An Old Town without art? Gallery owners say parking and development threaten arts district
Lorraine Longhi, Arizona Republic
Bob Pejman looks across the street from his Old Town Scottsdale art gallery at the businesses that have sprung up in recent years.
A real estate office. An escape room. A massage parlor. All have replaced art galleries, says the owner of Pejman Gallery, off Main Street and Marshall Way.
Scottsdale’s famous arts district featured more than 100 galleries before the recession, he says. Today, 47 are left, according to the arts district website.
While multiple factors led to the decline galleries, Pejman says two culprits are exacerbating the issue today: city leaders short on vision for the types of development in the area and not enough parking to accommodate planned projects.
“Fifty to seventy percent of the gallery business is tourism,” Pejman said. “All of these that come here to shop that can’t find parking, they’re just going to go home.”
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said that the city is working to solve parking concerns, but that multiple factors have led to a decline in galleries.
“It’s not just about parking,” Lane said. “If they’re meeting the market and they are evolving, they may stand a better chance of surviving.”
Is parking convenient?
Parking is free in Old Town, but the parking spaces are city-owned and not allocated for specific businesses.
The arts district, which spans four blocks, has approximately 693 public parking spaces, according to a city-commissioned parking study from 2015. The study found that parking in the arts district was sufficient, and that most of the parking in the area appeared to serve the immediate businesses.
However, the study recognized that available spaces in Old Town might not be easy to find and that patrons and employees may need to park down the street or several blocks from their destination.
The city recently spent $230,000 on Parker, an app that alerts visitors to open parking spots in Old Town.