Daily Archives: April 6, 2009

Light rail attracts small business to uptown Phoenix

[Source: Kevin Tripp/KTAR] — It’s hip, it’s hot, and it’s not a shopping mall — one uptown Phoenix neighborhood is bucking the recession.  Right where the light rail line makes its turn at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, several new, locally-owned businesses are opening.  Daniel Wayne is renovating a shop on Central, just south of Camelback.  It will open next month as Lola Coffee.  Wayne said the area has an important feature: “When I first came to look at this space, I walked in and I could look out on Central and the light rail went by.  That helped me with my decision, it feels like a city.”

Just up Central, Postino Wine Cafe is brand new — and already packed.  Partner Craig DeMarco thinks the neighborhood will be a prime location for years to come.  “I think it’s going to be the hot spot of the whole Valley,” DeMarco said.

Wayne said light rail makes the area more pedestrian friendly. “That’s the vision, I think, of everyone around here — to be able to just enjoy your neighborhood…  The goal in any city is to be pedestrian friendly and that’s what it’s coming to — where you can walk out of your place because there’s a lot of living space around here and be able to say, ‘Let’s go for coffee, let’s go for a drink, let’s go for dessert.'”

DeMarco agrees.  “I think it (light rail) brought a lot more attention to the neighborhood.  I’d been using it, so I was more familiar in noticing the great architecture and the great landscaping and just the great neighbors in general.”

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said 44 new businesses have opened up in central Phoenix because of light rail and that the space available signs are beginning to disappear.  “If you take a look at the for rent or for sale signs along light rail, there’s very few now, and we’re starting to see smaller businesses,” said Gordon.

New study says Phoenix-area jobs keep moving outward

[Source: Betty Beard, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix area saw more “job sprawl” — that is more jobs opening up in its suburbs — than any other U.S. metro area over the past decade, says a new report released today from the Brookings Institution.  The percentage of jobs located more than 10 miles from downtown Phoenix grew by 8.5 percent between 1998 and 2006.  That was a higher percentage of migrating jobs than seen in any of the other 97 metro areas studied. At the same time, the percentage of Valley-wide jobs within 3 miles of downtown Phoenix fell by 7 percent.

Although the migration is good for suburban residents and for the coffers of outlying cities, the Brookings Institution says job sprawl has some disadvantages. “It can boost energy consumption, add to the costs of building infrastructure for businesses that locate far from the urban core, increase commuting times, reduce innovation by lessening opportunities for firms to interact and exchange ideas, and isolate low-income and minority workers in the urban core from employment opportunities in outlying areas,” the report said.

In 95 of the 98 metro areas studied, jobs migrated out.   Today, only 21 percent of employees work within 3 miles of urban cores, and 45 percent work more than 10 miles away.  But Phoenix was relatively centralized compared with most, because 25.8 percent of all jobs were within 3 miles of downtown Phoenix.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]