Monthly Archives: June 2008

Independents Week Coffee Marathon with the Mayor, July 3

Coffee on the go!  Go Independent!Show your support for local independent businesses on the morning of Thursday, July 3 with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Local First Arizona Executive Director Kimber Lanning.  Say hello, share your opinion, and have a cuppa joe at one of these fine establishments:

For more information about Independents Week, including your 20% off Golden Ticket coupon, contact Local First Arizona at 602-956-0909 or visit their website.

Arizona Memory Project documents state’s past

The Arizona Memory Project is an online effort to provide access to the wealth of primary sources in Arizona libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions.  This initiative provides the opportunity to view some of the best examples of government documents, photographs, maps, and objects that chronicle Arizona’s past and present.

Aerial photograph of Phoenix College, 1950 (among the many photographs in the Arizona Memory Project collection).As a portal to many institutions’ collections, the project will help individuals locate materials relevant to their interests and to better appreciate the connections between those materials.  The Arizona Memory Project was launched in March 2006 and has been granted the Arizona Centennial 2012 legacy project designation by the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission.  The Arizona Centennial 2012 legacy projects support the Arizona State Centennial Celebration.

Begin your search of Phoenix and Arizona history here.

Phoenix’s historic Franklin School reopens as public safety high school


In this know99 television segment, the story of Franklin Police and Fire High School in the historic Franklin School on McDowell Road is told.

Angela Pancrazio, chronicler of Phoenix stories, passes away

Angela Pancrazio, 1957-2008[Source: Arizona Republic] — Angela Cara Pancrazio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who later became a writer and video storyteller, died June 19, 2008 at her home in Phoenix.  She was 51.  Angela chronicled many “slice of life” stories about the city she called home and its people.

Angela was a member of the Oakland Tribune team that won a 1990 Pulitzer for their coverage of the Bay Area earthquake of October, 1989.  After working for The Oregonian in Portland, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune, she joined the staff of the Arizona Republic in 1999.  The Republic says she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer in 2007, and that she died surrounded by family and friends.  An avid gardener, more than a dozen gardens have been planted in Angela’s honor, the newspaper reports.

A “life celebration” will be held at Noon on Sunday, July 13, 2008, at the Phoenix Art Museum.  For Angela’s obituary and guest book registry, click here.  Donations in Angela’s memory can be made to Hospice of the Valley.


Cielo cleans up its midtown Phoenix condo property

Cielo property owners clean up their property (photo June 29, 2008)Today it was nice to see that the owners of the Cielo condo project in midtown Phoenix cleaned up their property.  For a “before” photo, taken on April 26, click here

‘Difficult’ state legislative session ends; no tax breaks for downtown Phoenix entertainment district

Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix, AZ[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl and Matthew Benson, Arizona Republic, June 29, 2008] — Numbers dominated this year’s legislative session.  As in shrinking revenue projections and growing deficit numbers for the state budget.  As in counting the number of votes needed to pass a budget – which has its own controversial set of numbers.  As in counting the hours that a Democratic-led filibuster dragged on in the Senate, in hopes of derailing a vote on a gay-marriage amendment.  Or the even longer Republican-led filibuster against the budget deal days earlier.

Arizona Republic).The session ended after 166 days of work, even more if you count the week of work done on the budget before the session officially started in January.  The last day unfolded under a sky darkened by smoke from a wildfire, a fitting metaphor for the darkening mood of the Legislature.  The mood had begun to sour earlier in the week with division over the state-budget deal, and that atmosphere continued with angry and passionate debate over the gay-marriage amendment

[House Speaker Jim] Weiers and other lawmakers made a last-minute run to win support for a “stimulus” package of bills that supporters said would generate thousands of construction jobs.  But only two of the proposed five measures passed — both included in the budget.  The provisions include $1 billion in borrowing for university construction, to be financed with the proceeds from an expanded state Lottery.  The other stimulus provision expands existing state tax credits for research and development, with the goal of luring startup companies in the high-tech and biotech industries.

Left by the wayside were proposals to create tax credits to attract solar-manufacturing facilities; to give a tax break for a downtown [Phoenix] entertainment district; and to allow Pima County officials to call an election to allow a tax that would shore up Tucson’s spring-training baseball fortunes.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix ranks #22 in sustainability

This past week, the Arizona Republic published a six-part series on sustainability, and in Sunday’s editorial, the Republic opined that “…Arizona still seems in the minor leagues.  The efforts need to be bigger, better, faster.”  So how does Arizona fare?  SustainLane, cited in the Republic’s series, ranked America’s cities in 15 categories using data culled from a variety of sources, including city governments.  Of the top 50 cities in the U.S., Tucson ranked #20, Phoenix #22, and Mesa #47.  Here’s the 2006 scoring and commentary for Phoenix:

Phoenix has a reputation as a retirement community with a relaxing desert environment, abundant sunshine, and lots of golf courses — and until recently, it was pretty much just that.  In 1950, there were only 105,000 people living within the city limits and less than half the streets were paved.  Now, Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States.

Because Phoenix is such a new city and grew so fast, it is markedly different from other large US cities.  Phoenicians resisted growth by trying to preserve a small-town feel (it wasn’t until the 1980s that the city surrendered to a highway system).  Its residents are passionate about preserving wide-open landscape views, so growth has been channeled into low-density sprawl.

Climate is one of Phoenix’s defining features.  In the Navajo language, Phoenix is called Hoozdo, or “the place is hot.”  The summer temperature exceeds 100 degrees an average of 89 days of the year, with a record high of 122 degrees in 1990.  Phoenix lies in a valley in the heart of the Sonoran Desert.  Winters are mild and sunny with huge temperature fluctuations.  Daytime temperatures might reach 70 degrees while nighttime temperatures can plummet to 30 degrees.

Due to its rapid growth, Phoenix is an adolescent compared to most other large US cities.  As a result, the city faces challenges that many other large cities addressed long ago, though residents and government alike are beginning to address these issues.  The introduction of light rail, expansion of urban parks, and interest in LEED certified buildings are a good start.  Another opportunity the city might consider would be to create incentives for urban infill projects and planning for public transit and pedestrian-friendly environments.  The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Developments, or LEED-ND, would be a great model for the city to use as a guideline. 

[Note: To review and download the Downtown Voices Coalition 2004 report, “Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown,” click here.]

ASU’s PURL lays out model of downtown Phoenix

In this know99 television segment, Arizona State University instructors and students explain the purpose and use of the downtown Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL).

Bankrupt lender asks for $125M in aid for metro Phoenix projects

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic, June 29, 2008] — Financing from Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver’s real-estate company could help bankrupt Mortgages Ltd. continue to fund some big-ticket developments and keep running its business.  Phoenix-based Mortgages Ltd. filed an emergency motion Friday to obtain $125 million from Southwest Value Partners.  Without the money, Mortgages Ltd. says it will not have enough cash to operate.  The company immediately sought $500,000 from the lender for “payroll and other short-term obligations.”  Grace Communities, a developer that borrowed money from Mortgages Ltd., said Friday that it opposes the agreement.

Rendering of Hotel Monroe project in downtown Phoenix.Southwest Value Partners is a real-estate investment company of which Sarver is a co-founder and executive director.  Its loan to Mortgages Ltd., which finances commercial real-estate projects, would be broken into two parts, including $5 million to pay down debt and pay for business expenses and $120 million to fund six development projects.  They include the Centerpoint condo high-rise in Tempe and Hotel Monroe in downtown Phoenix.

Problems at Mortgages Ltd. have intensified since its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Coles died June 2 in an apparent suicide.  The lender filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday after Scottsdale developer Grace Communities tried to force it to liquidate under Chapter 7.  Grace is developing Hotel Monroe, a boutique hotel project that has shut down due to a lack of money to pay contractors.  The developer claims Mortgages Ltd. is behind on funding a $75.6 million construction loan it borrowed for the project.  In its emergency motion, Mortgages Ltd. listed proposed amounts it might give to developers.  They are:


  • $35 million for Hotel Monroe.
  • $5 million for Chateaux on Central, a Victorian-style development that Mortgages Ltd. took ownership of in May under a lawsuit settlement with the project’s developer, Central PHX Partners.
  • $3 million to Zacher Homes, which Clemency said is for infill developments in Phoenix.

Outside Phoenix

  • $75 million for Centerpoint in Tempe, which includes two towers, the first of which is close to completion.
  • $5 million for an entity identified as National Retail.  John Clemency, an attorney for Mortgages Ltd., said that loan was for Tutor Time child-care center.
  • $1.1 million for Grace’s Ten Wine Lofts condo development at Scottsdale and Osborn roads in Scottsdale.

The deal was not finalized as of Friday afternoon and is still subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.  A court hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Up goes downtown Phoenix Civic Space artwork

Click on me and you'll get a larger view of everything in the photo!Blogger “Downtown Resident” took this amazing photo of Janet Echelman’s public art piece now under construction at the downtown Phoenix Civic Space. 

By doing a word search on “Echelman” on this website (upper right), you’ll get a flavor for the artwork’s “ups and downs” of gaining final approval by City leaders.  But that’s all water under the bridge, and the artwork, dubbed “Sky Bloom,” is going up, up, up.