Monthly Archives: September 2008

Tour Phoenix’s rehabbed historic Memorial Hall, Oct. 29

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — Join the City of Phoenix in celebrating the 6 p.m. ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the newly rehabilitated 1922 Memorial Hall, Wednesday, October 29, 2008.  Tours of the historic building will be held from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. and, at 7:30 p.m., enjoy musical performances by local entertainers.  Location: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd.

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Phoenix Fusion @ the Market on Oct. 1

What happens when you mix ASU Downtown students, downtown residents, the Public Market, live music, and performing arts?  We’re not quite sure — but fun is sure to be a large part of the equation!  Join with the Downtown Public Market on Wednesday October 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. as ASU Downtown students and faculty are welcomed to the new and suddenly energized downtown core.

Live music by Hooves and Jeff Gonzales from Jump Back Heart Attack will provide a festive atmosphere to shop and mix by.  Spoken word performances and belly dancing round out the festival atmosphere — come join us to shop, chat, relax, eat, and drink — enjoy the new downtown Phoenix in a unique atmosphere — Phoenix Fusion!

  • Time: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Admission: FREE
  • Location: Downtown Phoenix Public Market, 721 N. Central, SE Corner of Central Ave. & McKinley St. (that’s 2 blks S of Roosevelt – and just 2 blocks north of ASU)

The event is produced in collaboration with: ASU Downtown – School of Community Resources & Development, Special Event Management class students and staff, Vern Biaett, Jr. CFEE, Faculty Associate.

Wachovia sells out to Citigroup; impact on new downtown Phoenix high-rise unclear

[Source: Chris Casacchia, Phoenix Business Journal] — Wachovia Corp.’s major expansion plans in the Phoenix market could be derailed as a result of its sale of its banking operations to Citigroup Inc.  In May, the Phoenix Business Journal reported that the nation’s fourth largest bank planned to open seven branches here by the end of this month.  A year ago, the embattled company, which has lost billions of dollars in the last two quarters and ousted its CEO in June, announced it would be the anchor tenant in the 600,000-square-foot CityScape office tower in downtown Phoenix.

Wachovia officials say it’s too early to discuss how the merger will affect plans in Arizona.  “It’s too early for us to comment on how, if at all, our Arizona operations will be affected post-merger.  Right now, we are open for business as usual and we remain focused on giving our customers Wachovia’s usual outstanding service,” said Wachovia spokeswoman Aimee Worsley.  “At this time, we have no plans to change our commitment to CityScape or our plans to move into our new space.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Group hits streets to help Phoenix homeless

[Source: Lindsey Collom, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix police and Central Arizona Shelter Services are hitting the streets to help the homeless get the social services they need.  A caravan of CASS specialists and Phoenix police crisscross the streets of downtown Phoenix four nights a week to seek out people without shelter and offer assistance, such as a place to stay or enrollment in a detox program.  Officials say the outreach effort, which is nearly two years old, has reached more than 1,800 homeless and helped reduce violent and property crimes in the area from Seventh to 19th avenues and Van Buren Street to Grand Avenue.

Ben Zachariah, supervisor for adult services for CASS, and Phoenix police Sgt. Sean Connelly developed the street team to address root causes of homelessness, including mental illness and substance addiction. Connelly said police in the CASS area used to “arrest our way to solutions.”  But the method was costly and largely ineffective: The city pays nearly $200 to book a suspect into Maricopa County jail on misdemeanor violations, and the suspect is typically released within hours.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix light rail route choice aims to draw passengers

Metro Light Rail

Light rail train in downtown Phoenix (photo: Jack Kurtz, Arizona Republic)

[Source: Glen Creno, Arizona Republic] — The people who planned the Metro light-rail route that opens Dec. 27 wanted to attract a lot of passengers, connect urban hubs, and provide an economic lift to neighborhoods along the line.  The result is a 20-mile route that runs between north-central Phoenix and the western edge of Mesa.  The $1.4 billion system strings together schools, sports arenas, commercial areas, new condominium complexes, and neighborhoods.  Any new light-rail route is controversial, and Metro was no exception.  When the new line opens, there likely will be more questions and complaints about why the line runs here rather than there, why one neighborhood and not another.

Jack Tevlin is a retired city executive who was Phoenix’s deputy city manager for transportation when Metro was planned.  He’s familiar with the complaints.  “People say: ‘I live in Paradise Valley.  This doesn’t help me,’ ” Tevlin said.  “But this is just the beginning.”  Planners see this first stretch as the trunk of a system that will branch out as extensions are added.  The story of how the first stretch of light-rail track was planned is about financial, political and physical challenges, some compromises, some high hopes, and a little history.

Where will be more more office space than downtown Phoenix? Why, Mesa (possibly)

[Gary Nelson, Mesa Republic] — Tens of thousands of jobs.  Millions of dollars in taxes.  Billions of dollars in salaries. The numbers flew like snowflakes in a blizzard Thursday as DMB Associates spelled out what it sees as the likely impact of its Mesa Proving Grounds project.   All well and good, the City Council said.  But they had one request: Put it in writing.  Councilman Scott Somers, who has worried aloud in several recent meetings about whether the project could deliver on its high-flying promises, said several sections of the Proving Grounds’ zoning ordinance should be rewritten to include those economic goals and how they’ll be met.  DMB attorney Grady Gammage Jr. agreed to do that.  The ordinance, still in draft stages, is expected to come before the council next month.

While talk about the possible impact of DMB’s project is nothing new, some of the numbers that came out on Thursday were.  DMB hired Valley economists Elliott Pollack and Alan Maguire to analyze the dollars-and-cents impact of its property in coming decades.  Here’s a sample of what they came up with, using a computer program developed by University of Minnesota economists:

  • At buildout, the 5 square miles is expected to have 20 million square feet of commercial space, 14.5 million square feet of which will be offices. There will be 4,000 hotel rooms, 1.2 million square feet of retail, 15,000 dwelling units with perhaps 37,500 residents and as many as 91,800 permanent jobs.
  • Construction on the entire site will create 116,497 “job years.”  A “job year” is enough work to keep one tradesman busy for a year.  Construction will generate $6.1 billion in total wages.
  • The city would collect $40 million a year in sales taxes and other revenue as the project reaches maturity.
  • Permanent jobs at buildout could generate $4.5 billion in annual wages.
  • The hospitality segment, headlined by the recently announced Gaylord resort, will generate 4,000 to 4,500 jobs with annual wages of $144 million to $162 million.
  • Total construction costs reaching $9.3 billion.

“This is a big deal,” Maguire told the council — echoing precisely the same words Mayor Scott Smith had used in council chambers only three days previously, when the council approved a new general plan for DMB’s land.  Maguire told The Mesa Republic that the numbers could be on the low side.  “All the analysis that was done was done relatively conservatively,” he said.  “These numbers are not sort of pie-in-the-sky numbers.”  

Gammage said the Mesa site is likely to build out with more office space than currently exists in downtown Phoenix and far more than the Scottsdale Airpark, which is hailed as one of the Valley’s economic successes.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix receives $39M for foreclosure aid and neighborhood improvements

[Source: City of Phoenix] — Phoenix officials were informed on September 26 that the city has been allocated $39.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funds under the recent Housing and Economic Recovery Act that Congress passed earlier this summer.  The U.S. Housing and Urban Development will allocate the funds, which can be used in a variety of ways to address abandoned or foreclosed properties, including buyer assistance or other finance mechanisms, rehabilitation, acquisition, demolition, or redevelopment.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon praised Congressmen Ed Pastor from Arizona and Barney Frank from Massachusetts for their push to secure the funding.  “As in the past, we’ll use this money to leverage millions of dollars more from our partners who work hand-in-hand with the city in neighborhood and community improvement projects,” said Gordon.  “These additional dollars will help leverage the economic stimulus package the City Council approved this week that is projected to create 73,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in capital projects over the next two years.”

Councilman Tom Simplot, chair of the Council’s Housing, Neighborhoods, Historic Preservation, and Arts and Culture Subcommittee, echoed the mayor’s sentiments.  “These funds will help improve the quality of life for literally hundreds of residents and neighborhoods impacted by foreclosures,” Simplot said.  “The timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

City of Phoenix creates website for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business

[Source: City of Phoenix] — Individuals interested in starting or relocating a business in Phoenix can now visit a new City website to ensure that their business gets off to a good start and is operating legally.  The website was created by the Business Customer Service Center and addresses topics most commonly raised by businesses starting up in the city.

The site provides information on where to research your business ideas, business planning and advisory tips, tax and licensing requirements, financial assistance, and common regulatory issues in starting a business.   In addition, the website has links to other governmental resources that include state and federal guides for new business owners starting, operating, and growing a business in Arizona.

The Brickhouse in downtown Phoenix closes its doors

[Source: Larry Rodgers, Arizona Republic] — The Brickhouse, a popular venue for modern rock and hip-hop in downtown Phoenix, has shut its doors.  A legal notice posted in the venue’s box-office window says the property has been taken over by the landlord, 1 E. Jackson LLC, for non-payment of rent covering June through September of this year.  “It’s unfortunate because we like having these venues going on downtown,” said Brad Yonover of 1 E. Jackson LLC.  He added that the company, named after the property’s address, is in the process of lining up “a very good replacement that’s going to be within the same (entertainment) arena.”

No mention of the closure is made on two Internet sites tied to the Brickhouse: http://www.brickhouse.tv and http://www.myspace.com/thebrickhousetheater.  The venue’s phone number is no longer in service.  The Brickhouse has hosted such acts as DJ Z-Trip, punk’s the Melvins, modern rock’s Eisley, and the Green Day side project, Foxboro Hot Tubs.  A restaurant, the Chop Shop, also had operated on the property.  Those holding tickets for events scheduled at the Brickhouse should check at the point of purchase regarding refunds or new show locations.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Extended hours sought for Phoenix light rail

[Source: Mike Branom, East Valley Tribune] — When discussing with others the advent of light rail in the Valley, more than once I heard in its favor, “Now I can go drink at Diamondbacks games.”  (Seven bucks for a large draft beer?  Go nuts.)  But Mesa resident Ron Hahn points out a problem with the concept of Metro as designated driver: While bars close at 2 a.m., light rail will stop running two hours before.  “It just doesn’t make sense,” Hahn said.

Thinking about it, Hahn has a point.  All this time, we’ve heard from boosters about how light rail will get cars off the roads during the morning and evening commutes.  But what about the cars heading home from the bars?  Don’t we want them off the streets, too?  “We spend all this money on DUI roadblocks and enforcement,” Hahn said.  “And then when there’s a solution in front of us, they don’t want to do it.”  Metro, after beginning service in December, plans to operate more than 19 hours a day, from 4:40 a.m. until midnight.  Hahn, who voted for the project back in 2000, had hoped it would run 24/7.  

Hahn isn’t alone in the hope of extended hours, at least on the weekends.  A Phoenix organization called the Downtown Voices Coalition recently appealed to the City Council for extended hours.  Among the reasons were the transportation needs of bar and restaurant workers, and how late-night activity is “the measure of a city’s vitality and growth.”  I put a call into Metro on Friday afternoon but never heard back.  When they respond, you’ll hear about it.