Monthly Archives: November 2010

Jerry Colangelo talks about downtown Phoenix

[Source /]

Jerry Colangelo, a former longtime member of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, was the guest last week on Live Talk. Here are excerpts from the interview, which can be found in its entirety at

Colangelo, a partner in JDM Partners LLC, has played a pivotal role in the growth of downtown Phoenix as a community leader and former owner of such sports franchises as the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is the national director of USA Basketball.

1. Why do we need a vibrant downtown Phoenix?

I think every city needs a heart to it. A place to congregate, to do business, to be entertained. It’s kind of the beat of a community.

I personally believe in a strong downtown – some of it’s instinctive; it’s just what you believe in. I’ve always looked at myself as an urban person more than a suburban. And I believe in building synergy. When looking at building the arena in downtown, we knew with the right mix you could, in fact, reconstruct and rebuild it and give it a new future. It takes a collaborative effort. It takes many of the same mind. Therefore, local organizations, like Phoenix Community Alliance, took that lead and created the Downtown Phoenix Partnership giving downtown another arm to help in that cause.

2. What one or two things would you like to see happen next with downtown?

Much has taken place and much is to be completed. I think we need more housing and more retail. When we get to the point when we have synergy, it will be because of some density. Then we’ll be closer to what some hope will become a very vibrant downtown.

3. What will it take to make these happen?

It’s a combination of things. It’s professional people willing to take the necessary steps in terms of development. Sometimes ahead of the curve. You know the old expression “if you build it they will come.” People or retail, retail or people? It’s a combination and timing. We need all of that to take place all at the same time. It’s an intersection.

I think entertainment is a missing piece. We have museums, culture, sports and arenas and theaters. But entertainment that invites you in from the street to listen to music, enjoy a great meal, great shops all add to an appeal for people. For certain there’s an urbanization of America taking place. People are moving in to downtowns. So we need to add this to get people to move to our downtown.

4. The race for mayor of Phoenix is starting to get under way. What do the candidates need to know about downtown – and do?

Every candidate, councilmember and any mayor should understand that they have the ownership of Downtown Phoenix. And particularly for council members, regardless of what district they have, they should own a piece in it and understand that investment in downtown is critical to the success of the entire city and region.

The next mayor need only to look out the window of City Hall and see what’s happened in the last 15 years and be able to project what can happen. They need to be part of the effort to make sure it does and that includes the expansion of the ASU campus, the TGEN campus, and the projects on the drawing board at the Biosciences campus, and others with interest in coming downtown.

We need to encourage people to look at all that downtown has to offer. The light rail, expanded Convention Center, the ASU campus have all been major add ons in the last few years. And so I believe had the economy not turned south, we would have been even much further along. But as hard as it’s been, I think downtown is destined for a very bright future.

5. As a long-time champion of downtown Phoenix, what is your fondest memory of so many years spent working downtown?

I have so many great memories of being with people of the same mind, watching things take place. I remember the first event at the arena and watching people walking down the streets. Many of the naysayers said it would never happen. That was a big moment.

Also the opening of Diamondbacks season in 1998 with the arena and the ballpark hosting a sellout crowd was special as well. The arrival of Major League Baseball was another stepping stone of a city thriving.

6. Why should the rest of the Valley care about a strong downtown Phoenix?

Because all of the communities within a marketplace should not think of themselves as standalones. A vibrant downtown brings communities together. It’s one thing to have your own identity of a community in the suburbs, but there’s nothing like being asked “where are things happening?” It should be in the downtown.

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Historical Downtown Phoenix freight depot gets new life


Once a hub of commerce, a long-empty 1929 railway building in Phoenix is switching to a new track as county offices 

Photograph: Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

A historical rail depot that once was a thriving hub of Phoenix commerce is getting a top-to-bottom fix-up and a second chance at life as county offices.

Maricopa County is spending nearly $4 million to restore and renovate the Santa Fe Freight Depot at Fifth Avenue and Jackson Street for use by the Assessor’s Office. The county already owned the building, but it had become a dusty graveyard for broken chairs, old tables, copier parts and other county castoffs.

“That’s what happens when you have an empty space in a big city,” said Jim Brignall, president of Brignall Construction Co. of Phoenix, the contractor doing the renovation. “People find it and utilize it for their own uses. But it will be a nice corner. It will remind people of what it was.”

The depot opened in 1929 and for years was a key shipment point for goods moving to and from Phoenix by railroad. Merchandise headed for department stores was collected there. A tunnel connected the depot to the ice-storage building nearby so the big blocks of ice that kept food fresh could be shuttled between buildings. The tunnel is still there and was used in the renovation to route a sewer line.

The assessor is closing four outlying offices around the Valley and will consolidate them in the renovated depot, scheduled to open in April. The county says it will save $700,000 to $800,000 a year in lease money it pays on the satellite offices without having to lay off the people who work in them. Sixty to 70 of the assessor’s more than 320 employees will be based at the depot. One of the satellites will be converted for use by another county department.

“We need every one of those positions,” Assessor Keith Russell said. “This is one-time money to fix this as opposed to annual money that gets spent every year, year in and year out, on those rents. In these tough economic times that’s always a big plus, to be able to put some money towards people as opposed to buildings.”

The depot has been vacant since the mid-’60s. Dick Carr, the depot project manager for the county, said the county has owned the depot for about 10 years. The 15,000-square-foot depot was scheduled for demolition in the early 2000s as part of a county construction project but was spared when preservationists objected. A parking garage sits just a few feet south of the depot.

The building is made of poured concrete reinforced with steel, making for what Carr said it is a very sturdy structure. A layer of asbestos was dug out of the floor, and lead paint and lead-encased wiring were removed.

“It was an environmental disaster zone,” Carr said.

The building’s exterior is on Phoenix’s historical register and will be restored to its original look. Roll-up loading doors will be replaced with windows. The wood bumpers attached to the building, gouged by truck bumpers and brittle from decades of weather, will be replaced. The Santa Fe logos will remain. The renovated depot also will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building standards.

The depot will house the assessor’s geographic information systems, fees processing, exemptions and residential property-valuation appeals. Even though the interior will be new, the railroad theme will be echoed. The county says it will borrow railroad artifacts, such things as old maps and railway guides from the Arizona Railway Museum, duplicate them and display them inside.

Patte Thornton, the project’s architect, described the depot as an industrial building with Art Deco touches. Thornton, of Arrington Watkins Architects of Phoenix, said the building’s original drawings are being used to guide the work.

She said one of the biggest jobs will be restoring the concrete face of the building’s east side.

“That building’s been abused,” she said. “Nobody ever considered re-use of it.”

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Sustainability Forum at Downtown Phoenix’s Convention Center this Thursday

The Phoenix Convention Center invites you to join then at their Annual Sustainability Forum between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.

  • Meet and network with local businesses, professionals and industry experts Learn how to implement sustainable practices at your business or home
  • Visit exhibitor booths

This event is free and open to the public!

Discussion topics and exhibits include:

  • Why Local Matters – Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona
  • Green Careers – Dr. George Brooks, Southwest Green Magazine; Phil McNeely, City of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs; Mark Wilhelm, Green Ideas; Eric Frei, Waxie
  • Power of the Virtuous Cycle: Closing the Loop on Food Waste – Miguel Jardine, Vermisoxx
  • Green Lifestyles – Terry Gellenbeck, City of Phoenix Public Works, Steve Priebe, City of Phoenix Street Transportation, Tishin Donkersley, AZ Green Living Magazine
  • Holiday Menu – Jesus Cibrian, Executive Chef of Aventura Cartering


Sustainability Forum at the Phoenix Convention Center
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
West Building Arcade 100 N. Third Street

For more information call Michael Campos at (602) 534-6451

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Outdoor Ice Rink in Downtown Phoenix

[Source: KPHO ]


The latest addition to the newly opened CityScape in downtown Phoenix is an ice skating rink. The rink will join a holiday tree and vivid displays of holiday lights and ornaments.

The cost to skate is $10 and skaters can either bring their own skates or rent them.

The ice rink will be operated by American Skating Entertainment Centers, the largest independent operator of ice rink facilities in the United States – including Seasonal outdoor rinks in Los Angeles, Denver, Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C.

The rink opened Saturday and will operate through Jan. 15.

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December College Depot Workshops for Students and Parents

[Source: City of Phoenix]

College Depot, located on the second floor of Burton Barr Central Library at 1221 N. Central Ave., will host four free workshops in English and Spanish in December.

  • Understanding Financial Aid
    Thursday, Dec. 2, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
    Learn about grants, work study, loans and scholarships.
  • No Parent Left Behind: Helping Your Students Through the College Planning Process
    Tuesday, Dec. 7, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
    Survival for you and help for your students during this transition.
  • How to Pay for College (in Spanish)
    Saturday, Dec. 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
    Figure out how to pay for college by exploring financial aid and scholarships.
  • Organizational Skills to Get You Through College
    Tuesday, Dec. 14, 5:00-6:15 p.m.
    Learn about goal setting, time management, study skills and note taking.

Space is limited. To register or for more information, call 602-261-8847 or e-mail

College Depot is a full-service college planning center that offers free one-on-one assistance, family consultation and workshops on all aspects of the college planning process, from financial aid to career exploration. The service is open to anyone seeking assistance with planning for college.

For a complete list of workshops and events, visit

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Free Workshops on Understanding Your State Legislature

While this is not directly related to (or occurring in) downtown Phoenix, it is a great opportunity to get a handle on how things work at the Capitol. Also, what happens at the Capitol can have a direct impact on downtown’s vitality, so it is important for all residents to understand how it works.

[Source: City of Phoenix]

Two free workshops on Understanding Your State Legislature will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Goelet A.C. Beuf Senior Center, 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Road (map), and from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Devonshire Senior Center, 2802 E. Devonshire Ave (map).

The workshops, presented by the city of Phoenix Office of Government Relations, will offer an overview of the state legislative process and how to become involved in decisions made at the state legislature. Tips also will be presented on effective lobbying techniques and information on how to use technology to track legislation.

Two state lawmakers will be invited to attend the sessions to offer their advice on how to effectively communicate with legislators and how the decisions they make impact your neighborhood.

The free workshops are offered to help demystify the legislative process and encourage public involvement from neighborhood groups and residents to create public policy. Seating is limited. To register for one of the workshops, call 602-256-4257 or visit

Media Contact:

Marcie Colpas 602-262-6164
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Downtown Phoenix ASU Building Wins Design Award and Achieves LEED Gold

The Downtown Voices Coalition provided input into final design to improve the building’s shading and create a more open looking building.

[Source: City of Phoenix]

The city-owned Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation Phase II building (NHI2) recently won the Design-Build Institute of America‘s (DBIA) National Design-Build Award for an Education facility over $25 million, and was one of two buildings, out of hundreds of entries nationwide, to be nominated for the Best Overall Award. In addition, NHI2 has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design New Construction (LEED®-NC) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council, making it one of just a few LEED®-NC Gold certified buildings in Phoenix.

To be considered for the prestigious DBIA National Design-Build Awards, projects must demonstrate successful application of design-build principles, including collaboration in the early stages of the project and the acceptance of single-entity risk. The project must be completed on time, on budget and without litigation. Winning projects are honored for advanced and innovative application of total Integrated Project Delivery and finding unique solutions to project challenges.

The sustainable LEED®-NC Gold certified building features solar water heating, which harvests Arizona’s abundant renewable energy while reducing the building’s carbon footprint. More than three-quarters of construction waste (967 tons) was diverted from conventional landfills, materials used for the project contained recycled content and 70 percent of all wood products were certified by the Forest Stewardship.

The five-story, 84,000-square-foot, copper-clad urban building, located in downtown Phoenix, creates shade and adds architectural character to an evolving downtown core. It features classrooms, office and administrative space, a 240-seat conference center and a 60-seat computer classroom laboratory.

The NHI2 is part of a collection of seven buildings that thread together a cohesive and identifiable campus environment and is home to one of the largest and most innovative nursing programs in the U.S. The design-build team consisted of DPR Construction and SmithGroup architects.

Media Contacts:

Sina Matthes, City of Phoenix
Terry Olbrysh, Arizona State University
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DVC Minutes for October 9, 2010

Meeting held at Roosevelt Commons, 825 N. 6th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003

Attending: Tim Sprague, Louisa Stark, Matt Tomb, Elise Griffin, Beatrice Moore, Steve Weiss, Reid Butler, Emily Gersema, Tim Eigo, Suad Mahmuljin, Karla Grijalva, Eva O. Olivas, Sean Sweat, Tim Eigo

9:40 AM: Introductions and approval of minutes

Motion to approve Reid Butler, Second Tim Eigo, voice vote carried unanimously.


State Budget 2 billion in overage, borrowed so much bond rating down. Sold state buildings for lease back, education and health care cuts imminent.

State already has high state sales tax rate, with 51-53 % of state revenue as sales tax.

Solution for fiscal soundness-10 billion dollars on books as exemptions-if medical/health care exemptions removed from discussion, still 3 billion left in exemptions(examples-country club memberships, 4” gas pipe used for home construction, horse/dog racing) No stomach from state legislature to increase property taxes.

Reform of tax code key-revenue neutral-lower sales tax from 6% to 4%.

Best way to solve problem-close exemptions, tax services(big push-back). Otherwise when temporary 3 year tax increase expires, state will fall off cliff financially.

Discussion: promote and advertise that exemptions exist. Broaden base, spread burden around

2012-ballot initiative-equity in tax codes,but hope is that it should be discussed in legislature before doing it through ballot.


Master Plan discussion in progress for Hance Park, Karen Williams from City of Phoenix in charge.

January 27, 2011-get Master Plan approved from Parks Board

Group working to create Conservancy-long-term commitment looks for additional revenue from park. “How do you bring in $20,000./month?”

Performing Arts Center under-utilized/Make Hance Park gathering place

Block out workshop with DVC – discussion Hance Park-invite ASU Downtown and Karen Williams


Long-range planning light rail to West Valley

Alignments Jefferson through St. Matthews-Metro and City postponed decision-pushback from community.

Best idea-use 19th Avenue

Tim Sprague-current route gives least economic development opportunities

Reid Butler-Working group preferred Adams versus Jefferson

19th Ave-from I-10 costs more but better economic development

New discussion-N edge I-10 versus middle of I-10

Need real discussion meeting with community-not show and tell


Steve Weiss-should I stay in this group even if it’s seems a joke and a time-waster?

DVC – Yes, because it’s good to know what’s going on.


Tim Eigo, second Steve Weiss


11:32 AM: CVS  McDowell/Central applying for liquor license

DVC to send letter of disapproval(note that letter ended up sent to Phoenix Councilman Nowakowski…liquor clerk said we were out of area for consideration based on physical address DVC, can’t use PO Box)


Louisa Stack, So Moved


Ben Bethel’s Suggestions for Downtown Phoenix

[Source: Downton Phoenix Journal]

NOTE: DVC is posting this for information purposes only to ensure it gets to a wide an audience as possible. If you have a suggestion or would like to leave a comment, please do it HERE.

Ben Bethel, owner and GM of the Clarendon Hotel, recently offered up the below suggestions to elevate Downtown Phoenix to the next level. Mind you, these are simply Ben’s thoughts and ideas, but it made us wonder what our neighbors and Downtown visitors think about accelerating these ideas into reality. Voice your opinions in the comments section, and let us know what else is needed to affect change in Downtown Phoenix.


Photo: Peter O'Dowd. (

Streetlamps to immediately define the neighborhood, let’s get some funds together and purchase streetlamps for the high-traffic areas: Roosevelt Street from 7th Avenue to 7th Street, then extend to 15th Avenue to 16th Street, as well as 7th Avenue and 7th Street from Roosevelt to McDowell. If you check sites like and buy direct from manufacturers, the solar-powered LED streetlamps range from $200-$1,200 each — there are no trenches to dig or streets to rip up, they don’t need wiring, the bulbs last 20 years and need no maintenance, and once installed you can pull the copper from the old streetlamps and sell it and pay for a nice portion of this project.

Here’s a link to the streetlamps — there are literally thousands to choose from.

When will the farmers market move to 1st Street from Hance Park to Fillmore, or at least Roosevelt to Fillmore to start? The current parking lot is a lawsuit waiting to happen — I see people tripping over parking blocks, potholes and uneven pavement while also nearly strangling themselves on low-hanging tarps that are literally as short as me — 5’8″. One small spark and you could have people screaming in pain while turning into plastic army men.

The current lot could be used for parking for the market, while the street could space the booths further apart — and when booths are separated by about two booths’ worth of dead space, sales for merchants can be 300-500% higher, as people can capture someone and spend time with them. The more time spent with someone before they move on to another booth, the greater chance they will buy something. The higher sales bring in more merchants and better quality ones at that.

I know 1st Street has some improvements coming, but make sure that power is one of them… then you can also have stages set up on the north or south sides of Roosevelt, and the north side of Fillmore as focal points for the market. Newsstand or larger booths (as you would see in Europe or Washington, D.C., or NY or other cities) could become permanent fixtures, ready to open in minutes without all of the set-up and tear-down. This would also help support foot traffic to the businesses along 1st Street and increase sales. The market could become a Saturday and Sunday fixture Downtown.

Once the market is taken care of — or at the same time — change First Fridays to an every Friday event. Hey, the stages are there, the booths are there, you’ll have plenty of space for entertainers — be it street performers or BMX stunt bikes or whatever. The vendors would be different than the farmers market; this is adaptive reuse at its finest. Once Fridays takes off, expand to Saturdays, but with a more adult focus on the music stages.

After these take off, get vendors to come in from Monday to Thursdays — make this the hip, stylish, fun, funky, unique street flea market that all cities die to have — art, jewelry, clothing, furnishings, food, flowers/plants, etc. This is the stuff that makes Florence/Rome/London/Paris/Madrid/NYC amazing cities to live in. This could draw more conventions to town, more hotel rooms, more visitors, more tax revenues.

This would make Phoenix interesting. This would make us stand out. This would give people something to do. This would span two Metro stations — get off at Van Buren, walk the market, get back on at Roosevelt after having lunch/dinner in the area. This would define neighborhoods. This would put us on the map. And it would be cheaper than setting up a single First Friday — after all, First Friday has to be set up then broken down. Here, you’d just be setting up.

PS: While we’re at it, how can I get involved in building a few 500-unit apartment buildings Downtown? We need residents, especially if we don’t want to see CityScape repeat the history of Park Central, Mercado, Arizona Center and Collier Center. Without residents there can’t be life after 5 p.m. Here’s what I think we could do, albeit with a bit more style: Build five 500-unit projects in a very short time frame — I don’t think we’d be able to build them in six days, but here’s proof that it’s possible.

Thanks for listening to my rants/ideas; the opportunity is there, the execution of the ideas for 1st Street is easy and couldn’t make more sense. This could start January 1, and everyone would look great for doing it. Start it as a six-month trial, see how it goes and see if there’s demand. If the demand is high, invest in shade structures and outdoor cooling systems and keep it year-round.

What do you think?  Remember to leave your comments HERE!

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Phoenix’s Iconic Encanto Park Celebrating 75th Anniversary

[Source: City of Phoenix]


The kiddie train passes by at Encanto Park

Flickr photograph by Scott Jones (rscottjones)

Phoenix’s Encanto Park, recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the nation’s 12 best city parks, will be celebrating its 75th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. The daylong celebration will feature live music, kids’ activities, food and a spectacular fireworks display at 7 p.m.


Encanto Park lovers also can support it at a fundraising reception at the park’s Clubhouse sponsored by Friends of Encanto Park. The reception features food from local restaurants and live music and performances. Ticket prices for the reception are $50 in advance or $75 at the door. Comprehensive event information is available online at

Encanto Park’s 65 acres, located in the heart of central Phoenix, boasts dozens of massive trees of numerous species. The 27 holes of the adjacent Encanto Golf Course, along with the park, offers residents more than 200 total acres of green space right in Phoenix’s urban core. Its fishing lagoons attract thousands of anglers each year. Visitors can rent paddle boats to set out on the park’s waterways.

The park also features a sports complex with lighted basketball, handball, volleyball, tennis and racquetball courts; lighted picnic areas and grills; an exercise course; a playground; a pool; a recreation building; and restrooms.  It is also is home to Enchanted Island Amusement Park, with a host of rides for children ages 2 to 10 years old.

Encanto Park was built between 1935 and 1938 in what was then the northern part of the city. It has provided outdoor recreation for generations of Phoenicians from throughout the city.  The land was purchased, designed and built jointly by the federal Works Progress Administration and the city of Phoenix. For several decades in and around the 1950s, a band shell at the park hosted concerts and cultural events that would attract thousands of spectators. The park also hosted fishing derbies at its signature lagoon that attracted hundreds of area youth. Phoenix voters approved numerous bond issues over the years to expand and improve the park.*

In addition to the website, information on the park is available by calling 602-261-8991.


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