SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center “is a job creator with outsized ripple effects” on economic development in the region, with an estimated impact of $58.2 billion over the next 30 years and with even more value as a brand representing innovation and entrepreneurship.
The estimate is part of a comprehensive new Market Analysis and Economic & Fiscal Impact Study conducted by Elliott D. Pollack and Company to gauge the project’s effect on regional economic growth. The study found that the SkySong public-private-university partnership was a catalyst in making SkySong a major part of Arizona’s economic development picture.
Key findings from the study include:
- SkySong is a job creator with outsized ripple effects. Overall, SkySong specifically generates an estimated annual impact of 9,350 total jobs, $584.4 million in wages and $1.3 billion in economic activity. Going forward, including the future surrounding induced development, the economic impact over 30 years will exceed $58.2 billion.
- SkySong generates significant revenues for state and local governments. In addition to thousands of local high-wage jobs, to date, the impacts of SkySong have returned $27.1 million in revenue to Scottsdale. Over the next 30 years, Scottsdale is expected to receive more than $362.3 million. Revenues to the state, county and city will be $1.4 billion during that timeframe.
- SkySong has been a catalyst for redevelopment. The economic impact of construction activity alone will be over $2.0 billion.
- SkySong has helped transform the surrounding neighborhoods, attracting reinvestment and interest. There has been strikingly higher home price appreciation compared to Scottsdale overall and Maricopa County for the last several years.
- SkySong offers a case study in community revitalization using a successful public-private- university partnership, and has developed a unique brand presence that is synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurship.
- The speed and trajectory of the SkySong development, its tenant attraction, and its reputation superseded the overall Arizona real estate market and created a brand as an innovative and vibrant business center.
“SkySong is an outlier,” the report states. “The project had many naysayers. Market conditions for commercial development in the early 2000s when SkySong was proposed were not optimal for the vast plan that came to fruition with the public-private- university partnership. In the end, the mutual vision of ASU, ASU Foundation, University Realty, Plaza Companies and the partnership with the City of Scottsdale overcame those limitations to develop a compact, modern, urban project at a site that private development would not have considered.”
ASU President Michael Crow, who spearheaded the vision for SkySong back in the early 2000s, said the project’s growth and development has been successful for all entities involved.
“For ASU, teaming up with the private sector to develop a campus that would focus on discovery, converting research to the marketplace, producing new companies, high wage jobs and tax revenue for the city and state, is part of the university’s commitment to advance a more robust and resilient Arizona economy,” Crow said. “SkySong has been an enormous success as a public-private partnership that has brought life to south Scottsdale, but what’s more important than that is the work that is being done there and the talented people from the university, its partners and other private sector members who are coming here to do it.”
Sharon Harper, Chairman and CEO of Plaza Companies, the project’s master developer, said the vision from the beginning of the project is being realized over time.
“SkySong is truly an intersection where an exceptional public-private-university partnership has been created to spur economic growth for an entire region,” she said. “Its focus on innovation and technology have set it apart in the marketplace and made it one of the most attractive destinations in the country for a broad spectrum of companies. The vision for the project and the exceptional execution of that vision are what sets SkySong apart.”
Pollack and his team pointed out that the SkySong’s success came despite the project opening just as the economic downturn of 2008 struck. The team directly attributed the strength and innovation of the project’s public-private-university partnership to SkySong’s ability to thrive despite those circumstances.
Pollack said the success was, in part, because of the key stakeholders involved, but there were other components that were imperative to the transformation, including the site location, meeting space availability, public investment, and patience of the development team over time. The project was also successful in branding itself with a sense of vibrancy and place for those who work at and visit SkySong. These factors combined to turn SkySong not only into a destination for employers, but for visitors as well.
“Not only is it its own economic activity center which brings visitors from out of town and imports tourism dollars into the community, but SkySong now has a reputation as a conference destination hosting 4,500 events each year for more than 63,000 participants,” Pollack said. “With the combination of a critical mass of companies onsite and the additional 14,000 square feet of meeting space, the tech industry knows that SkySong is a central hub for collaboration.”
Overall, the report said that SkySong can serve as a prime example of how innovative partnerships such as the public-private-university joint effort at SkySong can create transformative economic growth.
“A public-private partnership with the right mix of stakeholders, location, meeting space, public investment, patience, and flexibility has the potential to outperform underlying market expectations — including the ability to weather economic downturns — to create a successful, vibrant, mixed-use campus,” Pollack wrote in the study. “Projects like this also spark reinvestment and revitalization in the surrounding community, generate significant levels of economic output, and create ripple effects throughout the economy.”
The 24-page executive summary is available here.
SkySong is a 42-acre mixed use development designed to:
- Create an ecology of collaboration and innovation among high-profile technology enterprises and related researchers;
- Advance global business objectives of on-site enterprises;
- Raise Arizona’s profile as a global center of innovation through co-location of ASU’s strategic global partners; and
- Create a unique regional economic and social asset.
Companies located at SkySong have the opportunity to partner with Arizona State University, which has more than 125,000 students studying across four metropolitan Phoenix campuses, in Lake Havasu City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. ASU is one of the largest public universities in the nation, with the majority of its students attending its campus in Tempe, Arizona, less than three miles from SkySong.
In addition to locating its own innovative research units at the center, through ASU’s on-site operations, tenant companies have a single point of contact for introductions to researchers, faculty and programs to address their specific needs.
Plaza Companies is the developer of the project in partnership with Arizona State University Foundation, the City of Scottsdale and Holualoa Companies. Lee and Associates provides the brokerage services and Plaza del Rio Management Corporation provides the property management and construction services. Architects at SkySong include Pei Cobb Fried and Partners, DMJM Design, Butler Design Group and Kendle Design Collaborative.
With offices in Peoria, Scottsdale and Tucson, Plaza Companies is a full-service real estate firm specializing in the management, leasing and development of medical office and commercial office properties, technology and bioscience facilities, mixed-use properties and senior housing communities. Since 1982, Plaza Companies has established a proud track record as a competitive, connected and conscientious real estate firm with partnerships throughout the industries it serves.
University Realty is a subsidiary of ASU Enterprise Partners, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to generating resources for the benefit of Arizona State University.
Holualoa Companies is a real estate investment firm focused on the successful acquisition, repositioning, redevelopment and disposition of real estate assets. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, with offices in Phoenix, Santa Monica, Hawaii and Paris, its investments span the United States and Europe and include office, retail, industrial, multi-family, hotel and mixed-use investment properties. Holualoa is an experienced investor for its own account and on behalf of a select group of private investors.
Scottsdale is one of the state’s leading job centers, with a diverse economy built on medical research, high-tech innovation, tourism and corporate headquarters. Scottsdale is home to nearly 18,000 businesses supplying over 150,000 jobs. The high-tech innovation center SkySong, located just a few miles from Downtown, is designed to help companies grow through a unique partnership with nearby Arizona State University. The Scottsdale Cure Corridor is a partnership of premier health care providers and biomedical companies seeking to advance medicine and patient care through cutting-edge research.