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Jane’s Walk celebrates community art, architecture

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, The Arizona Republic]

Next weekend, Valley residents will take to the streets to learn about art and architecture in their community, and honor Jane Jacobs.

Jane’s Walk is a series of free neighborhood walking tours that takes place around the world on the first weekend of May to coincide with Jacobs’ birthday, May 4, 1916.

Former Phoenix resident Yuri Artibise, who relocated to Canada this month, helped organize Jane’s Walks the past few years. Artibise said Jacobs was an activist who championed the interests and knowledge of residents over a centralized approach to city building.

“It’s meant to promote and celebrate walkable urbanism,” Artibise said. “Last year the walk in Phoenix’s warehouse district had 90 people.”

Christina Plante and Ed Lebow are guiding the walk in Sunnyslope on May 7.

Plante, who lives and works in Sunnyslope, and Lebow, Phoenix’s public art director, will offer a personal take on the history and planning of public art in north central Phoenix.

The 2-mile walk begins at the Sunnyslope Transit Center, 8927 N. Third St.

Besides offering a look at public art along Dunlap and Central avenues, the walk will provide a lesson on the history of city-financed public art.

In the late 1980s, the Junior League of Phoenix initiated a canal beautification project. Financial support came from a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Salt River Project, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert. Phoenix committed to five demonstration projects along canals.

“The canal project came out of a long, long effort,” Lebow said. “The Junior League of Phoenix wanted to show how the canal banks could be better public space for the public. It took a lot of planning for Sunnyslope residents to accomplish that.”

The Calle 16 Jane’s Walk will feature an up-and-coming arts and culture district on 16th Street, focusing on the Hispanic population of the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Mesa Jane’s Walk will highlight downtown and historic Mesa.


Jane’s Walk Details

Three walks will take place May 7 and 8th:

  • Sunnyslope: May 7th, 8 to 10 a.m., Sunnyslope Transit Center, 8927 N. Third St. Information: christina. or 602-870-6060, Ext. 1174.
  • Mesa: May 7th, 9 to 11 a.m., meet at the south end of the Mesa Arts Center’s Shadow Walk, 1 E. Main St. Information:
  • Calle 16: May 8th, 8 to 10 a.m., begin at Way Cool Hair, 1524 E. McDowell Road, and end at Barrio Café, 2814 N. 16th St.

FilmBar set to open in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Kellie Hwang, The Arizona Republic]

Just you and a roomful of adults, some wine and a great film. It’s the new way to watch movies in the Valley.

The newest 21-and-older theater to hit the scene is FilmBar, in downtown Phoenix. The 4,000 square-foot, single-auditorium art-house theater shows indie flicks, and features a separate bar and lounge.

Kelly Aubey of Phoenix is the man behind the project.

“I’ve lived here on and off since 1971, and as I’m getting older, I’m becoming one of those people that gripes about there being nothing to do in this city,” Aubey said. “I realized that me sitting there griping is part of the problem, and it was imperative I did something.”

FilmBar is the third beer-and-a-movie theater to come to the Valley since Scottsdale’s UltraStar Cinemas opened in November, with beer-and-wine service in six premium auditoriums. In December, iPic Theaters in Scottsdale Quarter followed, offering a flashy experience with signature cocktails, suede theater seats, a lounge and restaurant.

FilmBar, which serves only beer and wine, is decidedly different. It’s in a 1966 building last used as an artist collective.

Although remodeling was extensive, Aubey kept many elements intact to give a retro vibe, including an aqua blue tiled wall on the outside and rugged rock pillars on the exterior.

The retro feel is blended with Moroccan touches.

“I’ve lived in Iran and Paris, and the combination of the two reminds me of Morocco,” Aubey said. “The lounge especially has that skinny-tie, ’60s feel with Moroccan decor . . . I really want the theater to reflect my life and my travels.”

Silver and copper lanterns with punched-out designs, and colorful star-shaped lanterns made from stained glass hang in the lounge, above the bar and in the auditorium. In the lounge, guests can relax on the dark red benches or on circular ottomans with red, black and gold star designs.

The walls are painted moss green and sky blue, and the brick wall behind the bar is stained a rust color, that will eventually loop video.

“The TVs will feature multi-media works from local artists, so people can see the great work that is going on here,” Aubey said. “Around the theater, there will be paintings and tapestries from local artists, too, and I want to encourage people to send their stuff in.”

The bar will be open until 2 a.m. on weekends, even when there are no films showing. The long, rectangular bar is topped with stamped-out, gold metal sheeting and the front is covered in floral embossed red leather.

The 60-seat theater features vintage emerald green chairs and a 16-feet by 9-feet screen. In the back row, there are several high-top tables that will have waiter service. Guests can bring their drinks in from the bar, but can’t order from their seats because Aubey doesn’t want patrons to be distracted during the film

Film Bar will show primarily independent films, including many that never make it to Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale or Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe. Aubey hired Steve Weiss, director of No Festival Required Independent Cinema, to be his film partner.

They’re opening with “The Red Chapel,” a 2009 Danish documentary about a group of comedians that travels to North Korea for a cultural exchange, in hopes of bringing humor to a country with one of the world’s most notorious regimes.

“It’s an educational celebration of what’s possible,” Aubey said. “There’s a hidden message in that right now the economy is still difficult here and times are tough, but at the same time we’re having this cultural rebirth downtown.”


What: A new 21-and-older movie theater and bar in Phoenix with wine and beer for sale, a lounge and auditorium that screens indie flicks and Valley films.

When: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. for Thursday opening. Hours are 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, noon-2 a.m. Saturday, noon-11 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 815 N. 2nd St., Phoenix.

Admission: $8 for a movie ticket, no cover for bar.


DVC: A realistic downtown assessment

[Source: Susan Copeland, Special for the Arizona Republic, January 29, 2011]

Late last year, Don Brandt and David Roderique of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership wrote a My Turn column that seemed overly and predictably self-flattering (“It’s important to keep vibrant downtown Phoenix vision alive,” Viewpoints, Nov. 28).

How otherwise would anyone count Arizona Center and Collier Center’s retail component as design successes or point to the foreclosed Summit at Copper Square or practically empty 44 Monroe née condominium projects now apartments as recent development highlights?

It pays to remind the movers and shakers that those who forget their history, or worse, glamorize it, are doomed to repeat it.

Here’s a more realistic assessment.

Sports fans are a fickle beast.  No great world city would count on any team to financially carry it.  Though Chase Field and US Airways Center bring people downtown, they depend on the abilities of athletes to act herculean.  Only Hercules can always have a winning season, and even the Suns’ Steve Nash is mortal.

The result is a cyclical accounting, reaping the few profitable months and anticipating the yawing chasm when the teams lose or finish their seasons.  Even when the games are popular, fans are pushed to get back in their cars and follow the event-oriented traffic design straight out of the center city back to their suburban homes.

Yes, we have a true world-class, award-winning signature sculpture, “Her Secret Is Patience,” in the Downtown Civic Space, but it goes dark every night at 11 p.m.

Yes, we have a beautiful Metro light rail, but it took a groundswell of small-business support for extending later hours just on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Yes, we have a downtown Arizona State University, but the promise of a campus integrated into the downtown has reaped clustered buildings and asphalt lots insular of community engagement.  There is little gain of nighttime street activity by ASU’s presence.

Meanwhile, our loss of a central city park — Patriots Square Park — is replaced by a suburban mall stylistically dating to the 20th century, and we just lost the best potential for a real vintage boutique hotel, the midcentury Sahara/Ramada, to give the city-owned Sheraton another parking facility.

With all the damage done, there are still hopeful signs, if only our city officials and civic leaders follow their own community vetted and charetted ideals.

The Urban Form Project; Arts, Culture, and Small Business District Overlay; and Adaptive Reuse Program are smarter moves for aspiring urban infill than another stab at a faux urban Entertainment District.

When the city actually listens to its citizens rather than check-marking the input box, great things happen, like the improved ASU Nursing School exterior or the forthcoming Washington Street Centennial Project.

The expensive real-estate development fallout from the Great Recession should help to reset speculation and create truly affordable rentals and live/work housing.

It remains to be seen if our civic leaders will finally get it, and not just acknowledge the contributions of arts, culture, and true street-level local business, but champion it to the level even with what was big, but teetered or failed.

Susan Copeland is the chair of the Downtown Voices Coalition. For more information, go online to


Officials Excited About Debut of 12 News’ Downtown Phoenix Studio

[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]

Phoenix leaders are abuzz about 12 News’ move into The Arizona Republic building at 200 E. Van Buren St. in the heart of the city.

They hope it will draw more foot traffic through the downtown area, and boost business at restaurants and sporting facilities.

To debut its new studio, 12 News is hosting a daylong street celebration today that includes a blood drive, celebrity appearances, a fundraiser and a concert.

With windows overlooking Van Buren Street, the ground-level studio resembles the “Today” show set in which passers-by and onlookers become part of the newscast. Activities tied to the 12 News party will take place on Second and Van Buren streets, and there will be live broadcasts throughout the day.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” said Martin Shultz, president of the non-profit Phoenix Community Alliance, which focuses on urban issues. “It is not just with Channel 12. . . . There is also CityScape and the sports arena and Chase Field and the Phoenix Convention Center. It is going to bring tremendous success.”

The studio also helps connect the rest of the country to the Valley.

“It is literally going to be a window to Phoenix and from Phoenix to the rest of the nation,” Shultz said.

Today, 12 News hosts “Downtown Goes Live with 12 News” from 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., with visits from celebrities and charitable efforts throughout the day.

Before the move, 12 News had been based at a studio near Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street. That building is for sale.

“The move itself is less than a mile, but it goes a long way toward combining the power of two key media outlets in our community,” Todd Sanders, CEO and president of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

“Both Channel 12 and The Republic have been Chamber members since the 1940s and we’re thrilled to have them both here, not only as neighbors, but also as contributors to the growth of the core of downtown Phoenix,” he said.

John Zidich, publisher of The Republic, said the new studio would make the downtown core more vibrant.

“Phoenix will be one of a very small group of cities to have such a media outlet,” Zidich said. “The studio will serve as a gathering place after games, events, breaking news and to see firsthand how quality local programming happens.”

With Maricopa County offices and courts located downtown, along with Phoenix City Hall, “it makes sense for Channel 12 to be here . . . in the thick of things,” Mayor Phil Gordon said. “The news is about listening to our community’s heartbeat. Downtown is the place where that heartbeat is loudest and where we continue to add jobs and excitement.”

Leo Percopo, general manager of the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, said he expected the 12 News studio would attract more foot traffic to the area, and to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks.

Percopo said officials at the city-owned hotel are looking into adding another entrance.

“It would really be almost adjacent to the Channel 12 window, so that you’d be able to access the District (restaurant and bar) from Van Buren Street,” Percopo said.

Downtown Phoenix Lab Lands Key Role in Cancer-Gene Mapping

[Source: Ken Alltucker, The Arizona Republic]

A Phoenix medical-research group has landed two multimillion-dollar contracts that give it a key role in an ambitious U.S. project aimed at solving the genetic riddle of common forms of cancer.

In a development that underscores Arizona’s leading role in medical research, the International Genomics Consortium was awarded nearly $59 million to collect, process and store tumor samples for the federal Cancer Genome Atlas project.

The contracts also are a reflection of Arizona’s efforts to generate high-paying research jobs in the biosciences, local industry experts say.

“The key is that they selected Arizona for a leadership role for the second phase of this project,” said Dr. Robert Penny, IGC’s chief executive officer.

IGC said it has signed a five-year, $21.4 million contract to secure cancer-tumor samples for the Atlas project. It also has received a preliminary five-year, $37.5 million contract extension to continue its role as a tissue bank for the federal project.

The Atlas project aims to map the genetic clues of cancer that may yield new ways to treat or prevent diseases that kill more than a half-million Americans each year.

IGC’s contracts will help support the downtown laboratory’s staff of 45 scientists, lab technicians, project managers and office workers and add up to 10 more positions. Just as important as the local jobs, Penny said, is the potential for creating Arizona-based spin-off companies as researchers seek to develop new drugs and tests based on Atlas-generated information.

The non-profit IGC has been part of Atlas since the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute research project launched in 2006. IGC has served as the “biospecimen core resource,” where tumor samples are stored and clinical data collected and shared with other scientists who analyze molecular information from the tumor samples.

The scope of Atlas has been compared to the Human Genome Project, a 13-year project that mapped the genes in human DNA and was completed in 2003. Scientists have used the Human Genome Project to understand diseases and develop new drugs.

The Atlas project started as a three-year pilot focused on brain, lung and ovarian cancers. The second phase of the project, funded with $275 million in federal stimulus dollars, will be expanded to 20 types of cancer.

Scientists involved in cancer research say the federal research project is vital to track all the genetic malfunctions that can trigger cancer.

“We must understand the cancer genome and we must understand it for all the common tumors,” said Dr. David Alberts, director of the University of Arizona’s Arizona Cancer Center. “If we don’t approach it in a global way, we will miss opportunities.”

Penny said the Phoenix lab will expand its ties with Arizona hospitals. IGC already secures tumor samples from Scottsdale Healthcare and has held preliminary talks to forge similar arrangements with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Banner Health and University Medical Center in Tucson. IGC also will gather tissue samples from as many as 14 out-of-state hospitals and train workers at participating hospitals about its tissue-collection protocols.

Samples are sent to IGC’s downtown Phoenix lab, processed and stored in liquid-nitrogen containers.

IGC sends the tumor and corresponding clinical information about the patients to research centers where the genetic information is sequenced and characterized. The genetic information eventually will be made public and available to all scientists.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus, Ohio, also was named as a contractor for the tissue bank part of the project, with an initial contract worth $5.5 million. It is likely that other groups will be involved in collecting tissue samples.

More than a dozen universities and research labs will handle different aspects of the Atlas project, such as genetic sequencing and data analysis.

Metro Phoenix bioscience experts say the Atlas project brings recognition to local efforts to add research jobs and make medical breakthroughs in Arizona.

“To land federal research grants of this scope is illustrative of the national role that Arizona organizations are playing in the biosciences,” said Jack Jewett, president and chief executive officer of Flinn Foundation, which has invested in and promoted the biosciences in Arizona.

IGC Chairman Richard Mallery launched IGC nearly a decade ago after his wife died of cancer. The downtown lab was an initial anchor of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which also includes the Translational Genomics Research Institute, the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and other public and private-research groups.

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Ramada razing in downtown Phoenix begins

[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]

Image Credit: Blooming Rock on Facebook

The walls began tumbling down at the old Ramada Inn in downtown Phoenix last week, but some neighbors want to stop the city from turning the site into a parking lot.

Crews with contractor Johnson Carlier have been stripping materials from the hotel at Taylor and First streets where Marilyn Monroe stayed during the filming of the 1956 “Bus Stop.”

Members of the community organization Downtown Voices Coalition have tried to fight the demolition, arguing that the site has historical value, but the city recently won a temporary, five-year permit for a parking lot at the site.

The St. Croix Villas Homeowners Association on Thursday filed an appeal with the Phoenix Board of Adjustment to oppose the permit, said Sean Sweat, a treasurer for the HOA. The condo community is two blocks north of the site.

“Maybe someday the law school will go there,” Sweat said, “but in the interim, let’s not have another damn parking lot in (downtown) Phoenix.”

Sweat said residents would prefer to see some sort of civic space – such as a park – replace the building.

The board scheduled a hearing for the appeal at its Oct. 7 meeting.

The city sought the five-year parking designation to give Arizona State University more time to obtain the capital it needs to build a college of law.

The city bought the Ramada Inn property earlier this year for about $6 million, largely from bond funds, and has been working for weeks on stripping the building of doors and other recyclable materials, and asbestos removal. Johnson Carlier is handling the demolition for $742,000.

The parking lot will have 250 spaces. The Sheraton Hotel is expected to use the lot for overflow, and Channel 12 (KPNX) may work out a deal to park its TV satellite trucks there.

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Channel 12 could move to Republic’s downtown Phoenix building

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Gannett Co., Inc. parent company of The Arizona Republic and Channel 12, may move the television station into the Republic’s downtown Phoenix mid-rise.   Under the plan, the ground floor of the Republic’s offices at 200 E. Van Buren would be reconfigured so that visitors walking in downtown Phoenix would be able to see KPNX’s studios.

The plans are just preliminary, said John Zidich publisher of The Arizona Republic.  Gannett is working on a feasibility study to determine if the move makes financial and logistical sense, he said.  “We think there are great synergies for both of our platforms,” Zidich said.  “We also think that it could be a really exciting, new draw to downtown as we position the studios so that the outside world can see inside.”

Another reason the media company is probably considering the move: both the TV and newspaper staffs are smaller.  At its peak, KPNX had 190 employees, now there are 160, according to the general manager.  Layoffs and downsizing have also shrunk the newspaper’s staff.

Zidich didn’t specify how much The Arizona Republic’s staffing has changed at its Van Buren building, saying the possible move isn’t motivated by efficiency.  “The reason to do this is strategic,” Zidich said.  “Having available space makes it easier but is not a reason.”

The news involves two key pieces of downtown Phoenix real estate. KPNX occupies two buildings at 1101 N. Central Ave., a key intersection along the Central Avenue corridor.   “It’s attractive in the sense that it is on the northern border or downtown, directly on the light rail,” said John Misner, president and general manager of Channel 12.  “It’s next to the (Hance) park, it’s not too far away from ASU’s downtown campus. You have good access to the I-10.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit Channel 12 could move to Republic’s downtown Phoenix building.]

Downtown Phoenix Events Calendars

If you’re looking for things to do and places to see in and around downtown Phoenix, may we suggest you visit and bookmark these websites for “the best of the best” events calendars (in our humble opinion):

If you know of another events calendar (that’s as comprehensive as the ones listed above), please do tell.

Axe falls on Arizona Republic staff (again)

[Source: Adam Klawonn, The Zonie Report] — If you’re a news junkie like me, then please take a moment of silence today for the latest round of laid-off staffers at The Arizona Republic, which has undergone major changes over the past two years as its parent company, Gannett Corp., deals with a failing business model.  Gannett’s stock price, once in the 80-dollar range, went up 9 cents this morning to $3.18 per share.

This once proud, family owned paper has continued its ungraceful downward spiral as core advertisers — homebuilders, automakers/dealers and retailers, among others — cut back on their advertising budgets and spend what’s left on the Web.  The newspaper charges at least $329 per inch of dreary black-and-white advertising but offers a variety of pricey online advertising options.  Conversely, Facebook fan pages are free, and for $329, you could run a pretty killer online ad campaign yourself.  You get the picture.

Back to the layoffs.  The 20 names cover a variety of departments -– from news to sports to graphics and more -– that affect the daily digest you may receive of just what the heck is going on in Arizona.  Recently, information has been more important than ever as the state Legislature makes cuts that affect us all.  [Note: To read the full blog entry Axe falls on Arizona Republic staff (again)]

Viewpoint: Downtown Phoenix’s Jackson Street lost its artists long ago

[The following “letter to the editor” was written by Steve Weiss, Steering Committee Chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, in response to the Arizona Republic’s June 10, 2009 editorial on the Jackson Street Entertainment District.  Since the letter hasn’t been printed in the Republic, we’re reprinting it here.]

There are many issues to debate regarding the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District: the loss of historic preservation on the last surviving contiguous areas of the Warehouse District, the impact on residents South of Jackson Street, or even whether a created Entertainment District can achieve the financial and sales tax success the developers and city officials hope for.  The debate can rage back and forth on these issues.

But there is one glaring fact that disputes your editorial, where you say “Even now the area is drawing artists’ studios and clubs.”

The artists were forced out of Jackson Street long ago, first by the America West Arena (now US Airways Center) and then by Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field).  What was once an area inhabited by live/work studios and galleries seeking large spaces with cheap rent is now priced for speculation or geared towards the ethereal sports fan.  The one exception is the eternally struggling Icehouse, way West of the proposed development.  No city help seems forthcoming to the last true artspace on Jackson.

As in all big cities, the gentrification of the downtown, first made cool by the artists, will be left to those who can afford “attainable” housing or “themed” entertainment.  A House of Blues club is no match for the authenticity of The Rhythm Room, as an example.

If the developers who seek to make Jackson Street interesting once again are wise enough, they will create incentives for affordable (not just attainable) live/work artist spaces and the kind of hospitable and distinct food, music and art venues that thrive in the less structured and less pricey environments of Grand Avenue and Roosevelt Street.  Look to those streets to find the remaining downtown artists and artspaces.

Steve Weiss
Steering Committee Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition