Monthly Archives: April 2010

Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike

Visiting the murals in the alley behind 5th St. near Roosevelt (photo source: Tony Arranaga)

[Source: LightRailBlogger.com] — I took my neighbors on a hour long bike tour of downtown Phoenix.  Mike and Jane were not too familiar with the backstory to some of the historic sights in our urban core, so it was fun to give them some background on the landmarks in the heart of the city.

We started in the Evans Churchill neighborhood near 4th Street and Fillmore.  We visited the community garden near Conspire Coffee and the murals in the alley behind 5th Street near Roosevelt in the arts district.  Mike, Jane and I then went to the Phoenix Public Market, the Westward Ho and Civic Space Park.  Our tour then continued south on 1st Avenue to see the Orpheum Lofts, 44 Monroe and the old City Hall.

Next. we made our way over to Hanny’s Restaurant, which used to be home to a high end department store back in the day.  We then stopped by St. Mary’s Basilica where Pope John Paul II visited several years ago.  Our trip ended at Heritage Square and then we stoppped for a bite to eat at Front Row – TGIFriday’s restaurant inside Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play ball.

How did I do?  Where would you take friends or out of town guests to explore the heart of Phoenix?  [Note: Read the full blog entry at Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike.]

City plans to cut free downtown Phoenix DASH bus route

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix plans to downsize the free Downtown Area Shuttle’s bus routes on July 26, but a downtown business group is lobbying prevent some of the cuts.   Because of city budget reductions, the DASH will lose its “downtown loop,” which stops at or near many key downtown cultural attractions, including the Phoenix Convention Center, Heritage Square, hotels, and the Orpheum Theatre.  The more heavily-used “government loop” will continue.  It links the county government campus and the state government complex, which lie farther west.

The change will save Phoenix’s Public Transit Department $317,000 annually in its $175 million bus operations budget.  “When we cut there is a method to the madness.  We want to affect the least amount of people,” transit spokeswoman Yvette Roeder said.  The government loop had 459,984 boardings in fiscal 2009, city figures show, while the downtown loop had 71,266 boardings. A boarding is a one-way trip made by one rider.

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership wants the city to save at least part of the downtown loop, said David Roderique president and CEO of the business group. The partnership, which contributes $18,000 annually to the DASH, plans to meet with transit officials in a few weeks to discuss options, Roderique said.   [Note: Read the full article at City plans to cut free downtown Phoenix DASH bus route.]

Viewpoint: Keep Phoenix’s Historic Preservation Program autonomous and strong

[Source: Arizona Preservation Foundation] — The Arizona Preservation Foundation Board of Directors urges the continuation of an autonomous, community-focused Historic Preservation Program for the City of Phoenix. Without such a strong program and city commitment to preservation, the landmarks pictured in the slide show above would have been demolished or severely compromised.

In addition, Phoenix’s 35 residential historic districts would NOT have historic preservation protection nor would be revitalized and active to the extent they are today. Without the stability of these urban neighborhoods, Phoenix’s central city revitalization would be severely deterred.

Phoenix voters would NOT have invested over $25 million in the city’s unique Historic Preservation Bond Program which has rehabilitated literally hundreds of historic buildings and sites in central Phoenix.

The nationally-acclaimed ethnic heritage surveys of Phoenix’s Asian, Black, and Latino communities would NOT have been completed.

When all is said and done, historic preservation is sustainable “green” development, and development without a historic preservation element is not sustainable.

Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition

Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition selects 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. After photos are taken, list will be released.

North, south improvements set for downtown Phoenix Civic Space Park

Civic Space Park looking north towards historic U.S. Post Office

[Source: Salvador Rodriguez, ASU Downtown Devil] — The city of Phoenix will break ground to expand the Civic Space north toward the U.S. Post Office in late April and will begin to renovate Central Station this summer, the project managers said Tuesday.  Tom Byrne, Civic Space expansion project manager, said the construction will add more trees and green space and will grow the park by nearly a half-acre.

Byrne also said the expansion will give the Civic Space another shade structure and area adjacent with the Federal Post Office’s truck dock that could potentially be used as a second stage.   Byrne said expansion should be complete sometime next fall and said the construction will be of “little impact to anybody using the building and/or the site.”

The city of Phoenix will use stimulus money to make Central Station more sustainable and convenient for passengers, said Mark Melnychenko, principal planner and project manager.   “That’s really the key, especially in our environment, to make (Central Station) a pleasant passenger area,” he said.

Melnychenko said the city will renovate the building at Central Station, use LED fixtures, add shade structures similar to the ones used for light rail stations, and will add a photovoltaic system to the building’s roof to power some of the station with solar energy. Melnychenko said the city chose to renovate Central Station but cause it is key to their public transportation system.  “It’s really a connecting point for transit for the central city,” he said.

The renovated Central Station will no longer include the historic display of past Phoenix buses located at its southwest corner, which will be moved off-site, Melnychenko said.   Also, Melnychenko said Central Station will match the Civic Space by adapting its color scheme and using a lot of similar plant life.  The project is expected to be complete in early 2011, Melnychenko said.  [Note: Read the full article at North, south improvements set for downtown Phoenix Civic Space Park.]

Phoenix residents urged to provide feedback on proposed public transit cuts

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The Phoenix Public Transit Department is soliciting public feedback on new budget cuts required because of actions taken to balance the state of Arizona budget.  The department will hold community outreach events in each of Phoenix’s eight council districts to get residents’ opinions of possible service reductions.  The public can also provide input online through an online survey or by sending an e-mail with the subject line “Budget Cuts Feedback.”

In the budget passed by the legislature in March, a sweep of the Local Transportation Assistance Funds (LTAF) cost the city of Phoenix approximately $11 million over the remainder of this fiscal year and next year, 2010-11.  These new reductions are in addition to service changes approved in the city budget adopted in March by the Phoenix City Council.  These new reductions could affect all city transit services, including local bus routes and RAPID routes, as well as Dial-a-Ride service.

Options for changes to service include elimination or service reduction of certain bus routes; reduction of Dial-a-Ride service to federally-mandated minimums; and partial reduction or complete elimination of the Phoenix Neighborhood Circulator program, a free transit service that travels through communities, and connects residents to schools, shops and other public services.  Public Transit Department staff will be asking for feedback from the public at the following events, and will also be available to answer questions.

  • Monday, April 12, 7:30 – 9:30 a.m., Paradise Valley Mall Transit Center, 4623 E. Paradise Village Parkway North
  • Monday, April 12, 4 – 6 p.m., Hope VI CTEC, 1150 S. Seventh Ave.
  • Monday, April 12, 5:30 – 7 p.m., Paradise Valley Community Center, 17402 N. 40th St.
  • Tuesday, April 13, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Cowden Center – John C. Lincoln Hospital, 9202 N. Second St.
  • Tuesday, April 13, 6 – 8 p.m., Desert Sky Mall (meeting room near Cinema Latina), 761 W. Thomas Road
  • Wednesday, April 14, 7:30 – 9:30 a.m., Central Station, Central Avenue and Van Buren Street

For more information, call Phoenix Public Transit at 602-262-7242, visit the city’s website, or send an e-mail.

Phoenix residents urged to complete U.S. Census form

[Source: City of Phoenix] — If you have not mailed back your census form, it’s not too late — just fill it out and mail it back.  If you didn’t receive a form, here’s the number to call: 1-866-872-6868.

Why?  The U.S. Constitution requires that the census — a count of everyone living in the United States — takes place every 10 years.  So it’s the law.  What’s more, filling out the brief, 10-question census form will guarantee the services you need.  For Phoenix residents, each person counted means $400 in federal and state funds for community services we all depend on:

  • Safe and clean parks
  • Neighborhood fire stations
  • Libraries with bilingual materials
  • Senior services
  • Head Start programs
  • Local bus service
  • And more

On average, every person counted in Arizona equals about $1,550 every year in funding.  Getting an accurate count in the census also:

  • Determines boundaries of Phoenix City Council districts
  • Draws state legislative districts
  • Allocates the number of Congressional seats for each state
  • Fairly distributes more than $400 billion annually in federal, state, city, and tribal funds to Phoenix residents based on an accurate population count

Couple take chance on 1928 warehouse in downtown Phoenix

R&R Surplus interior, Phoenix Warehouse District

[Source: Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic] — Steve and Andi Rosenstein have a photograph they like to keep close at hand.  The young couple in the photo, taken 23 years ago on a vacation in Jamaica, are standing atop a 30-foot-high bridge, about to leap into the chilly waters below.  The twosome seem to be equal parts excitement and nerves.  “We had no money, no kids, no marriage, but we knew we were a good team,” Andi says now, examining the snapshot.  “It was symbolic because we were jumping off at that point in our lives,” Steve says.  “It was symbolic of a change that we were making in our lives.”

That “change” was the couple’s decision to open a business.  The result: The clothing line Fitigues, a popular casual line of clothing that earned coverage on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and eventually grew into a national chain that the couple sold to Chico’s for just less than $10 million in 2006.

But the symbolism holds for the couple today.  The Rosensteins are in their 40s, the parents of two healthy boys, ages 12 and 16.  They live in Scottsdale’s posh D.C. Ranch neighborhood and spend summers at a waterfront home in Michigan.  But the couple are not content to sit back and reap the rewards of a job well done.  Instead, they’re embarking on an adventure that could change the face of downtown Phoenix.  And although some people may think they’re crazy, the two are firmly committed to making this leap.  “We believe in this project,” Andi says.  “This is not a hunger driven by a financial motivation.  This is driven by the passion to create something special.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit Couple take chance on 1928 warehouse in downtown Phoenix.]

This week on CenPhoTV (04-09-2010)

This week on CenPhoTV, movies in the park, art reception, a meeting, a bird day, kachina dolls, a world orchestra, a public lecture at ASU, some improv, and Dave with all the week’s best live music.

Artist creates downtown Phoenix First Friday mural, over and over again

Muralist Joe Pagac at work

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — For First Fridays on Roosevelt Row, getting noticed is practically a mantra.  Artists and advertisers take the idea to new heights.  Depending on the month, models wearing portable LCD screens advertising products mingle with the crowd.  Vehicles touting an energy drink drive loops around the festivities.  Groups of people in matching outfits hand out fliers and samples.

In November, promoter Charlie Levy, of Arizona’s Stateside Presents, tried a new tactic to garner attention: Levy hired Tucson-artist Joe Pagac to paint a mural on the western side of Eye Lounge, 419 E. Roosevelt St.  “What he’s doing is original artwork,” said Levy, who’s been staging concerts in the Phoenix area for 15 years, from bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to electronica/experimental/folk rock artist Dosh.  “A billboard costs multiple thousands of dollars.  Joe’s charging me a very friendly rate.  And he’s helping to add to the (First Friday) scene,” Levy said.

The monthly First Friday art walk showcases more than 100 venues in downtown Phoenix.  It’s packed with artists and vendors selling their canvases, jewelry, incense and CDs, in addition to musical performances, fire-breathers, break-dancers, grass-roots political activists, food stands, and people of all ages and sizes taking in the sights, sounds, and smells.  [Note: Read the full article at Artist creates downtown Phoenix First Friday mural, over and over again.]