Tempe downtown gets a new name
by Carol Thompson
Arizona State University, known to be one of the largest, if not the largest, partying college in the nation, is situated in close proximity to Tempe’s famous Mill Avenue District. Earlier this month, the area was rebranded- downtown Tempe- or dt for short.
For generations, Mill Avenue has been the entertainment mecca of Tempe and is known as a national college strip. A quote in The State Press attributed to Kate Borders, president and executive director of the Downtown Tempe Authority, suggests the move is to encourage non-college residents and tourists to visit.
“When I first started here, I would ask people what they thought of downtown Tempe. Granted, these are people that might not have been to downtown Tempe in 10 years, but expectations are lasting. People would say, ‘It’s too young for me,’ ‘It’s a college town,’ ‘I wouldn’t bring my kids there,’ and lots of others. We chose to have the event at this restaurant because not only is it locally owned and operated, but it embodies the change we hope to see in downtown Tempe,” Borders is quoted as saying.
The new TempeRising.com website already has been met with a TempeUprising.com competitor. According to the TempeRising website, the Mill Avenue District is growing up from its roots. “Still thinking of Tempe as a student-run stronghold? You’re living in the past.”
A press release states, “Growing up from its college town roots and post-adolescence playground stereotype which have dominated its genetics for years, with the tidal wave of new private developments, residences and mass-transit options flooding the area over the next few years, Tempe is excited to graduate to the next level and let the world, not just Arizona, know.”
TempeUprising urged people to say no to the rebranding and some have posted in social media that they will continue to refer to the area as the “Mill” despite the name change. “I’m still going to call my friends and say, ‘Hey, meet me at the Mill.'”
Downtown Tempe is also using Facebook to promote their new branding. The page has nearly 6,000 likes.
Whether the name change can change the reputation as being a college student hotspot remains to be seen. Some online commentators feel the new name will be a detriment as Mill Avenue has nationwide recognition whereas downtown Tempe is just another awkward saying. One commentator noted that no one says they are going to downtown New York City for New Year’s Eve or to downtown New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The two places and events are known as Times Square and the French Quarter respectively.
It’s not only the name that city leaders are attempting to change. They are hoping to bring more upscale businesses into the downtown district and a more consumer diversity.
In the 1990s, Mill Avenue became nationally known for its music scene. It became as well known as Memphis’ Beale Street. Eventually, the music died and Mill has not recaptured its past success.
Image: Alexis Macklin