Historical Overview, Current and Future
Originally inhabited by Hohokam Indians and developed as an agricultural area by Chaplain Winfield Scott, Scottsdale was incorporated in 1951. A few years later in 1956, a Life magazine article called Scottsdale “one of the most desirable communities in the West,” helping to contribute to the city’s population boom. Another boost to Scottsdale’s reputation came in 1993, when the U.S. Conference of Mayors named it the “Most Livable City.” Today, South Scottsdale is a diverse community known around the world for its arts culture, trendy nightclubs, and western character. Future prospects in South Scottsdale include massive revitalization projects and city beautification efforts, ensuring Scottsdale’s status as one of the Valley’s most desirable places to live, work, and play.
New Developments and Trends
Because South Scottsdale is surrounded by communities on all sides, open space for development is limited. A report released in 2003 by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy ("Which Way Scottsdale?") urged city leaders to attract high-tech employment and make the most of its proximity to ASU. This encouraged the city to focus its efforts on redeveloping the southern part of the city, and today the Scottsdale City Council states that the revitalization of the southern portion of Scottsdale is its “number one priority.” As a result, total investment in rebuilding the area totals more than $3 billion in recent years. This new investment has been in all sectors: residential, office, retail, hotels, and cultural ventures. Major new residential, retail, and office projects include the Scottsdale Waterfront, ASU – Scottsdale Innovation Center, and various “Old Town” rebuilding projects. A positive outcome of the renaissance taking place in South Scottsdale is seen in home appreciation rates; average home appreciation values here outpace those in North Scottsdale, Phoenix, and nearly all other areas of the Valley, according to the ASU Arizona Real Estate Center.
South Scottsdale’s population can be described as diverse. With some of the area’s most mature neighborhoods, many residents come from families that have lived in the area for generations. Due to the revitalization efforts and the emphasis on arts and entertainment, South Scottsdale’s population includes a substantial number of young adults. Forty-four percent (44%) of the city’s total population lives in South Scottsdale, where the median income is slightly above that of Maricopa County. On average, Scottsdale’s property taxes are 33% lower than neighboring cities, and sales tax rates are the lowest in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Crime rates are lower in South Scottsdale than in other parts of the Valley. Most children in South Scottsdale attend schools in the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley Unified School Districts, noted for their numerous educational programs and high achievement rates. Many private and parochial schools are also available in the area.
Entertainment, Shopping, Recreation
A city’s quality of life is often measured by its commitment to entertainment and recreation. South Scottsdale offers a vast array of opportunities for these activities. Affectionately called the “Arts District,” the Old Town area possesses more than 100 art galleries all within walking distance of each other. Numerous museums and historical sites, including “The Little Red Schoolhouse,” and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are also located in this area. Live productions especially designed for children are presented year-round at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which is also home to the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra. After dark, the Old Town district transforms into a sea of young adults patronizing the trendiest nightclubs, as Scottsdale solidifies its reputation as a place to “see and be seen.” South Scottsdale is the spring training site of the San Francisco Giants, and Cactus League games are played at Scottsdale Stadium. South Scottsdale’s close proximity to Arizona State University allows residents easy access to college sporting events. The area’s best shopping can be found downtown or at the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt offers outdoor recreation activities, such as walking, bicycling, fishing, and people watching. Nearby Papago Park is popular with hikers.
Popular Community Activities
Due in part to its pleasant weather, Scottsdale’s community events calendar is full of activity. The signature event of South Scottsdale is the Scottsdale Artwalk, which takes place every Thursday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 in the downtown pedestrian mall. During this weekly event, downtown art galleries open their doors to the public, highlighting the spectacular work of the Southwest’s most outstanding artists. At the culmination of the Parada del Sol festival in February, South Scottsdale hosts “the world’s longest horse-drawn parade,” heading north on Scottsdale Road to downtown. In April, the longest running culinary festival in the U.S., the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, attracts more than 40,000 participants looking to enjoy extraordinary food, fun, and festivities. Another wildly popular event, “Mighty Mud Mania,” occurs each July in Chaparral Park. During this event, which concludes the city’s Parks and Recreation Summer Program, children are encouraged to get dirty with a variety of mud-themed activities.
Scottsdale offers its residents the advantages of a warm, dry climate. In a typical year, there are 314 sunny days and 7.66 inches of precipitation. January high temperatures average 67°F, and in July the normal high temperature is 105°F. Relatively low humidity helps create a comfortable temperature year-round.
Although the majority of commercial development is located in the downtown area, local businesses also thrive in more residential sections of South Scottsdale. Downtown businesses include family-owned companies, restaurants and nightclubs, boutiques, and galleries. “The Motor Mile,” along McKellips Road and Scottsdale Road, offers a wide assortment of automobile merchants, from economy manufacturers to luxury makes. General Dynamics C4 Systems, manufacturer of secure communications technology, has an operations plant and headquarters in South Scottsdale. In its Community Profile Brochure, the city promises a firm commitment to building partnerships and supporting the business community, by offering corporate advantages not found in other Valley cities.
With continued growth in the Phoenix metropolitan area, it is too often that “sameness” occurs in new developments. The South Scottsdale area offers a diversity not found elsewhere in the Valley. From traditional Spanish-style architecture to 1960’s art deco to modernistic architectural styles (and everything in between), the eyes never get tired of viewing landscapes and cityscapes in South Scottsdale. This type of diversity is echoed in the community’s residents, who run the gamut of young professionals, college students, family-minded workers, business owners, and medical professionals. This diversity creates an energy in the community that is unmatched elsewhere and gives South Scottsdale a character all its own.