Blog Archives

The New York Times spends 36 hours in Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix at night (David Kadlubowski, New York Times)

[Source: Randal Archibold, New York Times] — Like the myth behind its namesake, Phoenix seems to have come out of nowhere to rank as the nation’s fifth largest city. Even long-timers have a tough time explaining the city’s appeal. Phoenix has left no firm mark in pop culture, aside from a bit role in the opening shot of “Psycho.”

The list of famous area residents is rather short: Barry Goldwater, John McCain, Jordin Sparks are among the better known.  And the city is an inferno in the summer.  The other nine months of the year, however, are gorgeous and sunny, making it a perfect time to visit the city’s new bounty of top-notch golf courses, fashionable resorts, eye-opening museums, and cool night life.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix’s abandoned houses and auction notices signal McCain’s defeat

[Source: The Economist] — John McCain’s presidential ambitions ended in Phoenix’s swankiest hotel.  Next to a ballroom packed with Republican donors and activists, Wright’s restaurant served up lashings of arugula.  The hotel’s spa offered caviar facials and champagne pedicures.  After weeks of populist talk about Joe the Plumber and hockey moms, the splash of luxury was rather refreshing.  The evening began well.  An affluent crowd, done up to the nines, waved their pom-poms and cheered every announcement of Republican triumph, no matter how predictable (“Hey! We’ve won Utah!”).  They jeered as a rock band sarcastically honoured Barack Obama with songs like “Nowhere Man.”  Many knew the election was lost, and reckoned they might as well enjoy the party.

As the scale of the rout became clear, though, the mood turned glum.  “Every civilisation comes to an end eventually,” declared one participant.  Many had cross words for reporters, who are broadly believed to have given Mr Obama an easy ride.  A woman tried (jokingly?) to throttle your correspondent.  Shortly after eight o’clock, the crowd was told to go outside to await an announcement from Mr McCain.  There they stood, stiletto heels sinking into the lawn, and were treated to an eloquent, gracious speech.  The defeated candidate wished Mr Obama well and explained he was proud that America had elected a black man.  He even expressed sadness that Mr Obama’s grandmother did not live to see his victory.

The crowd’s response was not nearly so gracious.  It loudly booed when Mr McCain mentioned Mr Obama and Joe Biden.  When the Arizona senator urged supporters to join him in helping the new president, there were cries of “No!” and “Bush-basher!”  Perhaps most worrying, the crowd seemed keener on Sarah Palin than on their own senator.  Much earlier than many had expected, people spilled out to retrieve their cars from the valet. Driving away from the Biltmore, the aura of luxury faded quickly.  Phoenix has America’s sixth-highest foreclosure rate, and the city’s finances are a mess.  A mile from the hotel, streets were filled with abandoned houses and auction notices — signs of the crisis that, more than anything else (and certainly more than the wicked media) doomed Mr McCain to defeat.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Reality Check: short commutes key to metro Phoenix’s future

[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — The message delivered by top Valley real-estate and government leaders Tuesday at an annual growth conference at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa was twofold: the Valley needs to invest billions in transportation and create more jobs closer to housing communities if it wants to handle the 6 million people expected to move here by 2050.

The Urban Land Institute and Valley Partnership conference drew more than 500 people who gathered to hear the results of a growth exercise held in May aptly called Reality Check.  The goal of that exercise, the first of its kind in the Valley, was to come up with ways to better handle growth.  Among the key findings:

  • A $25 billion investment is needed in transportation, which would mean a sales-tax increase of 1.3 cents per dollar over the next 20 years.
  • 70% of transportation funding should go to light rail, commuter rail, and bus service and the remaining 30% to new freeways.
  • Most participants believe there needs to be a commuter-rail line connecting Phoenix to Tucson.
  • About 75% of new housing must be developed beyond the 101 and 202 freeways.
  • One-third of the new homes will likely need to go up in Pinal County.
[Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Green buildings & sustainable development are different says Rypkema

To a crowd of 150 — including Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and former Phoenix Mayor John Driggs — Donovan Rypkema, Principal of Place Economics and well-known speaker on preservation issues, addressed “The Role of Preservation in Sustainable Development” at a National Preservation Month event on May 6 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

Rypkema corrected the popular notion that green buildings and sustainable development are synonyms — they are not.  He was complimentary of Phoenix, especially commending four organizations and people that “get it” — as in understanding how preservation adds to the vitality of any community and makes economic (and sustainable) good sense.

This event was sponsored by the Capitol Mall Association in Phoenix with support from the Arizona Preservation Foundation, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona Department of Commerce Main Street Program, and City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.

Housing preservation topic of Feb. 27-28 seminar

The Institute for Responsible Housing Preservation will hold its first 2008 seminar, “Preserving the Aging HUD, Rural Housing, and LIHTC Portfolios: Where the Opportunities Are,” February 27-28, 2008 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.  Cost: One Day Registrant $500; Institute Members $625; Other $695. Click here for conference brochure and click here for online registration.  Questions?  Contact Linda Kirk at 202-585-8739.