Grand Avenue proponents map out possible future

Birdseye view of Grand Avenue, Phoenix, AZOn June 12, 2008, a “visioning” session was organized by the Grand Avenue Merchants Association (GAMA). Facilitating the event was Dale Erquiaga, who also donated his time to help GAMA craft a long term vision for Grand Avenue and vicinity.  Participants, listed below, included current business owners, residents, property owners, potential future property owners, and District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski and staff.

  • Effie Bouras, Architect
  • Pat Clegg, Owner ACC Machinery
  • Tim Eigo, Capitol Weed and Seed Coalition, Downtown Voices Coalition, and resident
  • Dale Erquiaga, Facilitator
  • Ruben Gallegos, Council Staff
  • Richard Gordon, Owner Bikini Cocktails
  • Bob Graham, Owner Motley Design Group
  • Roberta Graham, Owner Motley Design Group
  • Eric Gudino, ASU, Downtown Phoenix Campus Liaison
  • Kyle Jordre, Jordre Studio Owner and resident
  • Beatrice Moore, Property Owner and resident
  • Michael Nowakowski, Councilman District 7
  • Joe Murphy, Council Staff
  • Mark Richmond, Mark Richmond Development
  • Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro, LLC
  • Gina Suarez, Owner Paisley Violin and resident
  • Amina Uben, Owner Chez Nous
  • Feliciana Vera, Habitat Metro, LLC
  • Robin, Becky, and Mina Vining, residents
  • Nathan Ward, Resident
  • Tony Zahn, Property owner and resident

Below are comments made by participants when asked various questions by Dale (who condensed and transcribed information on large sheets of paper), or when individuals divided up into smaller groups, collaborated on language and descriptions, and reported back to the full group:

“Why I am living/working/playing on Grand Avenue?”

  • Affordable with potential for existing development
  • All the space we needed
  • Authentic
  • Authenticity
  • Best place to buy a new home, raise a family and still be part of the art and all that’s going on
  • Can do something here; get my hands dirty
  • Caring, loving, unique; compared to the myths of gangs, dangerous, etc.
  • Close to work
  • Community, character, diversity
  • Different
  • Diverse, interesting
  • Feels like a city, a little bit of a mess
  • “Free” independent community I want to be part of
  • Grew up here; it’s home
  • Has character and is full of “characters”
  • Has potential
  • I like having skyscrapers for neighbors
  • “It” felt right
  • Live and work
  • Opportunity
  • Opportunity & potential
  • Place where you can be surprised
  • “Real City” feel
  • Safe
  • Unique environment within Phoenix
  • Vitality like a real city
  • Walkable/sustainable

“What makes a great neighborhood?”

  • Accessibility (parking, walkable, jaywalking; we need to bend the rules a little)
  • Affordable
  • Atmosphere/aura included
  • Chaotic, unfinished, sense of potential
  • Cohesion
  • Daytime activity = housing, people, occupants (affordable)
  • Diversity in cultural and economic uses
  • Events
  • Feelin’ Groovy, comfy, welcome
  • Inclusive/complete; what you need is there
  • Integration/connectivity to outside physical universe
  • Mix of live/work/play – potential
  • Nature; Not pre-fab (Indoor/outdoor living)
  • Re-use (adaptive)/historic
  • Sense of community
  • Sense of difference
  • Sense of purpose
  • Sense of timelessness
  • Sustainable design

At the end of the two-hour session, participants summarized statements that best defined the thoughts generated throughout the evening, and best described the neighborhood everyone wanted to live, work, and play in: 

  • “Grand Avenue can be a diverse, sustainable urban boulevard and a funky cultural community and destination, without gentrification.”
  • “Grand Avenue can be a vital place/destination for economic and cultural diversity with chaotic character filled with small businesses providing self sufficiency for a neighborhood; plus, a diffusion of people from the main avenue into the neighborhood to experience exciting niches — parks, Laundromats, restaurants, etc.”

For more information about GAMA or “next steps” in the strategic planning process, contact Beatrice Moore at 602-391-4016.

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