you can expect:
- Improved lighting: The budget includes $831,000 to install electric conduit and outlets on downtown light poles for more ambient lighting and to add street lights along Marshall Way between Goldwater Boulevard and Fifth Avenue.
- Public restrooms: Additional public restrooms are proposed on Main Street. City officials are hoping to build these on city-owned land between existing buildings.
- Improved sidewalks: Four million dollars will go towards a 2-year project to improve downtown sidewalks. Transportation director Paul Basha indicated in an Arizona Republic article that the expense is due to the extensive work required to make many curbs, ramps and paths more accessible for those using wheelchairs.
- Renovations to Civic Center Mall: Repairs and upgrades are planned for Civic Center Mall to make it more suitable for large-scale tourism events.
For more details, you can download a copy of the proposed 2016-2017 budget here. The budget is expected to be adopted without issue on June 7 by the City Council; the new budget year begins July 1.
These proposed changes are the result of Scottsdale area hotel concierges suggesting that more entertainment in Downtown Scottsdale would create a better experience for tourists, said Karen Churchard, Scottsdale’s director of tourism and events, in the Arizona Republic article.
In that same article, Pam Gilbert, director of sales and marketing at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, said the hotel’s concierges often refer guests to Downtown Scottsdale, but she indicates the proposed changes would help make it more of a destination.
“We would love to see a more activated downtown area with more entertainment, amenities and walkability for visitors,” Gilbert said. “It’s more important to the destination long-term that we continue to enhance the downtown experience.”
Plans are already underway to enhance that experience. For starters, city tourism officials will begin to market February as the “Western month” since it coincides with already popular Scottsdale events like the Hashknife Pony Express and Prada del Sol. The multi-day Parada del Sol draws thousands of visitors to the area.
As the article points out, Scottsdale is already introducing street performers, including two Western entertainers in Old Town. “Johnny Hotshot” performs a one-man Western show of trick shooting, rope twirling, and whip cracking on Saturdays from October through March at the Civic Center Plaza near Brown Avenue.
Gary Sprague, who calls himself “Arizona’s Singing Cowboy, performs from the back of his horse, Dusty, on Saturday afternoons from November through April. (He finishes his act by riding Dusty into the Rusty Spur Saloon on Main Street.)
If the budget passes, others performers are sure to follow soon.