Rendering of the vision for the Downtown Catalyst Project

A rendering of the downtown catalyst project at Springberg McAndrew Park is shown from earlier in the process.

Three years ago, plans for a downtown project helped Lake Havasu City secure a $2 million prize in a nationwide contest. Now, Lake Havasu City Council members appear to be rethinking whether it should be a priority.

The Downtown Catalyst Project was identified in the city’s Vision 2020 plan as one of three initiatives for the city to pursue using prize money from the 2017 America’s Communities Contest. Lake Havasu City purchased Springberg McAndrew Park on McCulloch Boulevard as a base for the project, but now private investors are needed to make it a reality. At a planning session last week, members of the Lake Havasu City Council discussed the project at length. While some expressed interest, others expressed doubt as to the project’s viability.

Lake Havasu City Councilman Gordon Groat remained in favor of the project, but said its future would rely on private investors. Originally, the Vision 2020 plan called for both a public and private investment in the project. Private investors would create restaurants, businesses and shops surrounding the area of what is now Springberg McAndrew Park. In turn, the city would create a community gathering space to draw attention and further business to downtown Havasu.

“We kind of have to see how things unfold,” Groat said. “It’s been on the drawing board for five years. I look at it objectively … I’ve seen a lot of ideas, but nothing concrete at the moment.”

Councilwoman Michele Lin agreed.

“I’m curious to see who the investors are going to be,” she said. “That’s been my concern from the very beginning. The city has a lot of other problems – we have issues like clean water, problems with revenue and police staffing … there are a lot of other issues.”

The Downtown Catalyst Project was guided by the Havasu community through a series of town halls, where residents voiced their opinions on what projects Havasu should adopt within the foreseeable future. Planning for the project has been led by the Lake Havasu Partnership for Economic Development, and according to PED officials, the Catalyst project will need more than $5 million in private investments before the public portion of the project can begin.

Former Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen, who now resides in Wickenburg, said the project always called for an up-front investment by the city, but he believed it would generate additional revenue.

“That’s the beauty of that kind of project,” Nexsen said. “It takes an up-front investment, but it has a payoff.”

Nexsen says that such projects have already seen success in the area of Flagstaff, and it’s an example Havasu would do well to follow.

“It’s what the Havasu community wanted, not any particular council member,” Nexsen said. “And it will require an investment by the city … it’s just a matter of where the city’s priorities will be placed. You have to have a vision for the future, and not just maintain the status quo. It’s a credit to the community members who said this is what they wanted this city to be.”

According to Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy, the City Council could receive an update on the project as soon as May, prior to the city’s annual budget session.

Sheehy said the city has set aside $3.2 million for Vision 2020 projects, including the Downtown Catalyst and the environmental learning center.

“The PED is taking the lead on this project, and working with interested investors to solidify the private investment in the Catalyst project,” Sheehy said this week. “Then we can solidify public investment in the project.”

The Downtown Catalyst Project was determined a priority for Havasu’s growth by members of the Havasu community, and Sheehy says he shares their desire to see it through.

“I believe the City Council represents the citizens,” Sheehy said. “We’re moving in the same direction as the community’s wishes during the competition. We want to ensure the right project is built for downtown, and that it is truly a catalyst project.”

Today’s News-Herald reporter Michael Zogg contributed to this story.


(6) comments


Pay off, to funny, still waiting for the payoff from the business park. 1 business that could have located somewhere else. Give it to the past mayor doesn't give up on spending. I vote for parks that attract more residents that attract more business's


So why don’t you run for Council and see if your vision for the future is consistent with LHC residents. You couldn’t even get the Parks and Recreation committee to agree with your ideas. Parks do not attract businesses, a solid workforce does. You just can’t get over being told no, so you think if you repeat a falsehood over and over, it becomes true. It doesn’t.

By the way the City did not build the business park but I am glad it exists for those people employed there that are supporting their families. I invest, I don’t spend.




I am probably only one of maybe a few who thinks that expanded shopping in the area is really not such a great idea given the fact we have a 1/2 empty mall. So I have a proposal.

During the winter months we have lots and lots of snowbirds who visit our community. A more park like setting with lots of meandering paths, trees, tables and chairs (checkers/chess) and benches might make a really inviting environment. More of a garden like setting with the plants identified with bronze plaques, maybe a couple of shuffleboard courts and of course a few small business establishments to furnish food and drinks. Nothing better than sipping on a cold glass of Iced Tea under the shade of a Cottonwood or while sitting in a shaded gazebo. Oh and while not needed in the winter months, two (2) or three (3) well placed downdraft cooling towers like they have at the Desert Bar would even make it usable in the summer months. Maybe even a central rotunda with space for visiting old timey, country and dixieland bands at certain times of the year.

Just a thought since the latest trends in shopping seems to be buying stuff online and have UPS and FedEx deliver it to your home. We would also need to make sure it has a designated electric bus and/or trolly stop with shaded seating.

So what do you think might work. Less shopping but certainly more gathering and conversation space for our local residents and our visiting snowbirds. N.Y. has a central park and so does San Diego. In fact most cities have a central park in their downtown area. Oh and yes all of the lighting and cooling equipment (evaporative) would run on the solar roofs we build for shade.

Just thinking out loud, ha ha. Have a great day everyone.



Your thoughts are fairly consistent with what the community had planned as part of Vision 2020. The idea was to sell off about 50-60% of the downtown property for private investment and the City would create a public square with the remaining portion. The public square portion would be an area where citizens could enjoy a cup of coffee, conversations with friends, ASU students could study and a great gathering spot for everyone. The businesses would benefit from the social atmosphere and citizens would be able to enjoy what the businesses have to offer. People like to gather downtown, which is why the community made this such a high priority.



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