Gangplank Looking To Move Downtown

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We are starting to outgrow our current space in a number of ways.  It is not uncommon for every office/meeting space to be occupied.  We have more groups requesting access to the conference rooms, main room and pod cast studio.  It seems like at least once a week we get someone asking how they can be more involved and have a permanent desk.  Every anchor company seems to currently be hiring and looking to expand.  We are actively turning new anchor companies away as we don’t have dedicated space for them.

When we first started Gangplank we took advantage of an existing situation to get the ball rolling.  Our first move mostly had to do with getting the most bang for our buck physically.  However, this time we know that we are growing in more ways than size.  We know that certain things are important to us.  We understand that being in a box mall or industrial park doesn’t fit where we want to be.  We definitely want to be at the heart of things and in a walkable space.  This means we want to be downtown.

We are currently considering downtown Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.  It is imperative that where ever we land that we find a city that is looking for community involvement.  A city that wants to work with us and not against us in working towards a new economy.  A community that understands that the future is changing and is willing to help bridge talent gaps.  We want a home that embraces the 3 T’s.. Talent, Tolerance and Technology. Ultimately we are looking for these five characteristics as a starting point.

1. Committed to infill and urban density.

The city should be actively looking for land resources and vacant buildings for reuse.  Placing the right business not just any business in them to help encourage additional infill.  They should be making it easier for a business, home owner to infill than to continue suburban growth.  It should be updating it’s general plan to include higher density and creative mixed use in it’s urban area.  It must have a plan to keep housing affordable when the boom starts back up.

2. Committed to the creative class.

The city should be doing everything possible to revitalize areas rich in history.  It should have an aggressive urban design plan that puts an emphasis on architecture.  It needs to be actively encouraging an eclectic environment for entrepreneurs, creative types and small businesses.  It needs to place priority on libraries, museums, performing arts as part of its economic development.  It needs to have tax incentives for property owners and arts in it’s art district.

3. Committed to innovation.

The city should house one or more technology corridors, including big, medium and small high tech and bio medical companies.  It should be looking at other super-regions for inspiration, but implementing their own unique solutions.  It shouldn’t have a single innovation center but rather a hub of innovation.  It should have connections to major universities.  It should have room for incubators and start-ups in it’s plans.  It should be considering start-up condos to get local companies more invested in the city.  It should be partnering with established high tech companies in the area.

4. Committed to being connected.

The city should have flowing parks, open spaces, downtown, civic space and neighborhoods that make sense.  People of varying lifestyles should be able to enjoy their style of living, but easily transition into other parts of the city.  It should be engaging in designs that make the city walkable in community oriented spaces while connecting the community spaces with bikeways and public transportation.  The city should be connected to the light-rail to make access to the metro area seamless.

5. Committed to being a significant player in a new mega-region

The city can not be content with just doing well for itself.  It has to have an eye on being a central part of the emerging mega-region (Phoenix to Tucson).  It should be the technology and creative class leader of this region.  It should be focused on uniting ASU and U of A together.  It should be forging lasting relationships with connecting cities in the mega-region.

We are not sure any city lives up to these requirements yet, but at least we have a starting point when discussing whether a city is a good fit for us or not.  Often times people think because we have no formal heavy structure or chain of command that we don’t do any planning.  The truth is because we don’t have any formal structure we have the ability to do more long term planning than most.  We want our next move to not be a change in building, but a change in opportunity.  We want our next home to be a partner that gets it and is looking to pull away from the rest of the metro Phoenix as a true leader in the next twenty years.

33 thoughts on “Gangplank Looking To Move Downtown

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  4. Hello Group,

    I can agree with wanting to move to a larger building, but how about staying in the vicinity where you are? For this reason, I have to agree with Jade and say Mesa, especially if the bandwidth backbone checks out underground.

    1) You are not too far from ASU (Tempe) or the ASU Polytechnic (which is where the future expansion of ASU is slated to be.) There are lots of alternative energy and new programs going on out there at ASU Polytechnic, near Power Road and the SouthEast end of the 202 curve. Phoenix is a loooonnnng way from ASU Polytechnic.

    2) Intel is in Chandler. General Dynamics is just up the street from you now. Both are high-tech visibility companies. People look for signs….these are some of them. There are lots of start-ups and new tech companies in neighboring Chandler and Tempe. TIE-AZ meets in this area, along with the Arizona Nanotechnology cluster-Phoenix group.

    3) Honeywell is in Tempe, not to mention lots of bandwidth underground to support emerging tech companies. Not all parts of the city have the backbone to support the possibility of servers, etc. but Tempe does, and it has a city supported wireless system in place. If Mesa has the equivalent, you are in business.

    4) Tempe is taking an active interest in helping new companies move to the area, just ask Ken Losch why he chose Mill Avenue to build his high rise condominiums. And guess what, there are development plans in store for the old mill on Mill Avenue. (Lots of history there) but this is very expensive real estate. The next best thing would be Mesa. I heard they are actively giving tax breaks for new companies. I bet if you approached the Mesa City Council, you might request and get some of the tax breaks I know I’ve heard mentioned by some others I am acquainted with.

    5) If you choose to move, be certain to be careful where you move actually has the T1 line (or T3 for that matter) you need to support you and the development geeks. I had a T1 line to the home office, and while we were paying for it in Gilbert, near the high school, the CNET bandwidth reader said we were still only getting DSL level BW. In other words, they will sell it to you, even if it cannot be physically delivered, so be careful there! We ended that contract based on the undeliverability of their promise. Test it first before moving in and signing on the dotted line! I would love to see Gangplank have their own server room if they don’t already. (OneNeck needs the competition.)

    6) The Mesa Mayor is actively supporting Green Building and Alternative Energy. There are some engineering firms with a long term history of alternative energy and green building who have been in Mesa, long before it all became “trendy.” ETA Engineering, and Dependable Solar have been doing solar and adapting to the latest in technology for 30 years or so, not to mention many others. Plans are in store for the first “off the grid” storage building to be built in Mesa as well, which will sell back power to the city.

    7) The location is ideal for both airports. While Sky Harbor is about 20 minutes away or so, the Williams Gateway is a great little airport that has commercial flights coming and going too. Imagine where development is directed based on traffic patterns for cities, look at the freeways in place on the East side, and the limitation of development facing the West side with Luke AFB. To get the best value for your property and still maintain a central characteristic, Mesa is an excellent choice.

    8) I am not sure about Mesa, but I love the fact that Gilbert picks up my recyclable garbage and does not charge me for it. Trust me, not all municipalities are that generous. Fountain Hills was not! I believe in recycling, but they make the residents pay for it or else it all goes into the same garbage. In addition, Gilbert encourages toxic garbage days a couple of times a year, paint, batteries, etc. These little things are important to those of us that walk that walk. Make certain Mesa does this, or negotiate it with the city specifically before you move.

    8) I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but approach each city you are considering with what they can do for you? Negotiate the taxes, ask for breaks in taxes for the next decade or two, and ask for breaks for anybody affiliated with Gangplank that you bring into the area. Water usage, ask for breaks, anywhere you might, see what each comparatively wants to give share. Be bold on this!

    9) Start collecting (if you haven’t already) names and contacts from those who use Gangplank, then do the numbers. I see people coming and going there all day and night. How about the gas they buy, the local coffee shops they attend? the food joints they use, the entertainment, copy shops, etc, etc. all around the area. What kind of an economic impact will that make to the area? What has been your growth in use and project that over your new area, with the anticipated numbers. Then share that with the Councils and get the best deal you can! Square footage is the easy part.

    http://trueslant.com/annefield/2009/12/02/will-philadelphia-be-the-first-city-to-give-tax-breaks-to-sustainable-businesses/

  5. I’m not going to be popular with this response but I know a site that might work, Mesa. Before I start getting screamed at just listen. I will use the 5 qualifications in this post to prove my case for Mesa.

    1. Committed to infill and urban density.
    Mesa (the Fiesta District in west Mesa) is in the process of a 500 million overhaul near the Fiesta Mall. With Banner Health finishing up their children’s hospital, Mesa Community College becoming one of the largest Community Colleges in the US the Light Rail just a few blocks away and Tempe just down the street I think it is big winner. Also many properties have become available. We have see some new business arriving with a new Walgreens opening this week. I know everyone says Tempe but I think once everything gets rolling again the rent is going to skyrocket with this location I60 and 101 so close to Tempe you have the best of both worlds.

    2. Committed to the creative class.
    With a new Mayor Scott Smith having a background in urban development I believe he understands the “give something to get something” concept that is lost in so so many areas of Phoenix (please don’t get me started). We also have a District 3 Council Representative Dennis Kavanaugh that understands the importance of the arts and that is why he pushed for the new Arts center that opened up last year on Mesa’s main street.

    3. Committed to innovation.
    Again the area I have in mind (Fiesta District) is in walking distance to Mesa Community Collage which is expanding also and 10 minutes from Tempe by the light rail or car. There is an area that has been vacant for a while and could be turned into more of a campus than a stuffy business with room to expand and display art. It could even house new businesses that were created through Gangplanks efforts.

    4. Committed to being connected.
    Again the light rail is just a few blocks away and with the new development being imposed by the city of Mesa with encouraging incentives from the city for businesses to follow suit, I think it is a great opportunity for GangPlank. I have never lived in an area with more input taken from their residents on the development of their parks and walkways imposed in this development package. The city even holds city hall meetings where they encourage the resident to attend for their ideas on their design and also to keep the residents in the loop. When I saw what they had in store for the area I was amazed by the amount of space that was allocated for walk/biking ways to connect MCC and the Fiesta Mall with the rest of the surrounding neighborhood.

    5. Committed to being a significant player in a new mega-region
    I don’t think Mesa is the technology mecca of the region but just like Gangplank it is in its early stages of its new renaissance of the tech industry in the Phoenix area. I think all the pieces are there and there is so much potential in the area with the location so close to Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Phoenix that it is a no brainer. With the slowdown in the economy and lack of luster in the area there has been some vacancies there in a few places that the city would be more than happy to call the Gangplank Campus for Innovation and the Creative Arts (the name is just a thought take it or leave it). I think you might have to move quickly because MCC keeps gobbling up properties. I also believe with the way Gangplank is growing you will need a lot of relatively inexpensive property to grow and I really don’t see that in the future in Tempe. If you need to find out what is going on in the area and how receptive the city would be to new business just email Dennis Kavanaugh at councilmember.kavanaugh@Mesaaz.gov and his website is http://www.mesaaz.gov/citymgt/mayorcc/kavanaugh.aspx I have emailed him with some concerns I had and he has responded very quickly. This is just a thought and I just wanted to contribute to the Gangplank movement. I think because of Gangplank’s main philosophy and commitment to the community this is the best thing to happen to Phoenix because the days of Phoenix catabolizing itself (through the use of our 2nd mortgages as a piggy bank) couldn’t last forever. LONG LIVE GANGPLANK!

  6. Being a Tempe resident, my vote would be for downtown Tempe. I’d actually be interested in somehow partnering with Gangplank on establishing a gallery/artist space for local, digital artists alongside the collaborative workspace. Seems like that would dovetail nicely with some of the interests outlined above.

  7. My perception is that most of the web startups in the metro area start in Tempe – probably because of the plentiful cheap student labor. Then as they mature and the founders want something closer to their swanky new homes, they migrate to the Scottsdale Airpark area.

    Oversimplification – sure, but take a look at who’s hiring and where they’re at – Tempe and the Airpark.

    I, for one, would LOVE to see Gilbert step up and attract some of the maturing web startups. But that is mainly for selfish reasons – Gilbert is closer than North Scottsdale for me.

  8. Pingback: Re: Gangplank Looking To Move Downtown « Will Bradley

  9. Historians guess that from around 300 B.C. to 1400 A.D., Hohokam Indians discovered that through a canal system (WATER), growth and sustainability are possible. (1)
    In their own right, they may have achieved the 3 T’s, and the 5 goals that GP is looking for in a civic partnership. But they did not look for an existing canal system and procreate there.

    SO… Any PHX metro downtown (desert) that embraces GP digging canals (entrenching in the community on various levels) will help to magnetize people/organizations of similar talents, goals, & aspirations. That partner downtown (and surrounding area) will be a fruitful model.

    Dare to BE DANGEROUS. Bring water to the desert.

    (1) http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146412265

  10. As usual I wrote a few paragraphs and decided it was too much for a comment.
    Full version here: http://willbradley.name/2009/12/03/9/
    Short version: I think perception is reality– if the public thinks something, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether Tempe is a poser or Phoenix is sucky or Chandler is a thriving tech center is somewhat diluted by those cities’ public perception, and fighting this is an uphill battle if public accessibility is important.

  11. Just a thought but why just one city? Expand into several!! Cast the web of community.

    I would love to “visit” other Gangplanks, meet even more people and such. As I said, just a thought.

  12. Let’s talk. I have contacts with some of the local city’s that may be able to help. I’m sure I can get meetings with them.

  13. I’d love to see you guys either move or extend to downtown Phoenix. The arts district, despite the fact that it still has a long ways to go, is pretty sweet, and it really is coming together nicely.

    That said, wherever you go I surely hope it’s within a couple of blocks of the light rail, whether that’s downtown Phoenix or Tempe. The more stuff that is built within reach of the rail, the more this place comes together.

  14. I agree with Brandon that the hard part of all this is finding a city where the reality supports the claims. No city in the area is going to *deny* being all about creativity, innovation, etc., but at this stage it’s about meeting the individual mayors and council members and figuring out who’s real and who’s a poser.

    I’ve heard a lot of votes for Tempe, but in my experience they seem to fall more into the “poser” category. I lived in Tempe, graduated in Tempe, worked in Tempe, had a startup in Tempe, had Tempe clients, worked with Tempe organizations, etc. — and I’ve learned that what goes on beneath the surface there doesn’t really fit the hip facade that the city portrays. That’s been my experience, anyway.

  15. Let’s turn the discussion to a little more practical, concrete direction – how much space does gangplank need? what lease terms are being sought, and what’s the target price/sq ft?

    And finally, how do you plan to balance the need for plenty of parking (i’ve still not been to gangplank, but it seems that most if not all of the people who work there drive there) with the 5 points listed above?

  16. Three quick things to add to my last comment: 1) Sorry for the errors in grammar or structure in a few places (e.g., Phoenix did not fund Orpheum Lofts, as far as I know); 2) What’s the timeline and how much space do you need?; and 3), I want to stress that all of the other downtowns mentioned are fascinating locations as well. Tempe and Gilbert are two I know the most about (besides Phoenix) and I am envious (read: jealous) about their development plans and innovation.

  17. This sounds like downtown Phoenix to me. I know others will disagree (and already have, above), but Phoenix scores points in every one of those categories. Off the top of my head:

    1. Downtown Phoenix is the site of ASU’s urban vacant lot analysis and workshop. (http://bit.ly/8rNwzH) That design/planning workshop will not just be dropped at the end of the semester, already a graduate student group has adopted the program and will be working to implement the plans developed by graduate students in planning. Second, the city of Phoenix has funded multiple high-profile historic preservation projects in downtown Phoenix. See: Hanny’s, AE England building, University Center, Orpheum Theatre, Orpheum Lofts, and more. Phoenix is currently updating its general plan to specifically include those items you mentioned.

    2. Downtown Phoenix has one of the state’s largest (and one of the most architecturally interesting) municipal libraries in Burton Barr Central library. Have you seen the bathrooms recently? Between collaborations between Local First AZ and the city of Phoenix, downtown Phoenix is the place to be for local business. Nowhere in metro Phoenix right now do you see as much activity in opening new coffee shops, restaurants, and more than in downtown Phoenix. In terms of architecture, where else do you see an urban form project to encourage innovative design in buildings? (phoenix.gov/urbanformproject/).

    3. Downtown (and central) Phoenix is the site of the UA/ASU medical school, TGEN, the Flinn Foundation, and more related to biomedical companies. Only probably SkySong has been the focus of as much investment related to biomedical technology development. Further, the city of Phoenix continues to be a national leader in innovation in local governments. (Though almost nine years old, check out this report: http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/denhardtreport.pdf to learn about Phoenix). The Alliance for Innovation (www.transformgov.org) is also located downtown, a national alliance of cities focused on innovative local government administration. Further, ASU’s downtown campus is a continued focus of development, including the desire to move the ASU law school downtown.

    4. Downtown Phoenix has several small parks, and three prominent open spaces, often used for public events: Margaret T Hance, Civic Space, and Heritage Square. We have several theaters, the Arizona Science Center, the nationally-competitive Phoenix Convention Center, the Phoenix Art Museum, and many more cultural institutions. Phoenix is at the center of the light rail line and future expansions, and remains committed to public transportation as the majority vote on the light rail board.

    5. While it would be hard to judge the final category, the city of Phoenix (and, more importantly, the organic structures formed downtown like Radiate Phoenix and more) are working on multiple levels to ensure that downtown Phoenix is a regional leader and a local point of pride. Further, as far as I know the largest and most prominent display of university cooperation is the ASU/UA medical campus. Further, College Depot in the central library is another example of the city of Phoenix being a leader in bringing together the three universities, as well as the community colleges. Phoenix (and Mesa) also just received Gates Foundation grants to encourage higher education (http://www.phoenix.gov/news/110509gatesgrant.html), two of eight cities nationwide to receive funding.

    This is just off the top of my head after midnight on a Sunday. I bet there is a lot that I am missing.

    I truly believe that each downtown has something to offer. However, I know Phoenix has the most to offer to Gangplank and the future entrepreneurs it seeks to serve. And I believe that only downtown Phoenix can fulfill nearly every point that you mention. (But, I am perfectly ready to admit that many other local governments are doing similar initiatives.)

    In the spirit of Radiate Phoenix’s last session, this is a chance for downtown Phoenix supporters and detractors to “put up or shut up.” Let’s put something together, strengthen what we already have, and building some support for Gangplank. We want you, Gangplank, to come downtown.

  18. I love GP. I wish I could be more a part of it’s scene.

    here’s my throw at the wall:

    1. if you need to move due to space, that’s a good reason

    2. if you need to move because others want space, i’m not so sure

    3. perhaps GP should remain where it is for a longer stretch. Why? Not sure as I don’t have the hard facts as you do. But my reasons for suggesting you stay put are based on things I’ve seen…

    like, how many stories have we heard about an up-and-coming player who played his hand too early, or too boldly, or too over-confidently?

    GP might consider (if the data supports it, anyways) staying put BASED on how well it’s doing. Many of history’s greatest leaders have proven this a good strategy. Jesus didnt move much, but he drove the nail of his purpose so deeply into the wood around him that it went on in strength long after him.

    Having a huge effect on one location that is long lasting and acts as a beacon has a lot of benefits to the stated goals of GP.

    I agree with another comment that other cities should be coming to GP with offers. Perhaps wait till there is enough momentum COMING to GP for it’s community that it will accomplish your five characteristics by the sheer success of it’s focused determination.

    turning people away might be a drag, but that might have a REAL beneficial effect on the determination of those people. Denial might be a motivation grenade that goes off in other cities or sub-communities.

    that way, GP never has the misfortune of being anything more than a catalyst… it wont be the grown-up of the family telling everyone to think about their futures.

    thanks everyone.

    I love GP

  19. Maybe Tempe is the only downtown that comes close to these excellent requirements. I suppose a downtown that does not yet meet them, but plans to do so, might be in the running.

    As one who lives near downtown Gilbert, I’d love to see Gangplank there. But, being practical, there is no building downtown that could accommodate Gangplank’s needs. I suppose something could be built, there is space and that would be very cool. So, if there move were put off for a couple of years, long enough for a new building and better direction toward the five points above, Gilbert could be the right place.

    I don’t know enough about downtown Chandler or Chandler government to measure it against the five points. I should take a drive/walk around down there to bring some of my thoughts current.

  20. I think one challenging aspect of finding a place that meets these requirements will be discerning which cities CLAIM these kind of beliefs vs. which ones actually give a damn.

    Kudos to you guys for aiming high like this, though. This is what people like me count on Gangplank to be like.

  21. would love for any new consideration to be accessible along mass transit (preferrably current rail system and proposed), so #4 is a big one for me. Honestly, I’ve never felt Phoenix is much of an ecosystem for ‘community’ — assuming you mean downtown Phoenix. It shuts down at 6pm and feels way too corporate. My vote is Gilbert. Buyout the old restaurant across from Joes BBQ :-)

  22. A lot of startup hubs cluster around academic-centric metro regions, and I think it would only make sense for a startup incubator to take advantage of an environment that would seem to fit that formula.

    I vote for Tempe.

  23. Great post Derek! Glad to hear Gangplank is doing well and is growing. You bring up excellent points and wherever you end up relocating Gangplank I hope that each of the cities you mention work toward the 5 characteristics and the 3 Ts because it’s vital to the region as a whole. I like how you think and view community and growth; and I hope that more people begin to see it this way too. :)

  24. I agree with Tyler. No valley city embodies all five of these yet and I’m not sure any of them will get there anytime soon. But, it’s good to see these requirements summarized succinctly. They’ll be good points for guiding the decision as to where to move and also undoubtedly be triggers for a lot of good discussion about the development of the valley.

    I personally am excited to see Gangplank move somewhere more centrally located and with more of a creative vibe. I really think that location has a lot to do with people’s ability to tap into their own creativity.

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