Category Archives: Tourism

Hance Park Festival, March 27

HanceParkFestival_Ticket_GRN

The True Cost Of: Boycotting Arizona

Op-Ed: City Must Review Historic Preservation Policies

Mayor Greg Stanton[Source: Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona Republic, January 4, 2012] – To be a successful and competitive city, we cannot ignore our past accomplishments. We must value our past and build on it. This principle is true in business, government, and culture, especially preservation of our architectural heritage. Our architectural history is a necessary part of Phoenix’s future economic development, but our record is mixed, some successes and some disappointments. It is time for Phoenix to revisit and improve its policy on historic preservation.

Countless studies have demonstrated that historic preservation is an economic engine. It costs less to reuse old buildings than to construct new ones. A recent analysis that examined Phoenix and other cities also showed conclusively that reusing old buildings is in almost every case environmentally sounder than new construction. Preserving old buildings creates a sense of place that is key to attracting and keeping talented employees and creative businesses. On every level, historic preservation significantly benefits a community.

Phoenix recently dodged a historic preservation bullet. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most significant buildings – the David and Gladys Wright House – was threatened with demolition. For months, many volunteers worked to save the building.

These are the unsung heroes who labored behind the scenes to save the house: an anonymous donor to whom we all are grateful, Larry Woodin and Janet Halstead of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Grady Gammage Jr., Will Bruder, Taz Loomans, Jim McPherson, Scott and Debbie Jarson, Alison King, Frank Henry, Roger Brevoort, Christina Noble, Colin Slais, Jennifer Boucek, Michelle Dodds of the Phoenix Office of Historic Preservation, Robert Joffe, and many others too numerous to list.

Preservation of the David Wright House is a victory for Phoenix, our state, and even globally. The effort has taught a sobering lesson: Phoenix’s approach to historic preservation, which has served us well for three decades, is not always adequate to accomplish our goals. We need to build on our past and improve our approach. Phoenix is maturing as a city, so we have an increasing number of historically significant buildings. Our current historic preservation tools sometimes are not up to the task.

It is time to begin a community conversation to reevaluate our priorities, policies, and procedures so we can be more effective in historic preservation and at the same time respect private property rights.

Phoenix has a proud history of building consensus through compromise. With thoughtful and respectful discussion, we can develop new policies that are right for Phoenix.

Beginning in the new year, I will assemble a team of skilled people to begin tackling this problem in an open process that will involve the entire community. With improved historic preservation policies, Phoenix’s best days are ahead.

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)

City of Phoenix urged to save Arcadia’s threatened Wright House

[Source: Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy] — A remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix is under threat of demolition. Wright designed the house for his son David and it is unique among all his residential designs. Your support is needed to urge the City of Phoenix to approve historic preservation designation for the house thereby extending its temporary protection from demolition.

Individuals interested in saving and preserving the property may sign the change.org petition here. Arizona Preservation Foundation alert here. Modern Phoenix article on Arcadia teardowns here.

Lots of bling coming to downtown Phoenix

[Source: KTAR.com]

The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns have formed a partnership to create an atmosphere in downtown Phoenix mindful of New York City’s Times Square and Las Vegas.

The Legends Entertainment District will offer nearly 50,000 square feet of unique marketing opportunities with a blend of digital signage and super-graphic static billboards, including the largest signage available anywhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Officials said the project is the first of its kind between two professional organizations.

“The new Legends Entertainment District, an attraction in itself, will help connect all the other downtown attractions, assuring visitors a more memorable and exciting downtown experience,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “Instead of heading home after a sporting event, concert or meal, visitors will want to stick around and continue enjoying downtown, thus bringing revenue to our city. This creative partnership is a win-win for all.”

The Legends Entertainment District was strategically planned to encompass landmark downtown facilities such as US Airways Center and Chase Field where more than 700 downtown events are held each year.

“The unique working relationship shared by the Suns and D-backs expands the value of associating brands with our teams,” said Suns President and CEO Rick Welts. “The Legends Entertainment District creates outdoor marketing opportunities that extend the reach of our partners beyond the walls of our playing facilities in the regions busiest corridor.”

The signage is to be unveiled at a ribbon-cutting in the second quarter of 2011.

“The look and feel associated with the Legends Entertainment District will enhance the experience for sports fans and others attending more than 700 downtown events as the vibrant signage will continue to increase traffic for local businesses and restaurants,” said D-backs’ President and CEO Derrick Hall. “More than 100,000 people will attend downtown events associated with Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Chase Field in July 2011, putting the Legends Entertainment District on a global stage when viewers around the world tune in to watch the historic game.”

The Legends Entertainment District extends from First Avenue to Seventh Street, between Washington and Jackson Streets. It includes two METRO Light Rail stations, providing easy accessibility to the area.

Judd Norris, general manager of Legends Entertainment District, said, “The City of Phoenix has given us a blank canvas to work with. The Legends marketing partners will have the ability to push the envelope and create marketing concepts that have never been seen before in our downtown. The goal of the Legends Entertainment District is to push the limits of what is new and fresh in the marketing community.”

According to The Arizona Republic, the district will have electronic billboards four to five stories tall. Giant LED TVs could cover the sides of buildings, and animated advertisements may promote products or downtown businesses.

The aim is to create more energy to encourage people to linger outside the major stadium events to shop, eat and drink downtown.

The city, the Suns and the Diamondbacks all stand to gain financially from the initiative. Additional retail sales downtown would bring additional sales-tax dollars for Phoenix. The teams would earn money from ad sales and sponsorships.

City and team officials say they do not know how much revenue the district could generate. But experts told The Republic such districts can increase revenues by millions of dollars as they spur economic growth around them.

Jeff Soule, a planner and outreach director for the Washington, D.C.-based American Planning Association, said entertainment and signage districts have been around for years, but more recently, they have been defined as an area surrounding sports entertainment centers, stadiums or arenas.

“It’s a place where you can capitalize on foot traffic and try to keep people in the downtown longer,” Soule said. “It’s good for tax revenues obviously, sales tax or whatever.”

Other experts are more skeptical. An entertainment district doesn’t always catch visitor interest and increase foot traffic, said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. He said he knows of entertainment districts in Richmond, Va., and Louisville, Ky., that have collapsed.

The Phoenix City Council and Planning Department approved zoning changes in 2009 to allow development of the district.

The Republic said that a group that had planned a separate entertainment district for downtown, the Jackson Street Entertainment District, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. The 12-acre district was proposed as a mix of nightclubs, restaurants, and commercial and residential space.

eBikes: A new way of getting around Downtown Phoenix

[From azcentral.com]
When it’s too hot to walk and too boring to ride in a car, take in a new view of downtown Phoenix through Copper Square Adventures’ eBikes. The idea for the electric bikes came when owners Silverio and Susan Ontiveros visited Vancouver, British Columbia, last summer and saw the bike rental shops around the city.

The couple who runs Copper Square Adventures hiking and tour company wanted to bring the idea to the Valley so visitors and residents could get a new perspective on the city. Last fall, they began renting seven eBikes with baskets and helmets in downtown Phoenix, including maps of hotspots to visit, local parks and coffee shops.

This fall, the Ontiveroses will initiate guided city tours on the bikes, which can go as fast as 20 mph and travel 60 miles when fully charged. The hybrid between a bike and a scooter has pedals in case it runs out of juice, a hand accelerator and hand brakes.

“We are hoping to make Phoenix more approachable and more exciting with these bicycles so people get to see parts of Phoenix you don’t normally see, the unique neighborhoods and businesses and shops in the arts district,” Silverio Ontiveros said.

The bikes can be brought aboard Metro Light Rail to ride around Tempe and other areas near the rail line.

But don’t expect to drop by the rental and touring agency for a peek. The Ontiveroses rent the bikes from the building where they live on Lincoln and Second streets in Phoenix. They will deliver the bikes to customers and to hotels.

Silverio, who was a Phoenix police officer for 33 years, says as long as riders are familiar with bike lanes and traffic laws, they will be OK riding in downtown traffic. However, there are steps the city could take following other large cities’ examples to promote safe bicycling, he said.

“In Mexico City, the municipal government is encouraging people to ride bikes,” he said.

Several European cities have bike-rental programs with stations outside of tourist areas and subway stops.

“I still have a positive feeling that this will take off (in the U.S.),” Silverio said. “In China, there are over 100 million of these electric bikes. I think in the U.S. there are 100,000.”

So far, about half of the customers who’ve rented the bikes have been Valley residents. The couple ride the bikes to church and on errands about town.

“People see it, write down (our) number and ride with their friends,” Silverio said.

Details: EBIKE RENTAL

Cost: 2-hour ride, $29; 2-4 hours, $39; all day until 6 p.m., $49; each additional hour, $15. Discounts available on rental of three bikes or more.

Reservations: coppersquareadventures.com, 602-330-3620.

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Artist creates downtown Phoenix First Friday mural, over and over again

Muralist Joe Pagac at work

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — For First Fridays on Roosevelt Row, getting noticed is practically a mantra.  Artists and advertisers take the idea to new heights.  Depending on the month, models wearing portable LCD screens advertising products mingle with the crowd.  Vehicles touting an energy drink drive loops around the festivities.  Groups of people in matching outfits hand out fliers and samples.

In November, promoter Charlie Levy, of Arizona’s Stateside Presents, tried a new tactic to garner attention: Levy hired Tucson-artist Joe Pagac to paint a mural on the western side of Eye Lounge, 419 E. Roosevelt St.  “What he’s doing is original artwork,” said Levy, who’s been staging concerts in the Phoenix area for 15 years, from bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to electronica/experimental/folk rock artist Dosh.  “A billboard costs multiple thousands of dollars.  Joe’s charging me a very friendly rate.  And he’s helping to add to the (First Friday) scene,” Levy said.

The monthly First Friday art walk showcases more than 100 venues in downtown Phoenix.  It’s packed with artists and vendors selling their canvases, jewelry, incense and CDs, in addition to musical performances, fire-breathers, break-dancers, grass-roots political activists, food stands, and people of all ages and sizes taking in the sights, sounds, and smells.  [Note: Read the full article at Artist creates downtown Phoenix First Friday mural, over and over again.]

Jackson Street Entertainment District on shaky ground

Rendering of proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — A blockbuster plan to create a downtown Phoenix entertainment district is in jeopardy as the lender filed a notice of trustee sale on several of the properties involved.  At the same time, three major Valley high-rise condo projects are poised for major court dates that could dramatically affect their future viability.

ML Manager LLC, the company created to administer the loans of Mortgages Ltd. following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, filed a notice of trustee sale March 17 on several parcels that would have formed the core of the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District.  The auction is scheduled for June 17.  SOJAC I LLC, headed by former co-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dale Jensen, was the entity that borrowed $24.2 million from Mortgages Ltd. in February 2007 to purchase properties on Third, Fourth, Buchanan, and Lincoln streets.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

MPAC board votes to ‘wind down’ organization in flagging economy

[Source: MPAC, Flinn Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust] — Confronted with difficult economic times, for itself and the arts and culture organizations it was formed to support, the Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC) board of directors has voted to cease the nonprofit organization’s staffing and programmatic operations.  MPAC will support the plan of its major funders to use remaining grants funds to directly assist arts and culture organizations.

For five years, MPAC has led the state in understanding the vital connection between the creative community and economic development.  Formed in 2004 by grants from the Flinn Foundation and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, MPAC has worked to promote a vibrant creative community in Maricopa County and harness arts and culture as an economic driver.  The foundations supported the nonprofit organization with the goal of it achieving self-sufficiency by the conclusion of the grants, scheduled for early 2011.

The recession challenged MPAC’s economic viability and fundraising efforts, as it has done to arts and culture organizations across the nation.  It ultimately thwarted plans to place a revenue-generating initiative for arts and culture on the statewide ballot—a strategy that has been successful in other major metropolitan areas during better economic times.  “Rather than continue to consume valuable grant monies, the board made the decision to wind down the organization and support the foundations’ plans to use the remaining grant funds to support arts and culture organizations directly,” said Sandra Werthman, who chairs the MPAC board of directors.

“MPAC has made substantial progress in setting the framework for arts and culture to thrive from an economic perspective in the Phoenix area,” said Myra Millinger, MPAC president and CEO.  “We just could not ignore the fiscal realities that jeopardize MPAC’s long-term existence.”

The Flinn Foundation and Piper Trust have agreed to work together in fashioning a one-time arts and culture initiative with the remaining grant funds.  Plans will be announced once program details are decided in upcoming weeks. [Note: Read the full press release at MPAC board votes to ‘wind down’ organization in flagging economy.]