A 2012 Downtown Phoenix Year in Review

SWOT Analysis[Source: Downtown Voices Coalition] – We emailed and chatted with a few “friends of downtown” to do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of downtown Phoenix in 2012. We asked, but didn’t insist, that the lists keep in mind our statement of purpose: “Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown.”

Below are the lists – an even dozen each – that Brendan Mahoney (Mayor’s Office, City of Phoenix), Jim McPherson (Downtown Voices Coalition), Chelsea Smith (small business owner), and Sean Sweat (Central City Village Planning Committee) pulled together. What would you add? What would you delete? What would you modify? Can similar SWOTs be created for “the arts,” “sustainability,” and “midtown Phoenix,” for example? Let your (downtown) voice be heard!

STRENGTHS/OPPORTUNITIES

  • Central City South residents crafted their own Quality of Life Plan
  • City of Phoenix stood its ground against a low-density, unfunded Goldwater Library & Archives
  • “Downtown Phoenix” local history book published
  • Maricopa County South Court Tower completed (replacing, of all things, a parking garage)
  • METRO West Extension compromise reached, sparing the St. Matthew neighborhood
  • Mix of housing options blossomed (e.g., Oasis on Grand live/work apartments opened, Lofts on McKinley senior apartments opened, and Roosevelt Point apartments broke ground and unbundled parking)
  • Neighborhoods blocked Circle K expansion at 7th St. & Roosevelt
  • Pedal Craft bicycle, art, and community event rode into town (twice!)
  • Pop-up park on Roosevelt St. popped up, complete with murals, landscaping, and Peritoneum sculpture (note that Peritoneum sparked a conversation within City Hall that there should be a simple, one-size-fits-all process to activate vacant lots downtown. That process will be voted upon by City Council on January 16, 2013)
  • Seed Spot incubator opened in historic Warehouse District
  • Street and sidewalk improvements made on Centennial Way (Washington St. between 7th Ave. & State Capitol) and holiday lights returned to Central Avenue
  • University expansions, including UA Health Sciences Education Building (completed), ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus Recreation Center (under construction), UA Cancer Center – Phoenix (under development), and ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (proposed)

WEAKNESSES/THREATS

  • City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, Barbara Stocklin, summarily dismissed
  • First Street streetscape project (i.e., no bike lanes, car lanes are 14 feet wide, street parking is only 70% of what it could have been, trees shade cars not people, trees permanently lock the parking ratios on the west side of the road, and the corner radii are more than double what they should be. On the plus side, the existing ficus tree was spared from being chopped down.)
  • Implementation of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. delayed
  • Inconclusive planning for proposed Golub and Colliers developments
  • Legends Entertainment District continues to be a made-up district neither legendary nor entertaining (including suburban billboards and Visit LA banner on CityScape)
  • Madison & St. James hotels demolished
  • Maricopa County nixed bicycle commuter support station in Security Building
  • Phoenix City Council’s unanimous enthusiasm for downtown projects less likely because of budget issues and differing viewpoints
  • Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL) shut down
  • Still no downtown dog park
  • Urban Grocery closed
  • University expansions (above examples do not achieve ideal density, and the law school came at the price of the vintage Sahara Motel)
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Posted on January 4, 2013, in Architecture, Downtown Vitality, Downtown Voices Coalition, Events, History, Livability, Office Space, Priority Issues, Real Estate, Sustainability, Tourism, Urban Vitality, Volunteerism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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