Daily Archives: July 17, 2008

City Council balks at terms for regional transit/planning building

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — A plan to locate the county’s major transit and planning agencies in downtown Phoenix is on life support following the Phoenix City Council’s opposition to tax breaks for the project.  For more than a year, the Maricopa Association of Governments, the Regional Public Transportation Authority, and Metro light rail have discussed sharing a building, hoping co-locating would lead to cost savings and better cooperation between the agencies.  A fourth agency, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, is also participating.

An initial effort to construct a building at taxpayer expense failed when elected officials balked at the high price tag.  Earlier this year, focus shifted to buying an existing building somewhere in downtown Phoenix.  Now that effort is collapsing as well.  The board of Metro light rail voted Wednesday to reject a proposal to move to 210 E. Earll Drive, the consensus pick of MAG and RPTA.  Metro found that its share of the building would be $30.8 million, or 15% higher than the cost remaining at their current location in the 101 Building downtown.

The cost to move into the new building was higher than expected because Mayor Phil Gordon and a majority of the council oppose allowing the agencies to lease the building from Phoenix at a discounted rate.  Gordon might support such an agreement if the location were closer to downtown Phoenix, a spokesman said.  The council has a policy of not allowing the tax break, known as the government property lease excise tax, outside the downtown core.  MAG and RPTA are meeting this week and next to discus the Earll location.  Unless a new spot is agreed upon by December, the agencies will likely be on their own, officials said.

Census shows older U.S. cities hold on to more people, Phoenix slows

[Source: William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution] — Newly released U.S. Census Bureau population data for U.S. cities show a new twist on a well-known theme that could be good news for older cities hoping to reverse population declines of the past.  The familiar part of the report indicates that most of the nation’s fastest growing cities are located in the South and interior West.  Places like McKinney, TX; North Las Vegas, NV; and Cary, NC, are registering growth rates that cities in baseball’s “American League Central” division (e.g., Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City) can only dream about.  But the new estimates also show a clear retrenchment of the old “Snowbelt to Sunbelt” population surge, a turnaround that has brought modest gains to many older and coastal cities that lost population earlier in the decade.

Population trends in the nation’s nine largest cities (those with over one million residents) offer a glimpse at the story (Table 1).  Three of these — Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego — flipped from population declines to gains in the past year, while their more high-flying sunbelt counterparts — Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas — showed reduced levels of growth.  The growth slowdowns in Houston and Phoenix were substantial, while at the same time, Chicago’s modest gain was the first registered since 2001.  Another notable flip occurred in Boston, which last year became the fastest growing city in the Northeast, after losing population the year before.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix spared (so far) from Starbucks closures

Starbucks has not identified which 600 stores it plans to close between now and March 2009, but the news is “filtering” through baristas, the press, and others.  If you know of a Starbucks that’s closing, let the Seattle Times know (as they’re compiling a nationwide Google map).  And for coffee alternatives in our fair city and state, click here.

July 19 update: The Starbucks in Eloy, AZ is set to close.  Details here.

Find out what’s happening in south downtown Phoenix, July 29

On July 29, find out what’s happening in south downtown Phoenix, otherwise known as SoDo.  Sponsored by SKY Marketing & Urban Affair, the informal discussion will be led by Lyle Plocher featuring several SoDo businesses such as Brickhouse, Royal Coffee Bar, Sweet Pea Bakery, Coach & Willie’s, Cooperstown, The Ruby Room, and El Portal.  And food is involved: burger, fries, and beverage special for $5.

Ignite Phoenix was formed in 2007 to activate spirited and stimulating dialogue around Phoenix’s emerging creative culture.  To meet others who are making things happen…to connect the dots.  There are no presidents, treasurers, committees, or dues.  The only cost are the drinks and/or food you consume.

Downtown Phoenix parking rate jumps 50%

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — The median monthly parking rate in Phoenix’s central business district jumped 50% to $52.50 from a year ago, according to a survey by commercial real-estate broker Colliers International.  Yet, Phoenix had the third-cheapest median rate in the country behind Bakersfield, Calif. ($40 per month) and Reno ($45 per month).

The five most expensive parking districts were New York City’s Midtown area ($585), downtown New York City ($462), Boston ($460), San Francisco ($350), and Chicago ($310).  Colliers’ annual North America Parking Rate Survey predicts that as rates increase locally, use of public transit will rise.

Where to park in downtown Phoenix (Downtown Phoenix Partnership)

Where to park in downtown Phoenix (Downtown Phoenix Partnership)