When Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton took office four years ago, downtown Phoenix was, as he put it, a work in progress.
When developer Tim Sprague bought his first plot of land near Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street, his colleagues in the real estate industry told him he was crazy.
And, when Greg Esser joined with some other artists to start a downtown Phoenix art walk, he was among the few who called the run-down area home.
But Stanton, Sprague and Esser may just have the last laugh now.
Since 2004, $4.7 billion has been invested in downtown Phoenix, reinvigorating an area that was once known for vacant lots, shabby buildings and empty streets and sidewalks.
The area has experienced an unprecedented resurgence in recent years, as the light rail and a slew of university campuses have surged into the area. And it’s happened faster than even its most ardent supporters predicted.
“We understand how important it is to have a strong center city,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “The fact that we’re urbanizing, we’re developing this awesome center city, is one of the reasons that I have so much optimism about our future.”
ABC15 tracked this rapid growth in the heart of the Valley, mapping every development that’s broken ground in downtown Phoenix since 2008 and talking to some of the key players involved in making downtown’s resurgence a reality.
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BY THE NUMBERS
We partnered with nonprofit development group Downtown Phoenix, Inc. to put this exponential growth into numbers:
The less than 2 square-mile area of downtown Phoenix has experienced $4.7 billion in development between 2004 and 2015.
There are almost 3,000 residential units in development or under construction and more than 1,000 more pending requests for proposals.
The area is about to get 1.1 million more square feet of hotels, retail and educational space and 600 more hotel rooms.
Sales taxes from hotels, stores, restaurants and bars have gone up 92 percent since 2008.
More than 12,500 college students have moved in, as Arizona State University, the University of Arizona’s medical school and Eller College of Management, Northern Arizona State University’s Allied Health Program, Summit Law School, Rio Salado Community College and Phoenix College have opened up in the neighborhood.
And, since, 2008, the area has netted 60 new restaurants.