Wednesday, May 27, 2009

West Valley gaining an undeserved reputation

Note: This column appears in the 5/28 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 5/29 issue of the Peoria Times

The West Valley is like that new kid in high school who is trying to keep up with all the rich kids. So they go to the store and put a whole bunch of spiffy new clothes on layaway, and then go home only to find out that mom and dad both lost their jobs.

Nobody can really pay for the clothes, but darn it –- that kid is going to look good for a few weeks. They’ll worry about the rest later.

For the West Valley, later is now. We’ve got a whole bunch of new stuff -– with the tags still on it –- that we can’t afford. And we can’t return it, because the store is no longer there.

I hope you enjoyed that exhausted metaphor. Less metaphorically speaking, Glendale was given two professional sports franchises, and is on the brink of losing one of them. Thank God the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl and exist within the cash cow that is the NFL. The courts and whatever billionaires are still left around here will decide the Coyotes’ fate.

Should the Coyotes leave, Glendale will be left with a brand spankin’ new arena with nobody to play inside. (Except Yanni, who I think is playing next month, and who just may turn this whole thing around with one magnificent performance.) And though I doubt the arena will ever be plastered with “For Lease” signs, it should nevertheless fit in nicely within the sea of vacant strip malls and stalled construction zones.

Speaking of malls, Peoria discovered last month that General Growth Properties -– the owner of the Park West Shopping Center -– had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Park West was originally constructed as a worthy adversary to popular Scottsdale spots like Kierland Commons and Fashion Square. But without a foundation of luxury –- coupled with the fact that so few people even knew Park West existed –- helped get this project off to a rough start.

Up next for a West Valley obviously unwilling to spend frivolously: a new casino.

Well, maybe. Regardless, what is next for an area all dressed up with no place to go?

That’s difficult to say. But while many may buy into the perception of the West Valley thus reflected in my wisely-crafted opening metaphor, I do not believe this area is being penalized for attempting to be something that its not.

What the West Valley was trying to be –- and what it will be someday soon –- is something better for all of us. An area to proud of, to boast about. It’s not that Glendale can’t support a hockey team, or that Peoria cannot sustain upscale shopping. It’s just that nobody was able to foresee getting caught in the eye of this perfect economic storm.

Things will indeed turn around. When they do, we’ll be better for it. And when that day comes, I am going to celebrate by going out to Park West for lobster, and then I am going to buy my wife a ridiculously overpriced handbag.

After a Yanni concert, of course.

Because that guy is awesome.

No comments: