Marty Shultz has been there for it all.
Keith Turley, then the President and Chairman of Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), recruited Shultz when Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) was only an idea in the early 1980s.
Shultz already earned a reputation as a dedicated steward for public policy, starting as the Chief of Staff to three consecutive Phoenix Mayors, beginning with John Driggs, Tim Barrow, and Margaret T. Hance.
Shultz was affiliated with the PCA organization over multiple decades, eventually rising to Board Chair in 2008; Shultz proved instrumental in multiple Downtown development projects, from Arizona Center to the Human Services Campus.
The “City-Shapers” series fills in the gaps of historical knowledge of Phoenix Community Alliance, a four-decade-old business advocacy organization that has influenced the growth of Downtown and beyond.
Q: PCA celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2023. As a foundational Member of the organization, what were its origins?
Shultz: Keith Turley is the gentleman who created the concept. He had a feel for Arizona, our region, and Phoenix.
He realized that we needed an organization and strategy to develop Downtown and created Phoenix Community Alliance.
In those days, if you were the head of the bank or some business of substance, they’d have meetings in what was the Valley National Bank [now the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown] and talk about issues.
Many other leaders recognized that we had some traditional business activity but little residential investment. There are stories about how you could shoot a gun at 5 o’clock Downtown, and nobody would get hurt.
We knew Downtown could not survive without evolving.
As I recall, we visited Denver, Boston, and St. Louis for benchmarks for how they developed their downtowns. Steve Dragos, our first Executive Director, helped develop that trip, and we “went to school” on what those folks did to build their downtown and Central Cities.
And that was the beginning of Phoenix Community Alliance, inspired by Keith, Jerry Colangelo, Bob Matthews, a bank executive, and yours truly.
Q: There were attempts in the early stages of PCA, but Arizona Center was the first example of a major development Downtown. How did that form?
Shultz: Generally, the first action of PCA was to talk about developing or encouraging people to stay Downtown. Keith Turley knew that to grow, we needed a signature project.
Back in the day, the concept of the “urban node” led to the development of centers like Metrocenter Mall, Paradise Valley Mall, and Papago Plaza, which were propelled by powerful business interests and residential communities.
Arizona Center was a stimulus to say you can come back Downtown. You don’t have to leave your job and rush back to the suburbs.
That was then the strategic heart of the city. It was the identified area by the planning commissioners. There was land APS pulled together and acquired. The [developer] Rouse Company conceptualized the project and helped us fill in the details.
Keith and APS agreed to a long-term lease for the first building. APS guaranteed the 20-year lease, which means Rouse had all the money they needed and backup financing. In hindsight, there was strong motivation because the Board approved the contract.
It was informal, but we assured them we would fill up a good portion of the other building, which was Snell & Wilmer on the Van Buren side. How did they get there from where they were? We told them. They were APS’s most significant client; they did the legal work for the [Palo Verde] nuclear power plant.
Q: One of the biggest PCA initiatives was the Human Services Campus, which aggregated many major service providers into a concentrated area to facilitate positive exits for individuals experiencing homelessness. How did that concept of basic shelter evolve to what it is now?
Shultz: Don Keuth and I were the two guys who did most of the legwork.
Opened in 2005, the 10-acre homelessness services facility between the Downtown core and Capitol Mall was a passion project for Shultz as well as Immediate Past Board Chair Mo Stein and longtime PCA President Don Keuth.
The shelter was exceeding capacity, and Phoenix was the only Valley city stepping up to combat the serious social problem. Today, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of 16 partner organizations with the shared outcome of ending homelessness for people every day. Learn more about this key PCA initiative here.
As we were urbanizing, we realized individuals experiencing homelessness was, in part a housing problem. We knew what some cities were doing, but we needed to do it better. “You know, if we could find a place for people to live, eat and maybe even retrain [with the appropriate workforce development providers], we actually might be able to “solve” this problem.”
We started along that path to use [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department] land around 59th Avenue and Van Buren until people like [Dr.] Sheila Harris, who understood the essence of the problem, said it isn’t that simple. Individuals will be closer to services, primarily in the Downtown area. Therefore, 12th Avenue and Madison became the preferred location.
Q: What next priorities should we be at the forefront of spearheading? For instance, we’re strong advocates for people to support the funding needs of the upcoming GO Bond election.
Shultz: We haven’t had a bond issue for 13 years, but now we have a bond issue process. [City of Phoenix City Manager] Jeff Barton, to his credit, and others in finance conceptualized four $500 million bond issues five years apart.
This is going to be a multi-segment bond. We are a big city that has fundamental capital demands.
There was an idea developed by Bud Jacobson [for the 1988 bond election], a tax attorney with Snell & Wilmer. He was super involved in the arts and had 30,000 buttons made at his own expense.
He personally spread them around to people he knew and people who knew other people. So they wore his buttons, “I’m for the bond” or whatever it said. But there was also a number. “I’m #2.” “I’m #455.” “I’m #10,000.” He built up an enthusiasm for the bond issue.
And maybe that’s a PCA initiative with stickers or social media.
Q: In a previous City-Shapers interview, Immediate Past Board Chair Mo Stein referred to you as “the Godfather of Downtown” who got things done. Were you aware of that reputation?
Shultz: This “gets things done” reputation, I do know about it. I’m proud it came from Mo because he’s an effective leader and individual with these sound value systems.
But my entire professional life, once I got into the Mayor’s office, then with APS and followed by Pinnacle West, I relished the idea of taking a concept and trying to resolve issues.
Conflict is not a bad thing, but I don’t emote over controversy.
But thank you, Mo!
Although his regular involvement as a Board Member of PCA has passed, Marty’s involvement as a Private Professional Member has not.
Shultz regularly appears in monthly Committee meetings, ranging from Social & Housing Advancement to Multi-Modal Connectivity, advocating for housing solutions and investment in public transportation, respectively.
The former Board Chair is still a regular presence at the state legislature and a source of input for current elected officials, as a key individual who advocated on behalf of Greater Downtown Phoenix when it mattered most.