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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

A week or two ago we were advised by IKEA management that they were not going to pursue building a new store in Glendale. The location would have been on the southwest corner of Bethany Home Road and 95th Avenue.

Why, why, oh why, have they gone away? I, personally, am so disappointed. I was so looking forward to our very own IKEA just 5 minutes away. That sure beats over an hour drive to get to the one in the southeast part of the Valley. The current distance to its only location was a shopping killer for me. I visit the current location once a year, if that.

There was so much pent up demand and excitement in the West Valley. I can’t tell you the number of people who have personally shared their excitement about its coming to Glendale. Everyone was disappointed with their recent announcement. Apparently IKEA had planned to build 10 new stores in the United States. All have been scrapped. Why?

Well, IKEA has decided it wants to migrate to an E-Commerce business allowing consumers to purchase their merchandise online. They are going to completely revamp their business model. It wasn’t that Glendale had been obstructionist or done something to chase them away. To the contrary, they praised Glendale for its effectiveness and ability to work with them in an expeditious manner. They liked Glendale and were happy to do business with us.

As many may know, Glendale committed to building 95th Avenue between Bethany Home Road and Camelback to provide easy access to IKEA. Construction will be complete by the time football season begins this August. 95th Avenue is still important to the city despite IKEA’s departure. It opens up another very valuable access to the University of Phoenix Stadium and all of Westgate. It should alleviate the tremendous traffic loading on 91st Avenue and make many local residents happy. Now people can park at the new lot on the south side of Bethany and use a new pedestrian bridge or tunnel to cross Bethany into the Westgate area.

It also makes the acreage that IKEA would have used very, very valuable and allows the city to pick and choose which project a developer brings to the table as being the best fit for the area and the city. There is already interest in the IKEA site and the possibilities are exciting and will add value to the city and to the area.

Yes, we are all disappointed that IKEA will not be coming and wish that the company’s senior leadership would revisit their decision but we are confident that the land will be developed with something equally meaningful to all stakeholders.

Bye IKEA. We will miss you and wish you well. Yet we are excited about the new opportunities their decision has created and look forward to the next chapter for such a prime parcel.

Part of the 95th Avenue project includes a bridge spanning the Grand Canal and the Linear Park as well as a tunnel below Bethany Home Road. There has been lots of progress on the pedestrian bridge. As you can see in the first picture the bridge across the canal is about as simple as it can get. The second picture shows the bridge that spans the Linear Park way to the stadium. The third picture is not very clear but they already have the tunnel built under Bethany home Road and you can see the top of the structure. The roadway in that area is elevated approximately 3 to 4 feet.

By the way here are a few photos of the progress on Top Golf’s construction:

As you can see, with or without IKEA, Glendale and most particularly the Westgate area continues its unparalleled  growth in activity.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the Glendale city council approved a Settlement Agreement with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Arizona Cardinals. Here is the link to the background material on the proposal: https://glendale-az.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2881276&GUID=C07EFD4F-664C-4A92-98FF-A23BF1C88B39&Options=&Search=&FullText=1 . Here is the link to the Settlement Agreement in full: final-settlement-agreement-11102016 .

The major points of the settlement are:

·       It settles an outstanding legal claim of $67 million dollars in damages initiated in 2012 by the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Cardinals by paying them jointly $14 million over the next 5 years.

·       It creates $3 million dollars of infrastructure to enable pedestrians to cross Bethany Home Road without impeding the traffic on Bethany Home.

·       It includes construction of 95th Avenue from Bethany to Camelback Road at a cost of $3 million.

If I were on city council I would have approved the settlement. Let’s look at it point by point. I want to make clear since my election was not funded by special interests, my prime directive, based on being fully informed of the pros and cons, is to make the best possible decisions that I believe are in the city’s best interests. This would have been one of them.

Over the weekend, I downloaded the entire proposed 135 page settlement agreement, read it, made notations, and then was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to sit down with the City Manager to get any and all of my questions answered. The current councilmembers have had the luxury of discussion and information about settlement negotiations for the past two months.

At first I was angry thinking here we go again, paying millions more to support sports in our town. Are we nuts? After I calmed down, I started to really think about it. Yes, we could reject the settlement and the $67 million dollar claim would have wended its way through the court system….for a year? two years? There is, of course, no way of predicting the outcome but I will say the city’s track record of late, has not been one to inspire confidence in a city win. If the city had lost, it would have had to pay out $67 million plus not just its attorneys’ fees but the claimants’ attorneys’ fees as well.

It’s also a matter of doing the right thing. The city had the obligation to live up to its contractual agreement of providing 11,000 parking spaces, per the Parking License Agreement and other documents from 2005, over a decade ago.

The $14 million in damages is, of course, an onerous pill to swallow but it’s better than $67 million. It is my understanding that this $14 million will be used for upgrades at the Stadium Plaza and the stadium interior. The city was also able to structure payments over the next five years making it fiscally manageable. The city is no longer obligated to construct a $50 million dollar parking garage… ever. This agreement settles all parking claims forever.

Why is an underpass under Bethany Home Road and bridges over the SRP Canal and the Grand Canal Linear Park necessary? When the stadium and transportation infrastructure was originally built the intent was to drive vehicular traffic from the west and the north toward the stadium. However, when the city has completed both parking lots (one east of the stadium and one south of the stadium), masses of pedestrians will be crossing Bethany Home Road. If they proceeded on the surface street, Bethany Home Road, the pedestrian traffic would essentially block all vehicular traffic. Now that a major portion of fans (6,000 parking spaces) will be parking south and east of the stadium it becomes a necessity.

Lastly, let’s look at 95th Avenue. Another city promise broken for over a decade. This arterial opens up land for commercial development, especially on the west side of 95th Avenue between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road. There will be new commercial properties locating along that arterial which, in turn, will generate more sales tax revenue for the city. It also puts to rest the alignment of 95th Avenue. It will now curve away from the Pendergast Estates neighborhood and will not connect to the neighborhood’s three interior streets of Missouri, Marshall and San Juan. For years as councilmember I advocated for just such a solution for this neighborhood. I am pleased to know the city has taken their concerns seriously and has devised an alignment to protect this neighborhood.

These reasons persuaded me that approval of the Settlement was the right thing to do: 1. fulfillment of the city’s long-standing contractual obligation; 2. avoidance of a possible $67 million dollar verdict; 3. mitigating pedestrian movement as a result of the installation of two new, massive parking lots; and 3. bringing closure and surety on the 95th Avenue alignment to the Pendergast Estates neighborhood.

What was city council’s decision? Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmembers Malnar and Tolmachoff voted in favor of the settlement. All councilmembers spoke before casting their votes and this majority of four recited variations of the reasons cited above. Councilmembers Turner, Aldama and Chavira voted against the settlement. They did not cite flaws in the settlement as their reason for disapproval. Why? Because even they know this settlement is acceptable. No, they used the theme of transparency and that the public was not given enough time to weigh in. It was, in all probability, a smoke screen so that they would have time to marshal their activist anti-settlement forces to march on down to council chambers.

While these three councilmembers  professed that they wanted to strengthen their relationships with the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority and the Cardinals, it had been circulated that Aldama and Turner refused to meet with AZSTA and Cardinal representatives. Instead they gave both organizations the back of their hands. Surprisingly, disgraced and recalled former Councilmember Gary Sherwood showed up to berate this council for lacking transparency while asking for more time for council’s consideration. It seems that he did not consider two months of negotiation to be enough. Rampant conjecture is that three of them (Turner, Aldama and Sherwood) are using issues such as this to raise their level of visibility in order to position themselves for a run for mayor four years from now.

I do see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s time to bury the past. The city manager and a majority of the council are to be congratulated for having made decisions that are designed to position Glendale forward and to clean up Glendale’s sports deals with its decade-old refusals to live up to its commitments. Make no mistake, former City Manager Ed Beasley and former Mayor Scruggs were very much aware of these obligations and refused to make good on them. Minority councilmembers such as me and Councilmember Lieberman were simply not privy to their inaction.

With the announcement of the Coyotes entrance into negotiations for an arena in the east valley I think it is time to do another blog on what this might mean. Look for my next blog which will be devoted to this topic.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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