Team behind Rio Reimagined encourages community involvement

Community involvement and interest in Rio Reimagined, Senator McCain’s legacy project, will help the development process and guide project leaders in the right direction.

The Rio Reimagine project will focus on revitalizing the Salt River area in the cities of Buckeye, Goodyear, Avondale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, and the reservations of the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Phoenix Metro Chapter, Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Arizona Forward encourage interested parties to participate in the Rio Reimagined 2018 Ideas Competition.

The competition calls for Rio Reimagined proposals that will benefit both the river and economic development.  Professional and student architects and urban planners are encouraged to submit proposals intended to assist those leading the project. A panel will review and judge the entries and award the winning proposals.

“It’s a community asset. Once this is done, it needs to have community buy-in,” Cheryl Lombard, Valley Partnership president and CEO, said. “Folks need to learn about it, they need to feel ownership of it and they need to give their ideas.”

Community engagement will help guide the project leaders to the larger vision.

Lombard explained that the Coordination Group, comprised of members from the City of Phoenix, Valley Partnership, Salt River Project, Greater Phoenix Leadership and Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona State University, Arizona Rock Products Association, AZ State Land and Strategic Planning and Budgeting work together to “enable this project to happen because it is such a large scale.”

Valley Partnership, a trade association that represents the interests of the real estate development industry, became involved with the Rio Reimagined project after requests from the late Senator McCain.

“The Senator’s office at that time was really just talking to various stakeholders in the community on their thoughts. ‘Is it a good idea? Is it a bad idea? How can you help?’ That’s how I first got involved, on behalf of Valley Partnership, bringing the development industry.” Lombard said.

The idea for Rio Reimagined was put on the back burner, and Senator McCain wanted to see the idea brought back to life.

“The project area is 58 miles. It’s six cities and two native American communities. That’s a lot,” Lombard said. “But, that is the Senator’s vision and he’s bringing this back to life. Something that was talked about in the sixties and I think it’s especially important for us now to continue enabling it and continue the Senator’s legacy.”

Lombard explained Rio Reimagined is “probably going to be more of an ecosystem, natural area” and “that’s why this connectivity of this 50+ miles, the connectivity of the Rio Reimagined is very important.”

In addition to commercial development, “there’s a lot of other connectivity area that provides multiple benefits. It could be health and recreation, it could be water. That’s what we’re looking at this whole 50-mile area to be about.”

Sierra Ciaramella

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