With a new leader comes new vision for the future

Jennifer Lindley: Downtown visionary

Ten years ago, few Valley residents would have considered downtown Chandler a shopping or dining “hotspot.”

Thanks in significant part to the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, or DCCP, the area has been completely revitalized.

DCCP is a non-profit organization that works in conjunction with the city of Chandler to help boost the economic success of the downtown area through branding and marketing. Its mission is to turn downtown into a “regional destination for shopping, dining, living, culture, and the arts.”

About a year ago, Jennifer Lindley, an acknowledged expert in economic development, became the organization’s executive director.

As onetime vice president of East Valley Partnership, a regional development organization, Lindley saw the opportunity to work at a local level as a perfect match to her experience and interests. A former Chandler resident, she knew exactly what changes needed to be made.

“It was a great opportunity for me to be focused on a smaller community, to make a bigger difference,” she said.

Lindley created a rebranding scheme to help give downtown a new lease on life. She worked with her team on a new logo and website, and created a social media presence to reach new audiences.

“From what we’ve done so far, traffic has definitely increased. There’s more interest than ever before,” she said.

Popular businesses like GangPlank and Ports America have been part of Lindley’s efforts to turn downtown into a business hub, and have brought in important daytime business to the area.

The success of the “new downtown” can be seen in the numbers.

Downtown now boasts only two percent retail vacancy. Other Valley cities have about 15 percent.

Even though downtown Chandler is on the rise, it still faces its share of challenges.

Lack of housing downtown means that it has become a destination, rather than a home base. It’s a problem that has plagued downtown Phoenix for years.

Lindley, however, sees it as an obstacle she’s ready to tackle.

“We want to create a community so that people want to be here all the time,” she said. “We want people to live, work and play downtown.”

Terri Killgore, the city of Chandler’s downtown redevelopment manager, says that her department’s efforts are focused on changing people’s perception of the downtown.

“The area has changed drastically, and if people haven’t been here in 20-30 years, we need to bring them back to show them what’s new,” she said.

So even though it has come a long way, downtown Chandler’s ultimate future remains a vision rather than a reality. Lindley and her team are working on a new signage package to direct potential customers to businesses and restaurants.

Block parties and special events will become more frequent, and will be heavily promoted through various social media platforms.

Popular events like the weekly farmers market, monthly art walk and culture-themed events will continue to be on the menu.

To find out more about DCCP and what downtown Chandler has to offer, visit www.downtownchandler.org .