Monthly Archives: May 2009

Viewpoint: How the Crash will Reshape America

picture-371[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp., and Nancy Levinson, ASU Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory] — Author Richard Florida opines in the March issue of Atlantic Monthly that the crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide — destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners.  But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others.

On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today.  What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix?  Will the suburbs be ineffably changed?  Which cities and regions can come back strong?  And which will never come back at all?  Click here to read the full article.

Sustainable Home Ownership Coalition formed by Phoenix non-profits

[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — Anticipating the magnitude of the bank-owned inventory in Arizona, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) convened a coalition of 14 community development corporations to form the Sustainable Home Ownership (SHO) coalition in 2008 in an effort to revitalize the local communities.  The result is a long-term strategy to increase the capacity of the non-profit housing sector by creating a single-source solution to match qualified buyers with available properties.

SHO provides one single point of contact for jurisdictions, real estate owned (REO) servicers and buyers.  Each of the 14 participating community development corporations brings a unique strength to the initiative, including: housing counseling, pre-purchase education, property rehabilitation, lending services, down payment assistance, and geographic reach.

The SHO initiative will provide ownership opportunities for buyers that are affordable at purchase and sustainable over the long-term which is “key to responsible communities.” Click here for information on becoming a new homeowner or to sign up for e-mail alerts.

Arizona Centennial Legacy Projects in Phoenix, statewide

What projects are planned for your neighborhood or community?  For more information about Arizona’s Centennial efforts, click here.

Viewpoint: The rise of a desert city (Phoenix)

[Source: Marshall Trimble, Special for the Arizona Republic] — “Ask anyone about why Phoenix is here.  Most people can’t answer that. Why do 4 million people live here?” – Michael Crow, Arizona State University president, meeting with The Arizona Republic’s Editorial Board in April

OK, why is Phoenix here?  In fact, what explains the tremendous growth of Phoenix, a desert city, over the past 65 years?  And where is this sprawling, go-go city headed?  We posed those questions to Arizona’s official state historian, Marshall Trimble, and Philip VanderMeer, an ASU historian and authority on Phoenix.

Today, Trimble explores the birth of Phoenix.  Next Sunday, VanderMeer will examine the factors that have contributed to Phoenix’s growth since World War II.  And, on June 14, VanderMeer will look at what the future may hold for the city.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

“Malls R Us” documentary to be aired, downtown Phoenix, June 30

Downtown Voices Coalition, Modified Arts, and No Festival Required present “Malls R Us,” a documentary film by Helene Klodawsky:

  • Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
  • Time: 8 p.m. (doors at 7:45 p.m.)
  • Place: Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix
  • Admission: $6 ($1 off with student ID)

Combining nostalgia, dazzling architecture, pop culture, economics, and politics, “Malls R Us” examines North America’s most popular and profitable suburban destination — the enclosed shopping center — and how for consumers they function as a communal, even ceremonial experience and, for retailers, sites where their idealism, passion, and greed merge.

Growth may stall for UA medical school in downtown Phoenix

UA medical school, downtown Phoenix (Photo: Arizona Daily Star)

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] — The University of Arizona wants to rapidly expand its medical school in downtown Phoenix to ensure a steady supply of medical workers for the state and an economic punch for the center city.  But university officials say the school’s growth is in jeopardy because of the state’s budget troubles and lawmakers’ reluctance to release $400 million in state Lottery funds to expand the campus.  The money would pay for two new buildings — an education building and a research building — that would house students, faculty, and scientists and anchor the biomedical campus.

University officials say the campus is simply running out of space and cannot match the state’s need for more doctors and medical professionals.  “We are making do, barely, with the space we have,” said William Crist, UA’s vice president for health affairs. “Without this medical center continuing to grow, we don’t have the capacity to train medical professionals in Arizona.”

University of Arizona and Phoenix city officials are pressing state lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer to provide the money they say is critical to the future health of the downtown medical school.  They worry that prospective medical school students may search elsewhere if the Phoenix school cannot grow and offer the types of services that students expect. “They are bright people (students), they are going to look around,” said Stuart Flynn, dean of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University. “Once students begin figuring this out, that is when we will not be able to get the highest-caliber students.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

CenPhoTV for the week of 05/29/2009

A weekly video webcast about Phoenix living.  For more information, visit their website.

Mesa mayor to fight court’s move to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Mesa Mayor Scott Smith doesn’t want East Valley residents to get stuck paying for the closing of Maricopa County Superior Court’s criminal divisions through extra travel costs and inconvenience.  Smith plans to fight against plans to move the criminal divisions to Phoenix by the end of this year by meeting with Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell and the East Valley’s two representatives on the Board of Supervisors. “I think it would be a huge disservice to the East Valley for these courts to move,” Smith said.  “It’s shifting the costs and burden to individual citizens.”

He said the size of Maricopa County alone justifies a full-service courthouse, including criminal courts. “We’re a huge county. The citizens are not served when the services are so far away,” Smith said.

But Mundell’s not budging, saying the move is necessary to improve efficiency and save money on transporting defendants from Phoenix jails to the Mesa courthouse for hearings on felony cases.  “I would love to have criminal in all of our facilities,” in Mesa, northeast Phoenix, and Surprise, she said, but county can’t afford it.

The county also is building a controversial $343 million criminal tower in downtown Phoenix that is scheduled to open in 2012. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Group seeks funds for downtown Phoenix Latino cultural center

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — A consortium of Latino arts groups has taken several early steps to bring a small Latino cultural center to downtown Phoenix.  That includes a kickoff fundraiser tonight that will help the group raise money for that center and lay the groundwork for a $10 million Phoenix facility they want to build years down the road. But Advocates for Latin@ Arts & Culture Consortium, Inc. may have to postpone its plans to open that temporary center in the fall.

The group has key fund-raising and bureaucratic hurdles to clear before that space could open its doors:

  • The group has yet to secure a $25,000 loan that would provide the initial money for the temporary cultural center.
  • The consortium has had early discussions with Phoenix officials about leasing the city-owned space that used to house the Museo Chicano, a small museum that closed in January.  But the group needs to submit a detailed proposal and a business plan, said Kathy Wenger, a deputy director at the Phoenix Convention Center, which manages the lease for that storefront.
  • Any lease would need to be approved by a City Council subcommittee and the full council.

[Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix still a “work in progress”

[Source: Kevin Tripp and Bob McClay, KTAR Radio] — Studies indicate growth and development across the country are moving away from the suburbs toward center cities and close-in suburbs.  In Phoenix, downtown is changing, but it’s still a work in progress, said Mayor Phil Gordon. There’s a traditional definition: “roughly Seventh Avenue to Seventh Street, Jackson Street to Roosevelt,” the mayor said.   But, with light rail, what’s thought of as “downtown” is expanding northward and the growing popularity of urban areas helps.   “The term downtown really has become a marketing label now that people want to be downtown,” said Gordon.

“What’s unique about Phoenix is it’s becoming a linear downtown, connected by light rail and connected by a core — primarily old historic buildings scattered among a lot of new buildings in different shapes.  Ours is a linear core now that goes all the way to Camelback.”

Downtown is still without some basics, but that should change as an A.J.’s grocery store and a CVS pharmacy open by early 2011, the mayor said, adding that the area is coming together piece by piece.  “There’s all these new little cafes and little bars that have gone into old buildings with its own ambiance.”

As for the trend of people moving to the center city, Arizona State University Real Estate Professor Jay Butler said home values show central Phoenix is desirable.  “There’s some evidence that home values are more stable in the older areas and that would tend to show that people are looking at, or maintaining, the old traditional areas,” Butler said.  He said people want to be close to everything that’s important to them “close to work, close to friends, family, churches.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]