Blog Archives

Capitol Mall Association to hold Dec. 10 community forum on neighborhood safety

[Source: Shannon Dubasik, Capitol Mall Association] — The Capitol Mall Association will host a community forum concerning the significant influx of sex offenders and prisoners being released into the neighborhoods on the near west side of downtown Phoenix.  Invited are city officials and staff, County Supervisors, state legislators, the Arizona Department of Corrections and other related state agencies, social service providers, business owners, and residents.

  • Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  • Time: 6 – 7 p.m.
  • Place: University Park (northwest corner of 10th Avenue & Van Buren)

For more information or if you have questions, contact Shannon Dubasik at 602-340-0745 or e-mail.

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.

Local architect makes case for revamping Capitol Mall

Arizona State Capitol[Source: Will Bruder, president, Will Bruder + Partners Ltd., Phoenix] — Happy birthday, Arizona!  Last Thursday marked the 96th anniversary of your statehood.  On Feb. 14, 1912, from the porch of the Territorial Statehouse, Gov. George W.P. Hunt and citizens of the day celebrated Arizona becoming the 48th state in the Union. Much has happened since that day.  The Territorial Statehouse, completed in 1900 and located at 17th Avenue and Washington Street, has been renamed the state Capitol.  Arizona has transformed itself from a territory of opportunity into one of the fastest-growing states in the Union.  Its capital city, Phoenix, has been recognized as the fifth-largest city in the United States and the largest center of state government.

Although the Grand Canyon will always be known as Arizona’s natural wonder of the world, there is increasing attention to the Valley of the Sun as an aspiring urban oasis in a challenging desert.  Much hard work has brought an array of cultural institutions, a convention center, an Arizona State University campus, a biotech-research initiative, light rail, and more to downtown Phoenix.  There is the sense that something is happening.

Only a few blocks away, however, around the Capitol, much of that energy dissipates.  Yes, schoolkids are still bused in to learn about our democracy and visit our historic gems like the Capitol Museum, the Carnegie Library (100 years old), and the Arizona Mine and Mineral Museum.  And, yes, there are wonderful owner-restored homes in the Woodland Park neighborhood and grass-roots community organizations, such as the Capitol Mall Association, doing important advocacy work in their neighborhoods.  But sadly, much of the area has become a shabby shadow of its youthful 1900s vitality.  Today, it is a place where few go with pride or interest.  Approximately 28,000 state employees work there, but at the end of each day, most speed quickly away down dispiriting one-way streets.  Dusty, empty lots, homeless hopelessness and crime sadly inhabit the area.  Wesley Bolin Plaza/Park, once the site of community events and celebrations, is choked with too many cars parked in the sun and arguments about memorials to tragic events of our past.

With only four full years until our 100th birthday, the celebration of our statehood centennial, we must refocus our attention and energy on this important place.  It is time not to merely talk about another well-intended plan for the Capitol District, another report that will join the 20 plus that have preceded it.  It is time to create something large in concept, practically phased as a marriage of public and private pride, and confidant enough in its ideas and stakeholders to become an inspired reality.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Groups appeal Phoenix City Council’s Sun Merc decision

[Source: Save SunMerc Coalition] — On Friday, January 13, 2006, in order to preserve their right as citizens and associations to litigate and provide reasonable notice of their continuing claims and legal theories, a motion was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court by the following groups: Arizona Asian American Association, Arizona Asian American Museum Foundation, Arizona Preservation Foundation, Capitol Mall Association, Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix, Downtown Voices Coalition, Garfield Neighborhood Association, NAILEM, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, Oakland University Park Neighborhood Association, Ong Ko Met Family Association, Organization of Chinese Americans (Phoenix Chapter), and Story Preservation Association.  Other groups are considering joining the appeal.  The groups’ sole concern is with the historic Sun Mercantile Building, not the W Hotel or adjacent new construction condominium.  All parties want, advocate, and work for a vibrant, 24/7 downtown -– a downtown that looks to the future, but respects its heritage.

Legal counsel carefully researched and reviewed the Sun Mercantile Building issue.  The appeal of the City Council’s decision is based on the following arguments:

  1. There is no credible evidence in the record supporting the City Council’s reversal of the decisions by its own Historic Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Officer.
  2. The City Council’s decision is contrary to law.  It directly contradicts the Phoenix Historic Preservation Ordinance and applicable state and federal historic preservation statutes, regulations, and rules.
  3. The City Council was obligated to review the decisions by the Historic Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Officer as a quasi-judicial body, not as a legislative body.  By approving the 11-story addition to the top of the Sun Mercantile Building the Council acted legislatively as opposed to quasi-judicially, thereby exceeding its legal authority and jurisdiction and abusing its discretion in approving a dramatic change to the Sun Mercantile Building.
  4. The City Council effectively removed the Historic Preservation zoning from the property (if left in place this action will likely result in the Sun Mercantile Building being removed from the National Register of Historic Places and/or the Arizona historic register) without adhering to the Phoenix Zoning Ordinance and proper notification process.
  5. The City Council’s approval of the 11-story tower atop the Sun Mercantile Building is contrary to the Conservation, Rehabilitation, and Redevelopment Element of the City of Phoenix General Plan.  The illegal zoning change effected by the approval of the 11-story tower is inconsistent with the Phoenix General Plan.

The groups have requested a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, and/or permanent injunction that would prohibit the City and City Council from taking any further action in regard to redevelopment of the Sun Mercantile Building as approved by the Council on December 14, 2005.