[Source: Tony Arranaga, Light Rail Blogger] — Downtown Phoenix reminds me of a puzzle. Over the last several weeks, and in various parts of the city, I’ve noticed a new piece being added to the bigger picture of a vibrant urban core. I told you about the Phoenix Public Market opening soon, and earlier tonight there was a dedication of the A.E. England Building at the Civic Space Park. Si Robins gave us a preview of the festivities in the Downtown Phoenix Journal. The building has an interesting past as Seth Anderson, an Arizona native, points out in his blog:
The building was built in 1926 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style and was used as a Hudson and Essex auto dealership. The large windows displayed the cars and it became Phoenix’s first “auto row.” In the 1930s the building was sold to the Electrical Equipment Company. They sold radios, batteries, and refrigerators up until the 1950s. It changed hands numerous times and fell into disrepair and abuse until 2005 when it was purchased by the City of Phoenix to be integrated into the new Civic Space Park.
Tonight was the first chance the public had to see the inside of the England building – which has Central Station as its neighbor on the south and ASU’s Cronkite building to the east. I pass the old brick landmark during my carfree travels on the lightrail, but this is the first time I’ve seen the inside.
The city of Phoenix did a great job restoring the building and making it functional for public use. A window encased mezzanine wraps around a huge conference hall at the center of the building. Outside the building there’s the Civic Space Park stage and grass area and of course the public art display “Her Secret is Patience.” Did I mention the England has a basement which contains the second location for local coffee house Fair Trade Cafe? I unlocked my bike to go home and noticed all the people enjoying the weather at the park. Phoenix has a centerpiece and I love it! [Note: Read more of Tony’s light rail blog entries here.]