In the spring of 2004, members of the Downtown Phoenix Arts Coalition (D-PAC) proposed forming a link with other downtown grassroots organizations to ensure that future plans for downtown development would include the vision of all downtown stakeholders in the redevelopment of downtown Phoenix. D-PAC was soon joined by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Arizona Chain Reaction (now Local First Arizona), Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition, and Community Housing Partnership. The final outcome was the report, “Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown.”
On January 16, 2010, Downtown Voices Coalition and a broad-based group of downtown community leaders and residents reconvened to assess progress and determine initiatives for future focus. This update recaps progress for major downtown initiatives since 2004, and illuminates issues and opportunities that still need attention. As in six years ago, the desire of those attending the 2010 conference is to share recommendations that lead to positive change and a more vibrant, inclusive vision for downtown Phoenix. In order to understand the collective underlying values, beliefs, and perceptions that would guide and influence the group’s thought process, stakeholders identified nine guiding principles by which all future discussion, decision-making and downtown development should abide. These guiding principles, consolidated within the 2010 initiatives mentioned in this report, are as follows:
- Community – The community should be central to downtown development. Obtaining community buy-in or acceptance for a specific vision of downtown development is crucial and critical to any successful downtown revitalization effort. While obtaining consensus or acceptance to a specific vision may be difficult and challenging, it is critical to success.
- Communication – Positive change will require constant communication and connection with the downtown community and stakeholders. The public must be informed and have its voice heard to ensure a collaborative effort that will guarantee the success of downtown redevelopment.
- Aesthetics – Design of all aspects of a development project should take into consideration the history of Phoenix and its central position in the metropolitan valley. Design should be complimentary to our heritage, environment and community assets.
- Preservation – Preservation of Phoenix’s rich history and diversity should have an important place in the redevelopment of downtown.
- Mobility/Accessibility – Downtown should incorporate a multi-modal system that allows for easy access as well as various types of transportation methods beyond the automobile, including pedestrian friendly streets, bicycle lanes and paths, and bus and rail public transportation.
- Diversity – Downtown should reflect a sensitivity to the diverse ethnic, socio-economic, and educational backgrounds, along with the variation in age groups and sexual preferences that are an important characteristic of our downtown neighborhoods. Success of downtown redevelopment will embrace this diversity and incorporate it as a dynamic community asset.
- Arts/Culture – Downtown should incorporate an already existing mainstream and growing grassroots art and cultural environment and support downtown Phoenix as a regional arts and culture center.
- Economic Development – Market information of specific and current economic, social and physical conditions existing in downtown Phoenix should be utilized when discussing and planning the economic revitalization of the downtown core. An understanding of the downtown market place through the completion of market analyses, inventory of businesses, customer surveys and other market research will assist all stakeholders in decision-making. These efforts will lead to the development of realistic strategies for sustained economic growth.
- Environment – Downtown revitalization efforts should take the environment into consideration. Institutional acceptance of environmentally friendly development is critical to the preservation of precious natural resources such as efficient use of water or landscaping suitable for the Sonoran Desert climate.
Rather than providing an exhaustive issues narrative in 2010, this update efficiently notes, at-a-glance, the current top issues that today require focus by leaders in both the public and private sectors – inclusive of grassroots, community-based leaders to elected public officials and all downtown Phoenix constituents in between. Click on Affordable Housing to begin with the first priority issue, or click on any of the pull-down tabs at the top of this page for any other priority issue of interest to you.
We thank our 2010 event organizers who volunteered their time and energy planning the two-day event, facilitating discussions, and summarizing key points:
- Reid Butler, moderator, Environment
- Tim Eigo, moderator, Public Spaces
- Nan Ellin
- Dale Erquiaga, facilitator
- Catrina Kahler
- Jim McPherson, moderator, Visioning and Planning
- Zach Newsome, moderator, Locally-Owned Businesses
- Eva Olivas, moderator, Neighborhoods
- Carol Poore
- John Saccoman
- Byron Sampson, moderator, Historic Preservation
- Tim Sprague
- Jeremy Stapleton, moderator, Design Guidelines
- Louisa Stark, moderator, Affordable Housing
- Craig Van Korlaar, moderator, Locally-Owned Businesses
- Steve Weiss, moderator, Arts and Culture