[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Every city has a few crown jewels, but in 2008, Phoenix plans to pile on the razzle-dazzle. Several downtown projects, which are expected to wrap up this year, could have huge influence on the heart of the city, insiders say. The list includes light rail, Arizona State University’s journalism school, the expanded Phoenix Convention Center, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, and 44 Monroe, the tallest residential building in the state. “I see 2008 as the first wave of the perfect storm,” said Terry Madeksza, director of operations for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, a group of downtown merchants and landowners. That’s because each project will help lure thousands of visitors and full-time residents, she said. The 2008 projects also represent a staggering public investment. The light-rail line, the Sheraton hotel and the convention center expansion represent more than $2 billion in public financing.
Next year will also bring huge milestones for downtown development. For instance, the first phase of CityScape — a $900 million cluster of shops, offices, high-rise dwelling and hotels — is scheduled to open in 2009 and another high-rise condo tower, Omega, would be in the midst of construction. “At the end of 2008, we won’t be finished,” said John Chan, the city’s downtown-development director. This year’s projects “will carry that momentum beyond.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]