Daily Archives: September 23, 2008

Phoenix Urban Affair events kick off Sept. 26

How Phoenix fared in sustainability rankings of 50 U.S. cities

[Source: Arizona Republic] — SustainLane.com ranked cities in 16 green categories.  Here’s how Phoenix stacks up overall against 49 other large municipalities in key areas:

  • Low natural-disaster risk: 3rd
  • Knowledge base and communications: 9th
  • Planning and land use: 11th
  • City innovation: 12th
  • Housing affordability: 29th
  • Green building: 33rd
  • Metro street congestion: 33rd
  • Local food and agriculture: 34th
  • Air quality: 47th
  • Water supply: 49th

In green ranking, Phoenix drops to #32

[Source: Ginger D. Richardson, Arizona Republic] — Ever wonder who gets to proudly bear the moniker “The Greenest City”?  Hint: It’s not Phoenix.  A new survey out Monday ranks the 50 largest U.S. municipalities based on their performance in 16 key eco-friendly categories, including the ability to maintain air quality, a solid drinking-water supply , and use of public transit and alternative fuels.  Portland came in first; Phoenix was No. 32, dropping 10 places from its ranking just two years ago.

Adding more insult to injury: Detroit has topped Phoenix as the more “sustainable” municipality, having jumped 12 places to claim the 31st spot.  The Motor City was lauded for its efforts to revitalize blighted land while Phoenix was knocked for its poor air quality and lack of plentiful water supply.  This is the first year the report measured each city’s water supply using data such as level of drought, population-growth rate and gallons of water consumed per person each day.  Those factors hurt Mesa, too, which saw its overall green-city ranking fall to No. 50 from No. 47 in 2006.

Still, SustainLane, which bills itself as the largest online community dedicated to healthful, sustainable living, did find some positive things to say about the Valley.  Phoenix, for example, won kudos for its reuse of wastewater, its soon-to-open light rail and its recent push to use more solar energy.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wayfinding to make it easier to get around downtown Phoenix

[Source: Kristena Hansen, Arizona Republic] — The Downtown Wayfinding System, costing just under $1 million, aims to make downtown Phoenix more hospitable and welcoming to visitors and Valley residents.  The new signage system hopes to make it easier for people to find their way around and will also tie into public transportation, including the new light-rail line that will begin operating Dec. 27.  “They not only service those who are driving to downtown but also help provide ease of travel for those who are on foot,” said Terry Madeksza, spokesperson for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

The signs will promote new and existing venues, enhance parking identification, add pedestrian mapping and guides and point to historical markers, Madeksza said.  Along with directing vehicles and pedestrians to and from major destinations, the partnership hopes it will market opportunities for people to extend their stays.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

“Upper” midtown Phoenix neighborhood association created

In the middle of this new neighborhood sits the Financial Center.

[Source: Alton Jones, Chair, Phoenix Central Neighborhood Association] — The Phoenix Central Neighborhood Association was created recently to begin a dialogue with residents, property owners, and those who hold a business license within the geographical boundaries of Indian School and Thomas Roads and 7th Avenue and 3rd Street about business, crime, education, entertainment, politics, sports, and transportation issues happening within the neighborhood.  This does not include the Park Central Neighborhood Association’s boundaries of Osborn Road to Earll Drive and 6th to 4th Avenues.

A more informed and interactive neighborhood community will be built by sharing comments and videos for daily Blogs, RSS feeds, and video broadcast on their website.  Alerts and other association news will be sent when interested persons sign up with Evite, Google Calendar, or subscribe to RSS feeds for enews.

Quote of the Day: “Green McMansions”

In “The Bad News About Green Architecture,” Newsweek architecture critic Cathleen McGuigan criticizes green architecture for missing the point.  From the article:

Modern Phoenix)

McMansion on Missouri (Photo: Modern Phoenix)

Achieving real sustainability is much more complicated than the publicity suggests…  When it comes to green, people don’t want to hear that size matters.  We keep building not just bigger entertainment complexes but bigger houses.  “Green McMansion” is one of my favorite oxymorons.  Currently the average new house is 2,500 square feet, up 1.5% in size from last year — though the shock of this winter’s fuel bills may finally slow the trend.  Building green houses—or at least advertising them as green — is on the rise, though there are no national standards about what constitutes a green home.  People are attracted to sustainable houses partly as a cool novelty, when in fact green dwellings have been around for eons.  Think of igloos, tepees or yurts — they took advantage of readily available local materials and were designed to suit their specific environments.  Shelters around the world tend to be situated to benefit from the sun in the winter or to shield their inhabitants from chilling winds.  But we forgot those basic principles when we plunked down every possible style of house into our sprawling American suburbs.

Mortgages Ltd. agreements may restart stalled projects, including Hotel Monroe in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — Attorneys for Mortgages Ltd. plan to unveil settlement agreements this week with several developers who contend that the bankrupt real-estate lender underfunded construction loans.  The settlements could allow some of the developers to move forward on a boutique hotel [in downtown Phoenix], high-end condos, and other high-profile projects that have stalled because of the lender’s bankruptcy.  The agreements, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval, will affect the standing of more than a thousand investors who supplied Mortgages Ltd. with millions of dollars to make construction and development loans.

Investors’ rights are a sticky issue in the 3-month-old bankruptcy.  Mortgages Ltd. had more than $900 million in about 70 loans to developers and land speculators when one of its borrowers pushed it into bankruptcy in late June.  Most of the money came from about 2,700 investors, who put money in various investment vehicles the company managed.  Some invested directly in specific loans.  Others bought memberships in limited-liability companies that owned interests in multiple loans.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]