Daily Archives: October 8, 2008

Suitors’ fight over Wachovia could affect downtown Phoenix’s CityScape

[Source: Jahna Berry and Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Wachovia Corp.’s dueling suitors could have an impact on a $900 million downtown Phoenix development.  The bank was in talks with Citigroup, which agreed to acquire Wachovia in a deal valued at more than $2 billion.  Wells Fargo & Co. swooped in and announced a more lucrative, $15 billion merger agreement with Wachovia.  That fight could have a ripple effect on the three-block CityScape project rising in downtown Phoenix.  The development includes One East Washington, a 27-story office tower.  Wachovia was supposed to be the anchor tenant in 2010, and planned to lease three floors.

When the Citigroup deal was announced early last week, CityScape’s developers and Wachovia said that nothing has changed — for now.  “It’s too early for us to know how Arizona will be affected, but right now we’re open for business as usual,” said Aimee Worsley, a Wachovia spokeswoman in Los Angeles.  “There are no plans to change the commitment to CityScape, as of today.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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Possible renovations, demolition in Phoenix Warehouse District

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The fate of three properties in Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District was discussed among city Historic Preservation staff and others in early October; two possible renovations and one possible demolition.  Details below:

Historic Preservation staff met with prospective buyers of a vacant warehouse at 515 E. Grant Street on October 3.  Development Services, Downtown Development, and Office of Customer Advocacy staff also attended.  The buyers are the Stanley Sausage Company, which owns a facility at 2201 E. McDowell Road, but is looking to upgrade to a larger building.  The warehouse at 515 E. Grant Street is not listed on either the Phoenix Historic Property Register or the National Register of Historic Places, but is considered eligible for listing; it was built in 1946 for the General Sales Company, was designed by the architectural firm of Lescher & Mahoney and constructed by Del Webb.  Representatives of the Stanley Sausage Company indicated that, if they were to purchase the property, they would likely pursue historic designation for the building and request a grant from the City’s Historic Preservation Bond.  They are also looking at sites outside of Phoenix to relocate their facilities.

The Historic Preservation Office received a Warehouse and Threatened Building Program grant application from Dudley Ventures (James Howard Jr.) to rehabilitate the one-story 1930 Arizona Hardware Supply Company Warehouse at 22 E. Jackson Street.  Because the warehouse’s front façade had previously been stuccoed and the front raised parapet removed, the Historic Preservation Office originally did not consider the building eligible for listing on the Phoenix Historic Property Register, a pre-requisite to apply for a city historic preservation grant.  The owner has since removed the stucco from the brick, has provided plans indicating how the salvaged brick from the front parapet can be reinstalled, and has provided architectural drawings demonstrating how the building can be returned to its historic condition and appearance.  The vacant 6,600 square foot warehouse will be adaptively used for office use by the owner.  The $121,000 grant request will be considered by the Historic Preservation Commission at their October 20, 2008, meeting.  The building would need to be listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register prior to expending any bond dollars for the grant, if the grant application is approved by City Council.

Michael Levine, owner of Phoenix Seed and Feed Warehouse, 411 S. 2nd Street, filled a demolition application for the historic warehouse due to difficulties with his lender.  Because the property is historically designated, the building cannot be demolished until the one-year stay of demolition expires, and the demolition is subject to an approved replacement plan on the site.

Rainbows Festival draws big crowds to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Najat Omer, Arizona Republic] — You may not expect to pay $5 for a cold glass of cold lemonade unless you’re at a ballgame, but at the seventh annual Rainbows Festival last weekend in downtown Phoenix, patrons knew their money would go to a worthy cause.  The annual two-day free festival at Heritage Square Park drew about 25,000 people from around the Valley.  Organizers said they raised about $40,000 through drink sales and donated the profits to Phoenix Pride, Equality Arizona, and the Community Church of Hope among other organizations, Don Hamill, the festival’s coordinator said.

Christopher Jones, with Instinct Magazine, believes the willingness of visitors to support local organizations is obvious.  “This is our bread and butter,” Jones said.  “We like to support our own.  Even if we’re strapped for cash, we all want to support the vendors here.”

Sunday was the largest single day of attendance in the event’s history, attracting about 15,000 visitors, Hamill said, attributing that number to another event that coincided with the date of the Rainbows Festival this year, the AIDS Walk 2008.  That fundraiser brought an estimated 5,000 people to the festival.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona ranks 23rd for energy efficiency policies

[Source: B. Poole, Tucson Citizen] — Arizona failed to make the top 10 among states in energy efficiency policies, according to one nonprofit group.  The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked the state 23rd based on eight categories, including spending on energy efficiency programs, building codes, tax incentives, and transportation policy, according to its news release.

Vermont, Connecticut, and California tied for first on the list, and North Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi came in last.  Just nine states scored better than 50% out of a possible 44 points in the analysis.  Arizona scored 11.5 points.  The top three states scored 33 points each.  Click here for the full report.

Viewpoint: To improve the economy, improve infrastructure

[Source: Nate Berg, Planetizen] — In this piece from Citiwire, Jonathan D. Miller argues that infrastructure and the economy are not islands.  Improving the nation’s infrastructure, he says, will improve the economy.

“In fact, a retooled national infrastructure will be an essential part of the solution to maintaining our economic clout and future prosperity, while providing the needed stimulus of a near-term jobs engine.”

“The challenges are huge: Our once-vaunted interstate system is overwhelmed by traffic around major gateway cities and along truck corridors.  Our metro regions lack public transit systems robust enough to tame oil consumption and sustain future growth.  The nation has literally zero high-speed rail lines and may need four or more major new airports.  Major East and West coastal ports have turned into huge bottlenecks and our national freight shipping network needs radical upgrading.  Chronic traffic jams, lost time, higher driving, and logistics costs can only get worse as the U.S. population expands by an expected 100 million people between now and 2040.”

Free webcast on attracting retail to downtowns and neighborhoods, Nov. 6

[Source: Buxton Company— Over the past few decades, many American cities have lost much of the retail density and diversity that made downtowns and older neighborhoods destinations for shoppers.  Retail businesses in downtowns and along commercial corridors in neighborhoods especially suffered from changing retail patterns and shopping habits.  Today many cities are actively involved in downtown and neighborhood revitalization activities.  They envision healthy downtowns and neighborhoods as integral to their identity, tax base, and sense of community.  Strengthening the retail base by attracting new retailers and restaurants has become an accepted strategy for revitalization.

During this comprehensive 60-minute webcast, participants will hear how communities are attracting and growing their retail sectors in underserved geographic areas.

  • Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008
  • Time: 11:30 AM EST / 10:30 AM CST / 8:30 AM PST
  • Format: one hour session, including Q&A

Speakers:

  • Anne Stedler, Senior Development Officer, City of San Jose, CA
  • Chip Rodgers, Senior Vice President, CommunityID, Buxton
  • Bill Shelton, CEcD, Partner, CommunityID, Buxton

Click here to register for this free webcast.  Once registration is complete you will receive an e-mail with detailed instructions to join the webcast.

Phoenix reversible lane debate takes a break

[Source: Eric English, ABC Channel 15] — The Phoenix City Council voted Tuesday evening to put off a move to alter the traffic patterns of 7th Avenue and 7th Street.  The council will seek to study the often confusing ‘reverse traffic lanes’ for another six months.  City leaders want to see what impacts the light rail system will have on the downtown traffic flow.  The city will, however, move forward with additional signs and lighting for pedestrians at Glenrosa Avenue and 7th Avenue.

In Phoenix, an answer for chain stores and recessions

Gina Madrid, Drip Coffee Lounge

[Source: Tye Cameron, The Zonie Report] — A middle-aged man walked in just after Drip Coffee Lounge opened at 7:30 a.m.  His drink, a small double-shot café americano latte with organic low-fat milk, was already being made for him by the owner herself, Gina Madrid.  They chat briefly in a vernacular that exclusively exists between barista and regular before the local man pays in exact change and walks out.  It was just the beginning of another successful day for the Downtown Phoenix small business model.  “One of the reasons why I opened Drip was because […at chain eateries] you walk away and you feel… ill,” Madrid says as she adjusted the volume on the iPod speakers. Her independently owned cafe has a modern architectural design, and business cards of local artists and entrepreneurs line the front counter.  “When you are providing something good for yourself, that in turn spills over to the people next to you, and so on.”

Independently owned small businesses in the Downtown Phoenix historic districts have thrived in the face of an influx of corporate chains to the city because of their adaptability and willingness to work together. “When you drive down the street, you’re gonna see the Applebee’s, but you’re not gonna see the Stinkweeds right across the street, or know what it is,” says Kimber Lanning, owner of both Stinkweeds Records on Camelback Road at Central Avenue and Modified Arts, a popular music venue and art gallery on Fifth and Roosevelt streets.  Lacking the financial clout of a large corporation, local entrepreneurs say they rely on adaptable business models to contend in the Phoenix economy.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]