Local businessman would like to see park over McDowell Road

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cities always struggle with how to bring more business to declining areas.  There are tax incentives, street improvements and other approaches.  But one group wants Scottsdale to think big, as in the “Big Apple.”

There was a time when McDowell Road was more than just another wide Scottsdale thoroughfare.

“This used to be the automotive epicenter of the Valley,” said Jason Rose, Arizona native and owner of a local public relations firm.

Rose remembers a day when dealerships were full of cars and customers and businesses didn't bear the signs of failed product lines.

“We were inspired by an amazing project in New York City called the High Line Trail,” Rose said.

High Line Trail is a park and recreation area above the streets of New York City
.  It helped bring new life to the West Side of Manhattan.  It used to be an elevated train line.
Indian Bend Wash is a popular recreation area in the south part of Scottsdale.  Rose envisions a Scottsdale High Line Trail starting here, but it would be 15 to 30 feet above McDowell Road.  It would end at Papago Park where there might be an amphitheater with the red rocks as the background.

Local architect Doug Sydnor drew renderings to give people an idea of what the raised park might look like.

Rose acknowledges that Arizona is not New York, but he has reason to believe in big ideas.

“Go look at Tempe Town Lake,” he said.  “Some dreamers there said let's put a big lake in the desert and capital will flock to its banks.  It did.”

Rose sees a problem on McDowell that may get worse.  He thinks property owners need a reason to invest.

“Let's say it meanders right over here,” he said from in front of defunct auto mall.  “It comes right up to the property line.  You build up.  You can walk right out onto it.  It would be amazing.”

The estimated cost of the project is any where from $30 to $60 million.  Rose would like to see it on the ballot by November of 2013.

Rose has been meeting privately with people in the community for months but will take his pitch to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.  The meeting will take place at ASU SkySong Convergence Room SS1 #150 North Building. 

The project website is  www.scottsdalehighlinepark.com  if you want more information.