The 2nd Annual Grand Avenue Festival will be held this Saturday, September 25, 2010! For those who missed last year’s events, it is a day full of art, music, fashion, and more that celebrates the vibrant culture of the Lower Grand Avenue arts & small business district.
A central part of the Festival are the morning’s Adaptive Reuse, aka Re-Dapt Tours. These special walking tours highlight some of the most interesting adaptive re-use projects on lower Grand Avenue.
Over the last 16 years new uses have been popping up in the Lower Grand Avenue district (from Van Buren to the 1-10 Freeway overpass) with many buildings reverting from industrial uses back to the original small retail and office uses that once lined this important connector to Wickenburg, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and points west. An influential factor in this renaissance has been the many innovative commercial adaptive re-use projects in the neighborhood: new owners have preserved parts of the existing vintage structures while making modern conversions that allow for more practicality in today’s world, including a myriad of hybrid uses.
Adaptive re-use of commercial buildings in older commercial districts is an important factor in creating true neighborhood sustainability. Many small, entrepreneurial businesses are attracted to the character these older structures lend to a neighborhood – and rents are usually more affordable than brand new construction can offer. The Re-Dapt Tours during the Grand Avenue Festival focus on celebrating the unique history of Grand Avenue, as well as the wonderful adaptive re-use projects in the neighborhood.
This year the Re-Dapt Tours will include La Luz Del Mundo Church, the Gonzalez Heating and Cooling buildings, The Oasis Motel and future home of The Grand Oasis multi-use project, the Rodriguez Boxing Gym corner, and the Grandevelt Complex, home to Kooky Krafts Shop, The Bikini Lounge, Sweets & Beats, and The Trunk Space. Click ‘more’ below for descriptions of these buildings.
Each tour is led by an expert Phoenix historian who will reveal the past uses of these unique buildings and the history of how Grand Avenue developed into a major transportation corridor to points west.
Tours will begin at 8:00 am, 9:00 am, and 10:00 am and last approximately two hours. Tours will start at the Rodriguez Boxing Gym at the corner of Roosevelt and 15th Ave. (map) All tours will include the same five buildings.
Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased in advance at Sapna Cafe, Paisley Violin Cafe, Kooky Krafts Shop, and Sweets & Beats, or online by clicking HERE. Tickets can also be purchased the morning of the festival starting at 7:30 am at Kooky Krafts Shop, 1500 W Grand Ave.
2010 Re-Dapt Tour Stops
The Shaughnessey buildings
1500-1508 Grand Avenue
This property, which originally encompassed the entire block, started out as an auto camp and tourist court in the early 1920’s. The small brick retail buildings were constructed starting in the late 1920’s (some of the original tin ceilings are still intact), and were occupied by a pharmacy, grocery, liquor store and cafe over the years. The Bikini Lounge was established at the 1502 address in 1953 and has operated continually at that site, and is the last authentic tiki bar remaining in the Valley. The block also now houses Kooky Krafts Shop, Sweets and Beats, and the Trunk Space. The red brick building around the corner on 15th Avenue was built in 1946 as Thomson Plumbing and Heating. It now houses an art studio, Weird Garden.
The Oasis Motel/Caravan Inn West
1501 Grand Avenue
This Motor Hotel was built in 1960 as the Caravan Inn West, and was one of many exotic, state of the art motor hotels along Grand Avenue and vicinity. By 1963 it had been appropriated by the gorgeous Bali Hi Motor Hotel which was next door to the north. In 1968, a group of doctors purchased it with the idea of converting it to the Casa Contenta Care Convalescence Home, which never actually opened. It became the Oasis Motor Hotel in 1971 and operated under that name though 1995, and was gradually transformed over the years from high class to seedy. When it was closed down in 1996 it had become a drug infested flop house. It is now slated for an interesting adaptive re-use project geared towards musicians and artists, by owner Tom Carmody and developers Tim Sprague and Feliciano Vera.
The Four Square Gospel Church (now La Luz del Mundo)
1206 N. Laurel Street
Built in 1939 out of adobe, the four Square congregation occupied the church for 50 years before it was purchased by the La Luz del Mundo (Light of the World Church) in 1991. The exterior of the church has distinctive buttresses and other defining architectural features.
Piggly Wiggly/Henry Company Market
1346 – 1350 Grand Avenue
Built in 1930 and occupied for 5 years as a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, one of 4 in the downtown area at that time, this building has remained a grocery market for much of its 80 years. It was purchased by Chinaman Henry Akee in the 1940’s and the market still carries his name. It now also houses Valley Pizza and Rodriguez Boxing Gym (which has been there for 30 years).
Economy De Luxe Auto Top/Gonzales Heating and Cooling
1543 – 1549 Grand Avenue
This warehouse building began as the home for the Economy De Luxe Auto Top operation, which also utilized the building next door for their painting facility. The curved wooden bow truss roof is in spectacularly good condition and now houses Gonzales Heating and Cooling, whose owner is a relative of the original owner of De Luxe.