Monthly Archives: April 2011
[Source: Claire Lawton, PNT’s Jackalope Ranch]
In late May, you might spot a few painted, logo-plastered cactus statues in popular spots around Downtown.
Major League Baseball representatives say 10, 7-foot-tall, 700-pound statues will be placed in Phoenix as part of the celebrations for the All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12.
Think Cow Parade (the international public art campaign with artist-painted cows in various cities) but less arty, and more corporate.
The statues, designed by licensee Forever Collectibles, will feature logos and graphics of each of the 30 MLB teams and important moments in Arizona Diamondback history. (Quick note to MLB: probably better not to use “erected across downtown Phoenix” when talking about cactus art.)
ASU Downtown is run by helicopter parents. They are friendly parents, but they are still helicopter parents. They are the cautious, closed-minded parents that refuse to encourage their children to play with the neighbor kids. They plug in the video game and think their children will be satisfied.
The “It’s Time” video released by ASU earlier this month highlights the university as rejuvenating downtown Phoenix, but the campus administration is doing very little to actually realize that. They are failing to intertwine the Downtown campus with the downtown community. Yes, there are 10,000 students that were not here four years ago, but beyond our bodily presence, we are doing very little for the neighborhood.
It’s time for a change in the mindset and direction of the Downtown administration.
College towns around the country are centered on partnerships between universities and local shops, eateries and entertainment. Downtown ASU has not built these partnerships — at all.
ASU signed a massive contract in 2008 with food provider Aramark that lasts until 2023. It ties the hands of students by forcing them to buy ridiculously priced meal plans. ASU created a food monopoly.
In turn, the administration says it is completely unfair to blame ASU’s policies for the closure of eateries like PastaBar and Verde, both within two blocks of campus. But what did the university do to support their businesses?
The university created an isolated campus. We are sheltered, and it’s time ASU puts resources and time into connecting students with the arts district on Roosevelt and the festivals and activities held on Grand Avenue. We can have all the events and celebrations we want in the shade garden of Taylor Place, but when are we actually going to take a step off of the curb and be a key part of downtown life?
Then again, increasing the cost of the U-Pass to $150 from $80 is the incentive we were looking for, right?
Plans are under way to turn the historic U.S. Federal Post Office building into Downtown’s version of the Memorial Union. One of the ideas brought to the table by an administrator is to make the building only accessible to ASU students. It would be a shame to close out the public to one of the only remaining historic buildings left in Phoenix. That’s not community engagement. We should cherish the uniqueness of our area.
The university is also currently planning out the construction of a downtown student recreational facility. I hope this facility is built in partnership with the YMCA. It baffles me why we would invest in a recreational facility when we already have a stellar setup at the YMCA. Both ASU and the YMCA benefit from each other’s presence.
And where was ASU in denouncing the parking lot built at the site of the old Ramada Inn? ASU allowed the city to build another parking lot that is destructive to the urban environment of our campus.
To counter the new block of hot asphalt, we proposed working with ASU and the city of Phoenix to construct a dog park where the McKinley parking lot is currently located. ASU was not willing to take the extra step in bettering our community. Excuses were made. It was easier to say no. The land has to be used for “educational purposes” because bond money was used to purchase the land. I’m glad that a parking lot meets the university’s standards of an educational purpose.
ASU recently sent a mailer to its alums. With a large picture of downtown in the background, bold white letters read: “With urban temperatures 11 degrees higher than in surrounding areas … how do we design cities that stay naturally cool?” It is a great question, ASU. Unless my knowledge of science is off, I don’t think parking lots are naturally cooling.
Are these advertisements reflecting reality? I am one of the most outspoken supporters of the great attributes of this campus, but there is so much more to be done.
Students need to take responsibility as well. While we bicker about elections and tuition or wave our pom-poms on Taylor Mall, we need to rise above and do our part.
The downtown community is intriguing. This fall, I hope the helicopter ASU administrators begin encouraging their kids to go out and play ball with the neighbors. They are waiting.
Vaughn Hillyard is a journalism sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School and the founder and president of ASU Downtown Alive!
[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
The new Oakville Grocery store at the CityScape development in downtown Phoenix is hosting a job fair in preparation of its spring opening.
The job fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, April 25, at the store, 50 W. Jefferson St., Suite. 100.
The store is looking for cooks, bakery and deli workers, stockers, baristas and bartenders. Store officials say they expect to hire about 45 full- and part-time workers.
[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]
Phoenix officials have crossed off the landmark Circles Discs & Tapes building from the list of possible new headquarters for the Arizona Opera because the building’s owners have failed to respond to the city’s requests for further testing on the site.
The downtown midcentury-design building, easily recognizable with its large curved windows, sits on a property that has underground tanks that probably stored fuel when the property was a car dealership, said Jane Morris, acting executive assistant to City Manager David Cavazos.
“When we did the environmental study, no one knew that there were tanks there,” Morris said. During a site visit in January, “we saw a vendor pumping stuff out of the tanks.”
She said city staff asked to do environmental testing on the tanks after seeing that. But the property owners, Leonard and Angela Singer, have not responded to the city’s request, prompting the city staff to search for another possible site for the opera’s offices.
The Singers could not be reached for comment.
“It is not known at this time if the Circles building could be back as an option,” Morris said.
The city has been trying to help the Arizona Opera staff find a new headquarters since 2006, when officials had promised the non-profit opera company the city would pay up to $3.2 million in voter-approved bonds to buy, renovate and lease a building to the opera.
Arizona Opera’s current offices are at 4600 N. 12th St. in Phoenix and 350 N. Mountain Ave. in Tucson.
Organization leaders have said they want to save money by consolidating the offices to operate in one location.
Circles Discs & Tapes history
• 1947: The midcentury-design building was constructed. Designed by architect W.Z. Smith, the building housed Stewart Motor Co. The car dealership was owned and operated by businessmen and brothers Jack and Spencer Stewart. The men sold Studebakers. Passers-by could always see one spinning slowly on a turntable.
• 1972: Angela and Leonard Singer bought the building and opened Circles Discs & Tapes. The store became a hot spot for music lovers.
• 2005: The Singers considered but then rejected applying for historic status to preserve the building. The Phoenix Historic Preservation Office worked out an agreement with the Singers: The city would create a historic-preservation-overlay zone for the property on condition that the Singers would give the city the first right to buy the property if it was put on the market.
• 2010: The Singers closed the store. Internet music purchases had surged, bumping record stores such as Circles out of business.
Source: Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, Arizona Republic archives
[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal]
The former headquarters of Freeport McMoRan Gold & Copper Inc., the One North Central tower in downtown Phoenix, will be filled by PhoenixLaw, also known as the Phoenix School of Law.
The college will take eight floors of the 20-story tower or 205,130 square feet. The school is moving from its current location at 4041 N. Central Ave.
“It’s an interesting use that will be a great benefit to downtown,” said Phil Breidenbach, senior vice president of Colliers International in Phoenix.
Breidenbach represented the landlord, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Estate New York, along with team members Peter Neiman andLindsey Carlson.
Breidenbach said the move, which is expected by the fall, will bring “a bunch of students,” to downtown, but he could not give specifics.
The Phoenix Business Journal put in a call to PhoenixLaw President Scott Thompson, but he was traveling and unavailable for comment.
Freeport McMoRan, which moved to Central Park East at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren Street last year, still had an active lease on its space at 1 North Central Ave. Breidenbach said Colliers didn’t intend to market the property until that lease expired.
“But we were approached by a lot of people in the marketplace,” he said.
The overture by PhoenixLaw appealed to the landlord and negotiations commenced.
Breidenbach said he expects tenant improvements to be extensive.
“They’ll transform corporate headquarters into education facilities. That will be significant,” he said.
Breidenbach could not say how much those will cost.
“It’s all in process right now,” he said. “There’s a host of activity going on
The official Phoenix celebration of Earth Day will be held on Thursday, April 21 in Cesar Chavez Plaza from 11-2. The City of Phoenix Sustainability HUB will showcase most of the city’s sustainable programs in one location near Jefferson Street.
Within the 100 other booths you’ll find reusable grocery bags, Sun Chips (in the newly reformulated environmental bag), samples from Coke and Nestle Water as well as hot-dogs provided by Republic Services.
Come by and learn more about what YOU can do for the environment in your every day life.
What: Earth Day Phoenix 2011
Date: Thursday, April 21
Time: 11 AM to 2 PM
Location: Cesar Chavez Plaza (2nd Ave between Jefferson & Washington)
Who: Everyone welcome
[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]
Many visitors to downtown Phoenix rarely step south of the railroad tracks.
But near the backsides of US Airways Center and Chase Field, visitors who do venture there will find streets lined with old brick and brownstone warehouses.
Several of these centenarian structures are vacant and decaying, their walls coated with the grime of neglect and age. A few have been preserved and reopened, such as the Duce restaurant, bar and clothing store near Central Avenue and Lincoln Street.
A Phoenix man obsessed with history, Michael Levine, 41, is determined to save the properties. He bought and preserved the fruit-company building that the Duce occupies.
Now, he is devoting a few weeks to restoring the original facade of the old Phoenix Feed & Seed Co. warehouse near Jackson and Second streets.
Levine said he hopes the building will get more recognition when Arizona celebrates its centennial next year. He is finishing his first phase of renewal for the building, which was constructed sometime around 1900-05.
A full preservation effort will cost about $2 million, which he cannot afford on his own.
Last week, Levine was seen standing on top of a lift, aiming the long nozzle of a pressure washer to blast each brick with 250-degree water at 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch. Grime and crusts of old paint streamed down the building’s face into puddles on the old seed store’s dock.
Each blast exposed more of the building’s history. Signs had been painted and repainted over each other.
“Phoenix Feed & Seed” of the early 1900s became, in the 1940s, “Arizona Paperbox Company,” where workers manufactured the lightweight paper boxes that bakeries used for packing doughnuts, turnovers and other pastries.
“This building predates the railroad in Phoenix,” Levine said, recalling that the first tracks in Phoenix were laid around 1926.
Levine, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., got the building listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2004, a year after he bought it. He has scoured old newspaper articles and photos to piece together details of its former owners, tenants and uses.
The building was sold in the 1940s to Monty Mansfield, a Tucson businessman who spearheaded an airport authority in Tucson.
Although Levine often looks back, he also looks ahead.
He said this building will go through another personality change. Within the next year, Levine wants it to become the home of a farmers market, flanked perhaps by a cafe or other eatery. He already has cleared an initial hurdle: Last week, he received approval from a Phoenix Zoning Adjustment hearing officer for the market.
[Source: Lynn Ducey, Phoenix Business Journal]
The first sign in downtown Phoenix’s new Legends Entertainment District went up quietly this past weekend.
Judd Norris, the district’s general manager, said the sign was a test-run as part of the district’s efforts that will ramp up before Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game takes place at Chase Field on July 12.
The sign advertises Chevrolet and is a small static billboard on the western side of the Jefferson Street parking garage near the stadium.
The goal of the installation was to make sure all the correct processes are in place, as larger, electric LED billboards are set to be installed over the coming weeks, Norris said.
The Legends Entertainment District is aimed at illuminating and energizing the Jefferson Street corridor surrounding both Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and U.S. Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns.
“You will really see this whole area come to life,” said Rick Welts, president and COO of the Phoenix Suns.
In addition, APS has announced its participation in the Legends Entertainment District, and will be among firms advertising on the multi-story, LED billboards and giant-sized kiosks.
“Our company is a very big part of downtown. We really view this as a way to communicate with our customers and educate our customers,” said Don Brandt, CEO of APS.
While the outreach effort is still being developed, Brandt said APS’ presence in the district will include information about energy efficiency and renewable energy options available to customers.
In addition to APS, Fox Sports Arizona is among those who will advertise in the district. The network carries both Diamondbacks and Suns games.
Brandt, Welts and Norris were among a host of city leaders and executives to attend the Downtown Phoenix Partnership Board of Directors meeting Monday. Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was also among leaders to attend the meeting.
Post office renovations to create student space
ASU is seeking students’ opinions on the $4.9 million renovation of a new campus space in downtown Phoenix’s historic U.S. Federal Post Office building.
ASU students and staff members discussed what should be done with the ASU-owned area of the post office at a meeting Friday with Holly Street Studio, the local architecture firm that will renovate the building. (Kristin Fankhauser/DD)
The upcoming renovation will utilize a first-floor portion of the late 1930′s building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of the building’s historic status, many of its characteristics must stay true to their original nature.
ASU students and staff members discussed what should be done with the area at a meeting Friday with Holly Street Studio, the local architecture firm that will renovate the building.
The meeting included group discussions about students’ wants and needs, a tour of the space that will be renovated and a presentation of building blueprints by the architects.
Public policy and public service sophomore Marcus Jones, the student representative for the renovation project, said that despite the challenges of keeping the building true to its history, it will be possible to make the area functional for students’ needs.
“It needs to be to-date, but still incorporate historic concepts — (that) is what makes it the challenge, but I know it’s doable,” Jones said.
The goal for the area is to create a gathering center for students. Lockers, computers, a convenience store, a strong Wi-Fi connection and more space for student organizations were among the needs mentioned by students during a group discussion period. Students also discussed adding larger windows to open up the view to the nearby Civic Space Park.
Openness to the surrounding community and historic preservation were also prevalent topics in the meeting.
Dean of Student Affairs Georgeana Montoya mentioned the possibility of local transients using the space, especially if lockers are available, and brought up the possibility of making the area only accessible to ASU students. The building, however, would still function as a public post office.
ASU architect senior Patricia Olson mentioned dozens of “character-defining features” that legally have to be kept intact, including the four large skylights in the student area, the intricate accentuation at the entrances and the original murals, which represent a national trend of federally commissioned art during the Great Depression.
Olson said maintaining the historic accuracy of the building would contribute to students’ sense of community.
“History gives a sense of a tie to a larger social urban fabric,” Olson said. “Being in a building with this history … gives students a connection to their community.”
Jones agreed that ASU’s involvement in a historic building contributes to the goals of an urban campus.
“The historic feel sets us apart from everywhere else,” Jones said. “It does bring us that sense of community. We are the downtown community. That’s what sets us apart.”
All of the money used to renovate the building will come from a facilities fee, which has not yet been levied on students but was passed by ASASUD, ASASUD Vice President Jessica Abercrombie said.
Students are invited to attend another meeting on Friday, April 22, when the architects will present some initial concepts for the space.
Construction is roughly estimated to start October 2011 and end May 2012, although Montoya said various obstacles would likely push that deadline back to fall 2012.
Contact the reporter at email@example.com
Correction: April 11
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Marcus Jones was a journalism major and that the portion of the post office that will be renovated was owned by ASU. Jones is a public policy and public service major and the building is owned by the City of Phoenix.
Soon-to-Be Artist-Friendly Apartment Complex
The old Oasis Hotel on Grand Avenue is getting a major makeover.
The permits and plans for renovation on the vacant motor lodge, at Roosevelt Street near Trunk Space and the Bikini Lounge, has been an ongoing battle for developers and architects. But work started on the lodge’s balconies last week, and plans for the currently seedy property include a hip apartment complex called Oasis on Grand.
Oasis on Grand will be similar, in most respects, to Holgas. Plans include a variety of studio and one-bedroom apartments that will function as both studio-galleries and living spaces. According to Sprague, the spaces will rent for $400 to $700, and more than a dozen of the ground-level apartments along Roosevelt Street can function as galleries open to the public.
“What we envision is that the artists on the bottom floor can turn their living rooms into personal studio-galleries,” he says. “I love the idea of seeing a bunch of new galleries opening along Roosevelt open every First Friday.”
Sprague says the remodeling will take approximately six to eight months to complete, with a grand opening happening sometime in the late fall.
The Oasis began life as the Caravan Inn West in 1960, one of the many colorful motor hotels that sprung up along Grand Avenue when the thoroughfare was the primary route for motorists to get from Phoenix to Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
It later reopened as the Oasis Hotel in 1971, but fell into serious decline over the next four decades, becoming something a seedy flophouse before closing down in 2007.
Sprague says that several “common area” spaces at the new Oasis will serve as a community-oriented studio and gallery, and there will also be tree-lined courtyard area for special events.
The adjacent Grand Corral restaurant and lounge will also be remodeled simultaneously, although it’s currently undecided whether the building will function as an eatery or bar.
Sadly, there are no plans to excavate the old swimming pool that dates back to the property’s days as the Caravan Inn West and has since became a parking lot.
“Sorry to say, the swimming pool will stay a thing of the past.”
NOTE: Tim is a member of the DVC Steering Comittee.