Monthly Archives: January 2011
[Source: Susan Copeland, Special for the Arizona Republic, January 29, 2011]
Late last year, Don Brandt and David Roderique of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership wrote a My Turn column that seemed overly and predictably self-flattering (“It’s important to keep vibrant downtown Phoenix vision alive,” Viewpoints, Nov. 28).
How otherwise would anyone count Arizona Center and Collier Center’s retail component as design successes or point to the foreclosed Summit at Copper Square or practically empty 44 Monroe née condominium projects now apartments as recent development highlights?
It pays to remind the movers and shakers that those who forget their history, or worse, glamorize it, are doomed to repeat it.
Here’s a more realistic assessment.
Sports fans are a fickle beast. No great world city would count on any team to financially carry it. Though Chase Field and US Airways Center bring people downtown, they depend on the abilities of athletes to act herculean. Only Hercules can always have a winning season, and even the Suns’ Steve Nash is mortal.
The result is a cyclical accounting, reaping the few profitable months and anticipating the yawing chasm when the teams lose or finish their seasons. Even when the games are popular, fans are pushed to get back in their cars and follow the event-oriented traffic design straight out of the center city back to their suburban homes.
Yes, we have a true world-class, award-winning signature sculpture, “Her Secret Is Patience,” in the Downtown Civic Space, but it goes dark every night at 11 p.m.
Yes, we have a beautiful Metro light rail, but it took a groundswell of small-business support for extending later hours just on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Yes, we have a downtown Arizona State University, but the promise of a campus integrated into the downtown has reaped clustered buildings and asphalt lots insular of community engagement. There is little gain of nighttime street activity by ASU’s presence.
Meanwhile, our loss of a central city park — Patriots Square Park — is replaced by a suburban mall stylistically dating to the 20th century, and we just lost the best potential for a real vintage boutique hotel, the midcentury Sahara/Ramada, to give the city-owned Sheraton another parking facility.
With all the damage done, there are still hopeful signs, if only our city officials and civic leaders follow their own community vetted and charetted ideals.
The Urban Form Project; Arts, Culture, and Small Business District Overlay; and Adaptive Reuse Program are smarter moves for aspiring urban infill than another stab at a faux urban Entertainment District.
When the city actually listens to its citizens rather than check-marking the input box, great things happen, like the improved ASU Nursing School exterior or the forthcoming Washington Street Centennial Project.
The expensive real-estate development fallout from the Great Recession should help to reset speculation and create truly affordable rentals and live/work housing.
It remains to be seen if our civic leaders will finally get it, and not just acknowledge the contributions of arts, culture, and true street-level local business, but champion it to the level even with what was big, but teetered or failed.
Susan Copeland is the chair of the Downtown Voices Coalition. For more information, go online to http://www.downtownvoices.org
Save Phoenix’s gems with your business — before it’s too late
It was an easy decision. I wanted to go somewhere nice on my first day back in Phoenix, and Pasta Bar was the destination.
It’s one of those hot spots that every city has — the one with great food, maybe a little expensive, but is a must-try for anyone wanting to be considered a real local.
On the list of great Phoenix restaurants, Pasta Bar was way up there. It was a starter on the All-Star team, the kind of place you tell out-of-towners about so they’re impressed with your city. The quality of food was top notch — some of the best in downtown Phoenix — and the atmosphere was great.
Too bad it was never busy.
Which explains why the doors were locked and the lights were off when I got there. The sign outside said it was open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays, and it was only about 8 p.m.
The next day I heard from a friend that it was closed for good.
Thus began the stages of grief, starting with denial. There was no way Pasta Bar could have closed. It had a great location, close to the Downtown campus — less than a five-minute walk — and the food was delicious. It didn’t make sense.
After denial came the anger and guilt. Why had we, the Downtown campus, let Pasta Bar down? Everyone talks about how much they hate the dining hall and how Aramark’s convenience store prices are ridiculous, but no one wants to put in the effort of finding alternatives. This is why we can’t have nice things!
And it happened barely a month after Verde, a little north up First Street, closed just seven months after opening. That’s two places within leisurely walking distance of the campus. Both were the kind of restaurants that focused on the quality of their food more than anything else, but struggled to bring in the necessary clientele. Are we ignoring Phoenix’s best food for the expediency of the dining hall, the convenience store and the nearby Subway restaurants?
There are other stages of grief, but after a talk with urbanism expert Yuri Artibise I skipped to acceptance. Artibise reminded me of the sad truth that restaurants fail all the time. For a restaurant to close after two years — Pasta Bar was nearing its second birthday — is not surprising in a bad economy.
In fact, Artibise said, we probably have too many restaurants downtown for our relatively low population. And with the influx of 12 new restaurants in CityScape that have opened or are going to open this year, something had to give.
“There’s a big push for entertainment and a big push for restaurants,” Artibise said, “but you just can’t have dozens of restaurants downtown without all that many people. And then with CityScape opening up … you know, it’s tough.”
Plus, Pasta Bar was expensive. Only two entrees were less than $14 and even the appetizers cost as much as $12. When college students make up a large percentage of a restaurant’s business, things need to be affordable.
So it wasn’t all our fault. Pasta Bar was too expensive to be a regular stop for ASU students and too far from the sports arenas to benefit from game days.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do in the future. Maybe we do have too many restaurants, but we can never have too many good ones.
“What students can do,” Artibise said, “is save your job money, and don’t be restricted by where your meal card gets you.”
Even if Pasta Bar’s closing wasn’t our fault, there’s more we can do in the future. ASU students make up a significant portion of the downtown population, so if we enthusiastically endorse a business, it stays. But it does take enthusiasm. The choices ASU students make will be integral in defining downtown Phoenix as an up-and-coming area rather than one that struggles through the recession. If the city of Phoenix can invest hundreds of millions of dollars in this campus, we can invest $15 in a great bowl of pasta, at least every once in a while. On date night or when your parents come to town, take advantage of Phoenix’s unique restaurants.
So here’s the silver lining to the cloud of Pasta Bar’s closing. Because of Pasta Bar’s great location, we had two other delicious options nearby after finding it locked up: Sens Asian Tapas and Turf Irish Pub. There are other great restaurants that we can support. The city of Phoenix needs ASU to help keep its best businesses afloat.
Be an advocate. You don’t have to spend all that much, but when you do leave the dining hall, make sure the businesses you endorse are important to your community. When it comes to good food downtown, use it or lose it.
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Residence on the Rail
Every student needs a place to live — and come spring, it’s on everyone’s mind. Incoming freshman shop around with anxious parents for the perfectly cool apartment complex, while commuter students finally decide to make the move out of Mom and Dad’s. Others tire of the on-campus experience after a year or two of shared living with roommates, suitemates, hallmates and floormates. Eventually, privacy and freedom beckon in the form of (often cheaper) off-campus apartments.
For most students, living near the Metro Light Rail has serious appeal. Driving to and parking on campus gets expensive, and many students commute between multiple campuses. Light rail-adjacent apartments market themselves as such, drawing more and more residents with each dollar rise on the gas pump.
But not every place suits every student. Some are for the quiet and studious, while others are designed for the social, college experience. Here’s a look at the culture of some popular apartments on the rail near the ASU Tempe and Downtown campuses.
Alta Phoenix Lofts
Phone number: 602-374-7133
Light rail stop: Van Buren Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: fitness center, cyber cafe, clubhouse with billiard and poker tables, pool, art gallery, local business on property, acupuncturist, tattoo parlor, personal trainer
Price range: $960 – $3,500
Sitting catty-corner from the College of Nursing and Health Innovation building, Alta Phoenix Lofts boasts an urban style. Residents find themselves walking through halls with exposed copper pipes and duct work. Property manager Chiara Elie says the light rail is another way to give residents an urban experience.
“We go for the whole downtown vibe, participating in First Fridays and reminding residents the light rail is nearby,” she says, sitting in her pool-facing office.
Elie says not many students live at the Lofts because they are higher-priced than other apartment complexes in the area. She says she tries to hold at least two or three events per month so residents get what they pay for. She says the active student would appreciate living at the Lofts.
Modern decor inside the Alta Phoenix Lofts. Photo by Vivian Padilla.
“Our biggest appeal to students is we’re very close to the Downtown campus,” she says. “But we also have so much to offer in terms of amenities and activities.”
Nursing senior Barbie Frazier says she chose to live at Alta Phoenix Lofts after looking at The Met and Roosevelt Square. She says Alta won her over because she thought it was the best deal for what she paid for.
“The lofts were bigger than the other places I looked at and it has this really big balcony with a pretty view, which The Met and Roosevelt Square didn’t have,” Frazier says. “The balcony just makes it so much more open and I like having my own space outside.”
Frazier says one of the frustrating things about living at the Lofts is wasted space in the apartment, which makes cleaning difficult. She says she had to buy a stepstool to reach a lot of her cabinets and storage space.
Frazier says she thinks ASU students who are studious, but also social, would enjoy living at the Lofts.
“People here are pretty nice so I don’t think anyone would call the cops on you for having a party,” she says. “As a nursing student though, I have to be studious and I never hear anyone so it’s easy to study.”
Phone number: 602-258-6387
Light rail stop: Van Buren Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: pool, hot tub, fitness center, 800+ DVDs for free rental, Wi-Fi throughout the property
Pet friendly: Cats and caged animals only
Price range: $779 – $1,264
Rising only three stories high, The Met apartment complex is one people might miss, especially as it’s surrounded by buildings with 10-plus stories. The city has grown around it; journalism sophomore Liam Hausmann says he enjoys living there because it’s so close to the Downtown campus where he takes classes.
“I don’t live as close to the light rail as some other places, but it’s worth it to me to be able to walk back and forth to campus four times a day without it being a hassle,” Hausmann says.
The Met is often overlooked because of its smaller size. Photo by Diana Martinez.
Hausmann rents a two-bedroom two-bath with his roommate and says he gets the most use out of the Jacuzzi. However, he says he has a rocky relationship with management, though it doesn’t affect his enjoyment of his living experience.
“I got a message from [management] complaining to me about people parking in The Met guest parking spots and then leaving,” he says. “They blamed me and my roommate and my roommate had to go the office and basically say it’s not our job to watch the parking lot, regardless if the people doing it are people we know or not.”
Hausmann says while the facilities are very nice, management tends to treat students as if they aren’t full and responsible adults.
“If you take management not appreciating students out of the picture, the location, the amenities and stuff is all awesome,” he says. “It’s not really a hustle and bustle place, it’s really mellow and I think it’s good for students who work on campus.”
Assistant manager of The Met Kathy Kimminau says they don’t treat students any different than other residents but admits they do give them more noise complaints notifications if other residents are voicing complaints.
“The studious student would prefer to live here because we are strict about noise complaints,” she says. “We still want people to have fun and have people over and party, just not late at night. We’ve never evicted someone for too many noise complaints but we would if we had too.”
Kimminau says she thinks students would want to live at The Met because of the proximity to campus, as well as the availability of Wi-Fi.
“We’re also located right next to a lot of places to eat and entertainment, like the movie theater,” she says.
Roosevelt Square offers students and residents refined living within walking distance to the downtown campus and light rail station. Photo by Jessica Heigh.
Phone number: 602-258-7678
Light rail stop: Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue
Amenities: 24-hour gym, pool, on the bus line, dog-walking area, 24-hour sky terrace, local businesses on property, four restaurants, dry cleaner
Pet friendly: Yes, except for larger, aggressive breeds of dog
Price range: $563 – $1,500
Three separate buildings make up Roosevelt Square, its own small community where assistant manager Wes Carmichael says many residents have referred each other.
“We have a mixture of young professionals and students,” he says. “A lot of students move here after their first year or two on campus because it’s cheaper to live here than on campus.”
One of the three apartment complexes that make up Roosevelt Square. Photo by Jessica Heigh.
He says some reasons students might enjoy living at Roosevelt Square is the proximity to First Fridays, a monthly art walk, as well as plenty of local shops and eateries to walk to. He says they are also extremely pet friendly.
“We have almost as many pets as residents I think,” he says.
Sustainability and journalism senior Lexie Runge lives at Roosevelt Square with her dog Maverick and says she loves living so close to the light rail.
“I almost never drive anymore because I can walk to my journalism classes on the Downtown campus and take the light rail to my other ones on the Tempe campus,” she says.
Runge says she feels the complex is for students who are respectful but like the urban life.
“Most residents here really do respect each other,” she says. “It’s a lot of young people and young couples and everyone has this understanding that this isn’t for cranky older people and there’s no underclassmen who want to party constantly. I think it’s a place for people who have their priorities straight.”
Carmichael says if students are looking to rent in the fall, they should begin the process about 75 days in advance. He says the Phoenix Mercury are already inquiring about renting apartments there again. Last year the team leased 14 units, he says.
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See the original article for residences along the rail in Tempe.
[Source: Joe Peach, This Big City]
Cities across the world are starting to pay more attention to the role of the bicycle in creating sustainable urban environments. Encouraging cycling can reduce the strain on public transport provisions, minimise congestion and pollution, and improve the health of those on two wheels. However, if more people choose to cycle, new challenges will emerge in how we run our cities. If your commute to work is more than gentle exercise and the building you work in has no showers, personal hygiene throughout the day can be a problem. And if the city you live in doesn’t provide adequate parking facilities for cyclists, finding a secure location to store your bike for 8 hours can also be a challenge.
Whilst both these issues are simple to overcome, they are enough to deter some from adopting the bicycle as their main form of transport. With this in mind, Australian bicycle parking company Penny Farthings have created the Green Pod—a high quality facility for cyclists containing secure space to leave your bicycle, a changing room, lockers and a shower. Units can be customised depending on the needs of the area or venue they serve.
Penny Farthing’s Mark Rossiter says:
We see parking to be one of the major obstacles between cycling becoming a major transport mode. Recently some governments have started investing in large scale centralised cycle centers with capacity for 200+ cyclists. We believe small scale decentralised parking is better because is makes the facilites closer to users and improves point to point journey times (and they don’t build one car park in a centralized location- because it is inconvenient). With better infrastructure, such as the green pod, we hope to make cycling as a transport mode easy.
The Green Pod has also been created with environmental sustainability in mind, being powered by solar panels on the roof, containing LED lighting activated by motion sensors, grey water treatment units, and timed showers. It operates a self-cleaning system, meaning maintenance costs are reduced.
Howard Seftel has come out with a list of his top 10 downtown Phoenix restaurants:
Whether you’re looking to catch a bite before the game or destination dining, downtown Phoenix is flush with options these days. So hop on the light rail and take a ride to one of these restaurants.
Top 10 downtown Phoenix restaurants [AZ Central]
Howard’s top ten restaurants are:
- Nobuo at Teeter House nobuofukuda.com
- Pizzeria Bianco pizzeriabianco.com
- Sens Asian Tapas sensake.com
- Matt’s Big Breakfast mattsbigbreakfast.com
- The Breadfruit (and Rum Bar) thebreadfruit.com
- Thai Elephant thaielephantaz.com
- District American Kitchen (pictured) districtrestaurant.com
- Moira Sushi Bar moirasushi.com
- Viet Kitchen vietkitchenaz.com
- The Roosevelt Tavern
In December, we shared word that the Icehouse, a longtime downtown art gallery and performance space, is slated to close at the end of 2001.
This week, however, the New Times indicates that there may still be a chance to save it, with OUR help.
Can ceaseless Facebook posts save the Icehouse? In December, we reported that the Icehouse, a performance space and art gallery in downtown Phoenix, is slated to close at the end of the year. Now, the financially ailing venue is trying to drum up revenue by blasting Facebook friends with posts about renting the Icehouse for various events.
Last week, the Facebook page for Icehouse Phoenix was filled with posts like, “Rarely seen Recording Studio! Small 2nd-floor room ready for recording equipment. Ideal for commercial or musical use,” and “Tea Room-Available for small dinners or luncheons, art installations, or presentations.”
We tracked down Peter Conley, the fellow responsible for the Icehouse Phoenix Facebook page, who explained why he’s touting Icehouse rentals.
”If we can raise enough funds by the end of this year, the Icehouse will stay open,” he says. “We’re in the early stages of really pumping it, and I’m almost 50, so I’m not as savvy as I should be regarding social media and Twitter and Facebook. We have some younger volunteers who are helping with that.”
But Conley’s got the pitch down pat: “We have three main rooms and additional event areas. We’ve had so many events here. Moby and The Chemical Brothers played there, we had an event for peace there, and so many wonderful weddings. To lose the Icehouse would really be losing something special.”
Conley says the space is open to all types of rentals, including corporate events, and that social media has become another way to advertise the space’s availability. “We were probably too fluid and grass roots in the past,” Conley says. “And our pricing is probably coming down a bit. But I tell you, everybody who comes here is just awestruck by [the Icehouse].”
Research shows a link between music education and intelligence in kids and arts education as a whole is something that’s dying in schools with bigger classrooms and budget cuts.
Michael Christie, the Virginia G. Piper music director of the Phoenix Symphony, and Carolyn Eynon, president of Allegro, a volunteer group at the Phoenix Symphony, joined us to tell us why the arts are so important and what they’re doing to educate the community.
The Allegro volunteer group goes to schools to educate kids about what goes on behind the scenes at upcoming symphony events.
One upcoming event will benefit the Phoenix Symphony Education and Community Engagement programs, which Eynon says, influences more than 60,000 young lives each year.
The Symphony Stroll will take place Sunday, January 30th from 4 to 7pm in downtown Phoenix. It will feature three different jazz groups and artists at three different restaurants downtown, including The District, Hanny’s and Kincaid’s. Participants can stroll from restaurant to restaurant and enjoy complimentary appetizers and drinks at each, along with live music. Tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Phoenix Symphony’swebsite .
[Source: Phoenix Art Museum]
Walkabout is an exciting celebration of local traditions, national customs and global cultures that showcases the Museum’s international collection of art. Inside the Museum, visitors enjoy live performances by storytellers, artists and musicians that reflect the works on view. Outside, the Valley’s most diverse performers and restaurants present the sights, sounds and smells of several continents.
From hands-on, kid-friendly activities to samples of traditional dishes and a dazzling array of entertainers, Walkabout offers the whole family an amazing cultural experience!
January 30, Noon – 5pm
12 – 5pm “Ask me Docents” (South Wing Galleries), Ikebana of Arizona, Japanese flower arrangements (Asian Art Gallery), Food sampling from local ethnic restaurants (Sculpture Garden), Artist demonstrations (Wilde Plaza), Henna Tattoos (Sculpture Garden)
12pm Gamelan Orchestra presented by the MIM (Great Hall), Wild West Stick Ponies (Children’s Activity)
12:30pm Top Hats (Children’s Activity), The Art of Ikebana demonstration (Asian Art Gallery), Phoenix Theater actors bring portraits to life (European and American Art Galleries), Taiko drums, Japanese sanshin and guitar (Sculpture Garden)
1pm Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian rhythms with Bata Ire (Katz Main)
1:30pm Gamelan Orchestra presented by the MIM (Great Hall), Kawambe-Omowale African Drum and Dance Theatre (Sculpture Garden)
2pm Chinese Brush Painting (Hands-On Demonstration), Music for Royalty, Performance by the Four Seasons Orchestra (European Art Gallery), Phoenix Theater actors bring portraits to life (European and American Art Galleries)
2:30pm The Art of Ikebana demonstration (Asian Art Gallery), Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian rhythms with Bata Ire (Katz Main), Flamenco performance (Sculpture Garden)
3pm Fiddle and guitar performance by Peter Rolland (Western American Art Gallery)
3:30pm Music for Royalty, Performance by the Four Seasons Orchestra (European Art Gallery), Phoenix Theater actors bring portraits to life (European and American Art Galleries), Music of North India and Afghanistan (Sculpture Garden)
4pm Fiddle and guitar performance by Peter Rolland (Western American Art Gallery), Capoeira performance (Wilde Plaza)
4:15pm Poranguí & Zang, a fusion of African, Brazilian & Middle Eastern songs (Sculpture Garden)
All Walkabout performances and activities are included with Museum general admission, which is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens (65+), $8 for full-time college students with ID, $4 for children ages 6-17 and free for children under 6. Free for Museum Members.
[Source: City of Phoenix Public information Office, 602-262-7176
Monday, Jan. 24
Bus Service Changes go into effect
Check valleymetro.org or call Valley Metro Customer Service at 602-253-5000
Tuesday, Jan. 25
10. a.m. City Council Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee
Phoenix City Hall, 12th floor, City Council Subcommittee Room, 200 W. Washington St.,
Stephanie Ribodal Romero, 602-261-8512
2 p.m. Phoenix City Council Work Study Session
Phoenix City Hall, 12th Floor, City Council Subcommittee Room, 200 W. Washington St.,
Stephanie Ribodal Romero, 602-261-8512
5:30 – 7 p.m. College Depot Workshop
“Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Lab and Workshop,”
Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.,
Rita Marko, 602-534-2025
6 p.m. Alhambra Village Planning Committee
Washington Activity Center, 2240 W. Citrus Way,
Michael Hammett, 602-495-5405
Wednesday, Jan. 26
6 – 7 p.m. College Depot Workshop
“It’s Not Too Early to Plan for College: 7th and 8th Graders,”
Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.,
Rita Marko, 602-534-2025
The meetings listed here are accurate as of Friday, Jan. 21. For possible changes and additional city meetings, visit phoenix.gov/publicmeetings.
Seeing human brains is no longer reserved for doctors and coroners.
The famous Body Worlds exhibit is back at the Arizona Science Center, this time showcasing the brain and the effects that it has on the body.
The exhibit re-opened Friday at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, three years since its last showing in Arizona.
Created by Gunther von Hagens, the exhibit is called “Body Worlds and the Brain,” and gives the viewers a look into how the brain works with the body. The exhibit contains more than 200 body parts, body systems and preserved bodies, all of which are donations.
The bodies are transformed into plastinates through the process of plastination after the death of the donor.
Plastination is a method that stops the decomposition of a dead body. The process includes removing all of the fluids from a body about two to three days after the donor has died. The body is dipped into acetone and silicone to preserve the muscles and bodily systems inside, and is eventually cured with a heating process in its final posed position.
Each of the displays in the Body Worlds exhibit looks at the body from a different angle. Displays include a focus on the nervous system, the effects of smoking on the body and the stages of pregnancy.
“It’s a unique opportunity to enhance people’s understanding of themselves,” said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the Arizona Science Center.
The exhibit looks into ailments that affect the body, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Bodies in the exhibit are posed to show how different activities, like those of a ballerina or baseball player, can benefit the body’s muscles.
“I’m going into the medical field, so I liked it,” said Ally Zepada, a physical therapy junior from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif. Zepada visited Arizona to explore the possibility of transferring to ASU.
Everything in the exhibit comes from real human bodies that were donated to science for the cause. Forty bodies in the current exhibit are from Arizona donors.
More than 32 million people across the world have seen this exhibit, which continues to wow people who are curious about the human body.
“I think it’s really fascinating that people get to see the inner workings of the body,” elementary education sophomore Breanne Cunningham said. “It’s something most people don’t get to see unless they are involved in medicine.”
The exhibit will be at the Arizona Science Center until May 30. It will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $25 for adults, and $23 for college students with identification.
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