When Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord first became a government representative, Goodyear residents were clamoring for a shopping mall. And Goodyear staff was plotting how to build a new city hall complex.
That was 2005.
A decade-and-a-half later: Still no Goodyear mall.
And no new Goodyear City Hall.
Lord noted this is what got her into politics in the first place.
“I thought, if I’m going to get a city hall built, I better run for office,” she recalled, smiling wryly.
“As you can see, my city hall still has not been built.”
Even with Goodyear riding a business boom with the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and UPS opening huge centers, and even though the city’s population has double-digit growth every year … still no shopping mall.
While the city has no direct control over a shopping center, other than recruiting and enticing potential developers, it does control the destiny of a sprawling city hall complex.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the new city hall is scheduled in April — of 2021. The building will not be completed until June 2022.
Lord said this is not what she originally thought city hall would be like. “But I know with the current plan — actually I think it’s going to be better. It’s going to be a civic center … the end result is a city hall building with a park in front of it.”
A new Goodyear City Hall is a hotly debated topic years before Lord became mayor. “The city of Goodyear envisioned a city hall project for 35 years,” said an agenda item last year.
A new city hall finally received a green light in April, when Goodyear City Council approved a letter of intent outlining a public-private partnership with investment company Globe Corporation.
The development will be called Goodyear Civic Square at Estrella Falls.
A residential portion of the sprawling property is in the zoning process.
The massive project is north of McDowell Road near 150th Drive. Ultimately, it will include a city hall, library, 2-acre park and Class A office space.
The project, with an estimated $83 million cost, will be partially funded by a $53-million bond, according to the April agenda information.
“You couldn’t ask for a better way to rejuvenate that area,” Lord said.
Indeed, though she stressed she is not against a shopping center, Lord thinks smaller retail and entertainment areas spread through the city might be a better way to go.
Goodyear Civic Center at Estrella Falls “is kind of giving us what you might call a city downtown,” Lord said. “Goodyear doesn’t really have a true downtown.”
Lord was elected to Goodyear City Council in 2005, then became mayor in 2011.
Back in 2005, Goodyear was in the midst of a population explosion, more than tripling from a town of 18,911 in 2000 to a small city of 65,275 in 2010.
Goodyear’s population is now estimated at over 80,000, as it continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in Arizona.
Lord acknowledged she has heard from plenty of people who say “We’re growing too fast!”
What does she say to those people?
“I tell them the truth. I say, ‘I can understand your position but it’s not the way the city is going.’ We’re only 11% developed,” Lord said.
“When we bought a house here, I knew eventually we would have 750,000 (population).
“But people come in and want no traffic, they want one little store on the corner. But it’s not the direction of Goodyear. We’re bringing in businesses. We want people to walk out the front door, drive a couple blocks and go to work.”
And — who knows — maybe even go to a local shopping mall.
“Why wouldn’t you want to come here? There are all kinds of people coming here — why wouldn’t you invest in Goodyear? Why wouldn’t you be here, with the Microsofts, the Amazons?”
For any business, big or small, Georgia Lord had a promise:
“You will be a success, if you come to Goodyear.