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Insights gathered in Kingman, AZ

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

RE3 team members, Mary Bosch and Vicki Doll, were on the ground in Kingman, Arizona, in October to assess the city’s assets and challenges firsthand. They are preparing a communitywide economic driver action plan.

Mural in Kingman, Arizona
Kingman's Route 66 identity is known around the world.

Route 66 Nostalgia

If you’ve ever heard the song, Route 66, you may remember that Kingman is located on the storied old route that was largely replaced by Interstate highways. Walking the streets and visiting casually with community members, Doll and Bosch realized just how important that heritage is, from surrounding artwork to a number of historic buildings well worth preserving.

"Thirty-three hotels and nearly 3,000 hotel rooms is off the charts"

One “aha” moment for our team was learning how many international travelers are drawn to Kingman by the Route 66 mystique. “Sitting in the lobby of the hotel working one night I heard over eight different languages. This is unreal!” said Bosch. “Thirty-three hotels and nearly 3,000 hotel rooms is off the charts for a community of 30,000 people.”

Downtown Activity

Walking door to door downtown, Bosch and Doll discovered roughly 15 young entrepreneurs operating in a setting that was truly unique. Full disclosure: the team also enjoyed a round or two at Kingman’s two microbreweries, serving up some candid interactions with the locals.

Mary Bosch in Kingman
Mary Bosch assessing downtown Kingman, door by door.

Outsiders’ Perspective

City leaders were already aware of problem areas — that’s why they hired us — but coming in with fresh eyes, our team spotted additional derelict properties and shared a visitor’s first impression of the city from the entrances on in.

Here’s where the stakeholders’ role becomes important. When the RE3 team mentioned two vacant eyesore hotels during a community meeting, audience members offered immediate feedback that one was actually being renovated by new owners. With this information we could adjust our recommendations.

Beyond Individual Properties

While some RE3 projects zero in on a single problem property or shopping center, Kingman’s focus is communitywide, encompassing retail, tourism and industrial areas. As an outcome of this visit, the city will receive a plan encompassing, in part:

  • Next steps strategy for nuisance properties & property turnaround plan

  • Clear picture of market gaps and targets aligned to sites and districts

  • Game plan to actively manage prospects

  • Clear brand and story

Sometimes the solution to derelict properties is a facelift; other times, there are underlying issues to be addressed first. Through formal and informal conversations on site we ascertained that funding challenges and organizational issues are interfering with progress. A plan that addresses only business attraction or façade improvements will be doomed to failure.

Ensuring it Doesn’t Sit on the Shelf

During the pre-visit research phase, our team interviewed roughly two dozen community leaders in government, workforce, and business, as well as reviewing previous strategic plans back to 2007. It became apparent that many of the previous recommendations were still valid but lacked a clear path to get from “here” to “there.”

The RE3 team’s mission is to present a living guide that turns strategy into reality. Consequently, our final plan will address organizational structure and define who should champion priority actions. To further prevent roadblocks to implementation, the strategy will include:

  • Target list to leverage and grow its entrepreneur base

  • Steps to mobilize resources

  • High impact initiatives to increase tax revenue and drive change

Like many cities, Kingman has its share of neglected properties. The steps they are taking will ensure a future built on entrepreneurship and industry as well as a healthy appreciation for the city’s place in history.