Turn down for Tempe's redevelopment efforts

"As is the case within any generation, Millennials are not all alike."

Pew Research, I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I was so upset when I saw an article in the Arizona Republic purporting that Tempe is one of the best cities for Millennials.

I feel like this is a bold statement to make, considering how diverse the millennial generation seems to be. There just can't be any predictions of the generation other than what most Millennials think.



Our cohort is the most diverse — in terms of opinion, race and socioeconomic standing. However, from the Republic article, it would seem that all Millennials want to do is shop and go to Mill Avenue.

There's certainly more to Tempe than that, and more to the 18- to 33-year-old group.

What's coming to Tempe, however, may make that trend of shopping and upscale development the only option in more and more of Tempe. A new Tempe seeks to propel the demographics into a higher tax bracket, leaving some citizens in the shadow of a wrecking ball as the city grows.

There's a trend in the city of Tempe that redevelopment — presumably to attract this Millennial age group — will go to the highest bidder. We've lost some old favorites that, while not the best option, give us a reason to complain that something better for everyone won't be going in its place.

While not the best for you or the local economy, theIHOP on Apache Boulevard will be missed. Sacks, just south of Mill and University, will be missed.

These places are ghosts, harbingers of a new Tempe, which the original Arizona Republic article leaves out.

This new Tempe is headed in the direction of a higher tax bracket. This will be ultimately good for the city of Tempe's coffers. However, many people will be left out of this new era because of the high-rise, expensive Tempe in the works.

On Ash and University, a "mixed-use" high rise is in the works. This will include a Whole Foods, the bastion of urban renewal. Is a development really mixed-use if it is not open to all to take advantage of it?

This direction, spurred by the influx of money into Tempe, does not take any sort of local or low-income notes from the mixed demographics in the city — or from Millennials, which is sad considering Tempe is apparently ranked highly in its profound ability to attract young people. Nothing about the rough outlines of a castle on Ash and University makes me excited to live here.

Urban renewal, under the guise of a shiny new building, comes at a high price. The city wants its higher tax brackets with the likes of the restaurant Postino and this new high rise but does not take into consideration the local flavor that's made Tempe what it is today.

Unfortunately, there's an overwhelming trend to make this city more about what your pocketbook looks like than what you're willing to bring to the neighborhood.

In 2012, an apartment complex called Encore opened its doors to people older than 55 for affordable, mixed use apartments.

Since then, however, the city and wealthy developers and decision-makers decided that downtown Tempe would be better suited by a Whole Foods than anything local or new.

What the ill-fated Republic article catalyzed was that Millennials wanted all that is upscale and new. Maybe all we really need is some original policymaking that will make us a more inclusive city for the diversity that the Millennial generation brings.


Reach the columnist at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @peternorthfelt

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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