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My Turn: Optima Kierland is a win for all northeast Phoenix

My Turn: Optima Kierland is a win for all northeast Phoenix

Development in Phoenix is almost invariably controversial. Any major project can be met with skepticism by residents.

However, projects along major streets are vital for our communities as in-fill projects replace outdated or no longer viable operations. These projects rejuvenate aging infrastructure and ensure its long-term sustainability at no cost to the taxpayers.

In District 2, we are proud of our new projects and the economic vitality they bring. Optima Kierland, at Scottsdale Road and Kierland, is one example.

The area around Kierland was designed for this kind of project. Close to the Scottsdale Airpark and surrounded by employers, the site was an underused commercial center with vacant or aging storefronts.

Replacing this outdated corner with a project estimated by economist Elliot Pollack to generate up to $515 million in economic output, is a huge boost for our area. As the project takes shape, it’s bringing positive economic impact to our city and northeast Phoenix.

According to Pollack, consumers want more urban, walkable neighborhoods , so city revenue from the project will be substantial. According to the study, if a hotel is included, revenues will only increase. With a hotel, the project’s 10-year fiscal impact is estimated to be $26.7 million. Without the hotel, they are still a robust $17.9 million.

Optima Kierland will add needed residential units to the employment center that is blossoming in northeast Phoenix. The condos and attached hotel will take approximately four years to build. During that time, new jobs will be created. Roughly 760 direct, indirect and induced jobs will be created on a yearly basis during construction with a hotel, and 680 without. That will mean the creation of more than 3000 jobs that equate to $194 million in total wages over that four-year period.

We welcome projects of this scope in District 2. We have worked hard at the city to become as customer friendly as possible. We still have a long way to go, but we have tried hard to streamline our processes so that businesses know their time won’t be wasted in a lengthy process which makes moving projects to other cities or states an attractive option.

When I arrived at City Hall in 2011, there was little or no activity on the economic development front. Fortunately, that has changed, and we are doing what we can to capitalize on our region’s improved economic outlook and help stimulate growth in Phoenix’s and the region’s economy.

Jim Waring represents District 2 on the Phoenix City Council.

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