As newcomers flood the area seeking lower taxes and jobs, developers are building taller and denser, creating an urban feel in the middle of wide-open desert.

Until recently, Scottsdale was a Phoenix suburb known for golf and bejeweled retirees. Today, this is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. Maricopa County, where Scottsdale is located, saw more population growth than any other U.S. county in 2017, according to U.S. Census data. All this demand is fueling a multifamily building boom that is dramatically altering Scottsdale’s low-rise landscape, while in once-sleepy Old Town, souvenir shops are being replaced by buzzy restaurants and a nightlife scene that has drawn comparisons to Miami and Las Vegas.

“It isn’t the old cow town with the tumbleweeds blowing through,” said Dub Dellis, chief operating officer of Walt Danley Realty. “If it has been 15 years since you’ve been to Scottsdale and you have in your mind 100 places where you can find turquoise jewelry, it’s not that anymore.”

The area’s increasingly urban character is causing something of an identity crisis for Scottsdale and its wealthy neighbor, Paradise Valley, as new development collides with the area’s wide-open-spaces, frontier-town ethos. As millennials and retirees alike eagerly snap up new condos, some residents worry that development is threatening the area’s character.