Daily Archives: September 21, 2008

Restoration begins on another historic building at Phoenix’s Steele Indian School Park

Phoenix Indian School Dining Hall by phxpma.[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — Work has started on the exterior rehabilitation of the 1902 Dining Hall at Steele Indian School Park.  This project is funded with 2006 Historic Preservation Bond Funds and will take approximately one year to complete (September 2009).   The scope of work will be to stabilize and fully repair the brick exteriors, perform structural stabilization work, rehabilitate wood and steel windows, complete major roof improvements, and repaint.  Additional funds will be needed to complete interior restoration and tenant improvements.

Airline woes pinch Arizona, Phoenix tourism

[Source: Dawn Gilbertson, Arizona Republic] — Airline flight cuts and higher airfares this fall will bring fewer visitors to Arizona, delivering a punishing one-two punch to the state’s limping economy.  In Phoenix, more than 1 of 10 flights are gone from a year ago.  Nearly 70 daily departures have disappeared from Sky Harbor International Airport’s schedule, the equivalent of losing service from almost every major airline except US Airways and Southwest.

Fewer seats for sale means airlines can charge more.  Tickets for Phoenix flights departing in October are up an average 28 percent from a year ago, according to Farecast.live.com.  Flights to Boston and Chicago are each up 50 percent.  In a tourism hotbed where the majority of visitors arrive by plane, fewer flights and higher fares mean fewer customers for hotels, restaurants, spas, and golf courses.  At risk: A substantial slice of $19 billion in annual visitor spending in Arizona.  This comes after months of reduced numbers in hotel occupancy and airport traffic as people struggle with a plunging stock market, the housing meltdown and other economic woes.  “We know we’re in for a period of some rough times,” said Steve Moore, chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona mortgage failures fuel crisis

[Source: Christie Smythe, Arizona Daily Star] — The financial risks taken by Arizona home buyers and lenders in the housing run-up came home to roost in last week’s financial crisis.  As Tucson, Phoenix, and Pinal County struggle with excesses of home inventory and painful drops in values, big financial companies that helped inflate the bubble are suffering, even up to venerable Wall Street institutions such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.  “It was a vicious cycle of greed,” said University of Arizona finance professor Christopher Lamoureux, referencing home buyers, lenders, and Wall Street investors, and others who contributed to the situation. [Note: To read the full article, click here.  Click on the graphic to view it full-size.]

Too many houses from 2004-06 boom spoil metro Phoenix’s outlook

[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — There’s no doubt that too many new homes went up across metropolitan Phoenix during the 2004-06 boom.  What has been in dispute is just how “overbuilt” the housing market is now.  New research from the firm of Arizona economist and real-estate investor Elliott Pollack shows the housing market built up to 75,000 more homes than there were buyers for in the Valley.  That figure is based on “demand” for 35,000 homes a year in metro Phoenix.

In 2005, almost 64,000 new homes went up, according to RL Brown’s Housing Market Report.  Home building has slowed considerably since then.  Last month, only 970 single-family permits were issued Valley-wide, making it the slowest month since the real-estate crash of 1991.  And though home builders are on track to build only about 15,000 homes this year, there’s still overhang from the boom.  Pollack estimates there are still 30,000 to 50,000 new homes that need to be “absorbed” or bought and lived in Valley-wide.  But he said these factors are slowing the absorption of new homes: a decline in population growth, too many homes for sale, rising foreclosures, and the continued construction of homes.  The surplus of new homes will put off the housing market’s recovery, but by how long depends on all those other economic factors.

Google’s decision to leave metro Phoenix spotlights need for diversification

[Source: Chad Graham, Arizona Republic] — Google Inc. arrived on Arizona State University’s campus in 2006, creating a sensation and the promise of hundreds of high-quality jobs.  Tempe was one of 50 sites around the world with one of the search giant’s engineering offices.  One employee bragged to The Arizona Republic about the “culture of creativity.”  That culture disappeared on Friday when Google announced plans to close the office and allow the 50 employees to relocate to California or New York.  That relatively minor job loss won’t rock the economy.  But what if Google had stayed?

In a small way, the company might have helped to further more collaboration and innovation between the best and brightest at ASU.  That might have translated into new firms and products.  Because like begets like, more innovative companies (employing computer scientists, engineers, alternative energy entrepreneurs, and high-tech health-care professionals) might have been attracted to the innovation coming out of the Valley.  Those workers would create new products and new ideas that could be sold in the global marketplace.  That would create new, diverse streams of revenue flowing into Arizona’s economy from around the world.

OK, maybe Google’s tiny office wouldn’t have had such a major impact, but there’s nothing to lose in this awful economy by playing the “what-if” game.  In the past year, Phoenix has paid dearly for its decades-long addiction to housing and growth.  During the boom times, the region almost overdosed.  And it did little to diversity its economy and retrain workers for the jobs of the new century.  Home prices have fallen rapidly, foreclosures have skyrocketed and unemployment is up.  The credit crunch has dried up money for development.  Consumers have run out of money to shop and sales-tax revenue has plummeted.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix residents urged to attend Sept. 23 forums on November ballot initiatives

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Two community forums will be held on Tuesday, September 23 to help Phoenix residents become acquainted with the eight propositions on the November 4 ballot.

  • Valley Citizens League will hold a presentation at noon Tuesday in the Arizona Public Service building, 400 N. 5th St.  Reservations for lunch are required and can be made online or by calling 602-250-3747.
  • The Arizona Secretary of State, Maricopa Community Colleges, and Cox Communications are sponsoring a Town Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Phoenix College Bulpitt Auditorium, 1202 W. Thomas Rd.

Click here for a summary of Arizona’s 2008 ballot initiatives.