[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal] — Four years ago, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon announced he wanted to rehabilitate run-down areas along the 12-mile stretch from the Arizona Capitol through downtown Phoenix to Arizona State University in Tempe. Dubbed the Opportunity Corridor, it was to be filled with new office, residential, biomedical, and industrial developments. Today, inopportune times have stalled those plans.
Van Buren and Washington streets east of downtown still are dilapidated and, in some cases, are worse off because of the recession and real estate crash. “It’s just in the tank,” said Mark Dioguardi, a real estate expert and attorney with the Scottsdale law office of Dioguardi Flynn LLP.
Like much of the Phoenix commercial real estate market, Dioguardi said the Opportunity Corridor is plagued by foreclosures, unsold vacant lots, shuttered businesses, and almost zero transactions, financing, and construction. [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix’s Opportunity Corridor knocked by recession.]
[Source: Associated Press] — Parts of the Arizona Capitol complex and surrounding parts of Phoenix would get a makeover in the years leading up to the state’s centennial in 2012, with bigger changes envisioned in the eight years after that. There’s no cost estimate yet but the architects working as volunteers told the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission that private and public funding probably would be needed, along with cooperation from the city, area landowners, and the state government itself. “We hope this is a nonpartisan, totally universal thing that is right up there with apple pie and grandma,” Phoenix architect Will Bruder said Friday.
Projects proposed for completion before the February 2012 centennial include:
- promoting part of Washington Street as “Centennial Boulevard”
- erecting new shade ramadas and steps to upgrade the usability of the Old Capitol
- livening up the Executive Tower’s exterior
- adding new rail service between the Capitol and other parts of downtown
- designating Washington Street as the city’s main parade route (as Central Avenue’s use for light rail eclipsed that role)
Longer-range ideas call for:
- designing new and remodeling existing state buildings
- creating extensive commercial and residential development between downtown Phoenix and the State Capitol
Tom Smith, a former legislator who serves as chairman of the mall commission, pressed the architects for commitments that they would stick with the project. Previous proposals to rework the Capitol complex have largely not been implemented, Smith noted.
Key components of the various projects will include promoting renewable energy, increasing the livability of the Capitol area, and celebrating all parts of the state, not just Phoenix, said Bruder and landscape architect Michael Dollin. The Capitol area needs to be changed from a “collection of buildings” to a unified area centered on Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, which could serve as a central gathering spot for outdoor events and gatherings, Dollin said. “It’s really the state’s premier park in an urban setting,” Dollin said. “We feel it should be the premier living room in the state.”
The 96th anniversary of Arizona statehood will be celebrated on Thursday, February 14, at “Museums on the Mall: Celebrating Arizona’s Statehood” at the Arizona State Capitol in downtown Phoenix, and two new exhibits about Arizona history will open. Chief Justice Ruth McGregor will kick off the Statehood Day program leading the Pledge of Allegiance at 12:30 p.m. in the historic Senate Chamber. Governor Janet Napolitano has been invited to deliver a statehood proclamation, with presentations to follow by Senate President Tim Bee and Speaker of the House Jim Weiers. Between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Arizona’s history will be celebrated with museum exhibitors from around the state who will be showing artifacts and providing hands-on activities and demonstrations for children and families on the Senate Lawn.
The historic Carnegie Library located just east of the State Capitol (1101 W. Washington) will turn 100 years old on Feb. 14. The Carnegie Library was the first permanent library building in Phoenix. To commemorate its influence on Phoenix and Arizona, an exhibit about its important history, “The Carnegie: Behind Every Library There Is a Story,” will be unveiled on Statehood Day and is open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. Refreshments and will be served.
Also, the Arizona Capitol Museum is opening its newest exhibit “Up from the Ashes: Phoenix Goes to Mars” immediately preceding the Statehood Day Ceremony at Noon. This exhibit highlights The University of Arizona’s Phoenix Mars Mission, from project development, launch, touchdown, and the resulting research.