Saturday, December 20, 2014

Life goes update

I updated the downtown Phoenix construction list today...more updates to come as things pick up around here again...

Friday, December 28, 2012

At least they tried

At various times friends and family who are not downtown residents have asked why Phoenix doesn't do more in the way of Christmas decorations.  The city probably doesn't do much due to a lack of funding, preferring to leave the decorations to businesses like the downtown Hyatt and its huge Christmas light display or neighborhood organizations like Willo and Roosevelt and their Christmas Eve luminarias.  But it was nice to see the downtown core try to get in on the act.  This year the Downtown Phoenix Partnership set out luminarias along Adams Street between Second Street and First Avenue.  I happened to cruise along the street around 7:30 p.m. and didn't see anybody walking around checking out the luminarias, but it was a good try by the DPP to get something started.  Perhaps with more residents in the downtown core at the Cityscape apartments and with more publicity, downtown Phoenix's luminarias can become a little Christmas tradition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Circle K outcome is evidence of downtown’s progress

Circle K yesterday retracted its application for a liquor license at its proposed site on the southeast corner of Seventh and Roosevelt streets, just hours before the Phoenix City Council was to consider the matter. Without a liquor license, the company’s plan to knock down a couple historic buildings on a prime downtown corner in order to build a suburban-style 16-stall gas station won’t happen. While this result seems like a no-brainer, this is the kind of fight that would have gone the other way even a decade ago. That’s because up until the turn of the century, there weren’t enough residents downtown to create a critical mass to fight a project like the Circle K development. But in 2012, a groundswell of residential opposition cropped up to defeat the suburban-style gas station, including the Garfield Organization, Evans Churchill Community Association, Downtown Voices Coalition, Thunderdome Neighborhood Association (sidenote, and with apologies, but what is that?), Roosevelt Row CDC, Concord Eastridge (developers of Roosevelt Point), Artisan Village Board of Directors and St. Croix Homeowners Association. At least half of those organizations didn’t exist in 2003. While downtown Phoenix residents still lose their share of battles in the struggle to create a vibrant downtown— see Robert Sarver’s decision to tear down the historic properties adjacent to US Airways Center— the Circle K outcome shows that the tables are beginning to turn.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Big win for downtown Phoenix

For all the bandwidth I’ve devoted to pummeling the Cityscape project, it’s good to finally have something positive to say. Construction started this week on a 12-story apartment tower that will sit atop the existing Palomar Hotel at Jefferson Street and First Street. This is great news as it further expands downtown Phoenix’s full-time residential population, putting additional foot traffic on the sidewalks, providing customers for local businesses, and even improving safety by adding what Jane Jacobs called “eyes on the street” watching out for trouble. Hopefully the apartment building is attractive and provides some definition in the form of balconies (which would be a nice counter to the heinous Palomar, which reminds me of the 1970s-era office buildings that were gutted or imploded in D.C. during that city’s recent building boom).  Whatever the outcome of the apartment building, it is probably safe to say that at the very least Cityscape is an improvement over the Arizona Center.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Get past downtown?

The expected backlash is on-- today's Arizona Republic published a story claiming that Phoenix voters have tired of the mayor and council's downtown focus and want the attention of the next mayor on their various outlying neighborhoods.

At first blush, that seems like a bad thing for downtown. But the more I reflect on the article, I think it may not be so bad if city hall leaves central Phoenix alone for a few years or more. The downtown focus of the past decade wasn't necessarily a plus-- the outcome of the Gordon era was another suburban-type megablock shopping center in CityScape, continued teardowns of historic properties at Madison Square Garden and the City Hall-backed gutting of the Sun Mercantile Building (shelved when the economy tanked), and virtually nothing done about the dirt lots that are everywhere around downtown.

If that was what a downtown focus got us, I'm all for City Hall paying attention to other parts of Phoenix. In fact, I'm OK with a decade where Phoenix leadership does only two things for downtown: (1) cut red tape for businesses that want to open downtown and (2) improve neighborhood infrastructure by narrowing sidewalks, eliminating some of the one-way streets in and around downtown, adding streetlights and perhaps plunging the power lines along Roosevelt Street underground.

Let's let other parts of Phoenix 'benefit' from City Hall's attention.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

St. Matthew's to be spared?

In a stunning development, Metro light rail recently decided not to request the Phoenix City Council’s approval in May for the portion of the western extension that was slated to run from I-17 to downtown along Jefferson Street and through the St. Matthew’s neighborhood. Instead, Metro is planning to study alternative routes and the historic preservation effects of the Jefferson Street alignment for the next 6-8 months. Metro specifically mentioned that it would consider as an alternative the alignment favored by the neighborhood activists, in which the light rail follows Van Buren Street from I-17 before turning south on 19th Avenue and then heading east on Jefferson Street past the capitol and on to downtown.

While the decision certainly doesn’t guarantee anything for the St. Matthew’s neighborhood proponents who did not want to see the train run down the portion of Jefferson (between I-17 and 19th Avenue) that has historic single-family residences on either side of the street, the fact that Metro has abandoned its all-out push for approval is welcome news.

This blog applauds Metro and the Phoenix City Council for their willingness to stop and listen to the concerns of the St. Matthew’s residents. It will be interesting to see where this story goes next.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Dirt lots are one of the scourges of downtown Phoenix, so it was great to get an e-mail today from the Roosevelt Row CDC about the launch of their A.R.T.S. project (active reuse of temporary space), a "dirt lot activation program that addresses the blight of vacant space." Apparently their first project is to clean up and spread mulch over the dirt lot at 408 E. Roosevelt Street, across from Modified Arts.

With development at a standstill, projects like these are a must if we're to beautify (or at least de-uglify) downtown Phoenix. Hope this is the first of many!