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4 protesters climb crane in Downtown Phoenix

[Via AP/ABC]

Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

Four protesters demonstrating against Arizona’s new immigration law have been arrested after scaling a 200-foot-high construction crane in downtown Phoenix to unfurl a banner.

A Phoenix Fire Department spokesman says the four people are experienced climbers and climbed the crane near Central Avenue and Jefferson Street about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Phoenix Fire Department personnel were standing by with rescue gear in case the climbers get stuck.

Air15 video showed two people in harnesses hanging from the arm of the crane suspended over the street. The other two could be seen standing above on the crane.

They eventually unraveled a sign reading ‘Stop Hate’ protesting SB 1070 and 287g.

After they unfurled the protest banner, the four descended from the crane and were taken into custody by Phoenix police who say they likely will be charged with trespassing.

The names of the protesters were not immediately released.

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Bank of America moves to foreclose on Viad Tower in midtown Phoenix

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] — A lender is seeking to foreclose on the Viad Corporate Center, a high-rise office tower on Central Avenue in Phoenix, the latest example of the region’s commercial real-estate woes.  Bank of America has asked a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to appoint a receiver for the signature tower at 1850 N. Central Ave.  The lender said the building’s owner has not kept current since December on a $65 million loan.   A spokesman for Costa Mesa-based real-estate investment firm McCarthy Cook & Co., the building’s owner, declined to comment on the lender’s action.

The ownership group, MCC/I&G Viad Office Tower Owner LLC, acquired the 478,000-square-foot tower near the height of the Valley’s real-estate boom in 2006 for about $105 million.  At the time, the office tower was nearly full.  Yet occupancy has dipped to less than 80 percent with significant leases expiring next year.

BofA said in court documents that, since December, the building’s owner has not paid interest, tax and insurance escrows, late charges and other fees.   Viad’s owners owed more than $3.9 million in back payments and fees as of January.   With BofA seeking an accelerated repayment per the loan’s terms, the debt has escalated to over $81.2 million in principal, fees and other costs, the lender said in court documents.  BofA wants the court to appoint San Diego-based Trigild Inc. as the building’s receiver.  Trigild specializes in distressed-property management, receivership and loan recovery.   [Note: Read the full article at Bank of America moves to foreclose on Viad Tower in midtown Phoenix.]

Tall buildings plan pulled back for Central and Camelback

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — A Phoenix developer has pulled back from seeking approval for a project that would have included some of the tallest buildings in Phoenix.  Reid Butler submitted plans for the southwestern corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road in May 2008, but the plans immediately ran into nearly unanimous opposition from the area’s historic neighborhoods and the city councilmen who represent them.

Butler wanted to put up three buildings holding offices, a hotel and condos, topping out at 400 feet.  The Chase Tower and US Bank Center in downtown Phoenix are the only buildings in the state that are that tall. The Qwest Tower at Thomas Road and Central falls just short.

What the project might have had going for it is its location at the north end of Phoenix’s Central Avenue business area, and its inclusion of a light-rail station at a point where the tracks change direction.  But Butler never reached a point where he could argue those points before any official body.  [Note: Read the full article at Tall buildings plan pulled back for Central and Camelback.]

Attend Phoenix’s First Friday, Oct. 2


Phoenix First Friday (Photo source: Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau)

[Source: Roosevelt Row] — Join one of the largest free art walks in the U.S. on the first Friday of every month in downtown Phoenix.  And enjoy the luxury of a hassle free ride to First Friday on the Light Rail.  Finally, you can enjoy the evening without the stress of parking.  Just get off at the Central & Roosevelt stop and head to your favorite spots on the Row.  Don’t forget to head west to the great businesses and attractions in the avenues and along Central.   [Click here for Arizona Republic interactive map.]

Phoenix’s Central Avenue is central in light rail contractor’s lawsuit


Central & McDowell light rail stop (Photo credit:

[Source: East Valley Tribune/Associated Press] — A contracting firm that built part of the light-rail line for the Phoenix metropolitan area has sued the region’s mass transit agency over breach of contract and is seeking at least $19 million in damages. Missouri-based Herzog Contracting Corp. alleges in a 10-count complaint filed in Maricopa County Superior Court that Valley Metro failed to properly disclose where the utilities were before work crews started digging.

Herzog built three miles of the light rail along Phoenix’s Central Avenue and the street work was a source of frustration for many merchants, who complained that it seemed to drag on endlessly.  Herzog alleges it found “hundreds of unidentified, misidentified or mislocated” underground utilities and within a year of starting work on the $55 million contract, the firm warned the work would take an extra year.  Metro issued a statement saying “the case is complex and will take some time to resolve.” [Note” To read the full article, click here.]

Midtown Phoenix’s Chateaux on Central poster child for real estate bust

chateaux-phoenix-condos[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — The brick mini-mansions sitting empty on Phoenix’s Central Avenue is first on the New York Time’s list of “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age.”   The newspaper commissioned a photographer to go across the country and capture physical evidence” of the real estate bust.

Phoenix’s Chateauxs were supposed to sell for more than $4 million and be topped with copper turrets. But in late 2007, PHX Partners — developer of the unusual project project — filed for bankruptcy.  Phoenix-based commercial lender Mortgages Ltd. then financed the project and took it over through foreclosure.  In mid-2008, Mortgage Ltd. was forced into bankruptcy.  Chateaux is a high-priced, nearly built castle-esque ghost town on Central Avenue now.

A Charlevoix Homes subdivision in Chandler was no. 2 on the Time’s list.  President of the home builder Michael Roberts filed for bankruptcy last year.  The subdivision sits half built. [Note: To read the full blog post, click here.]

Light rail contributes to uptown Phoenix’s revival


Cement foundation for new dining area just poured at Hula's Modern Tiki.

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix native Dana Mule had spent 15 frustrating months trying to find an ideal spot to open his Hawaiian-inspired eatery when he stumbled upon a funky building along the Central Avenue light-rail line. Mule had been driving for years by the uptown Phoenix structure, which housed Heap Big Beef sandwiches in the 1960s and more recently a flower shop.  As a kid, he had named it after the “Star Wars” spacecraft, Tie Fighter, because of its large iconic hexagonal window.

Now, Mule and his two California business partners are in the midst of a massive $1 million remodel, nearly doubling the size of the building to 2,900 square feet.  The expansion and renovation will allow seating for up to 125, including an indoor bar and outdoor patio area.  “It’s been a helluva process,” said Mule, standing in the shell of what in August will debut as Hula’s Modern Tiki.  “We looked at 50 locations in Phoenix before we found a place we really loved.  This has the soul and character and community-based support that we were looking for.”

Uptown Phoenix, once home to dilapidated strip malls and run-down lots, is enjoying a revival of sorts.  With light rail cutting straight through the central Phoenix district, more than a dozen new businesses have sprouted in the neighborhood near Camelback Road and Central Avenue from coffee shops and restaurants to an organic pet store. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Central Phoenix merchants sigh with relief as light rail nearly ready to roll

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The light-rail system that opens Dec. 27 has remade Central Avenue, creating opportunities for businesses even as construction woes have swept away some old businesses.  Nearly four years after construction began, merchants are welcoming customers back to Phoenix’s main thoroughfare.  A billion-dollar face lift left it with new landscaping, a series of public-art projects and a host of new businesses hoping to capitalize on the rail system’s estimated 26,000 boardings a day.

Even as businesses celebrate the end of construction, they worry about a recession that has led to shuttered storefronts across the country.  And for those who survived the detours and construction cones, resentment lingers.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

USA Today examines the pain on Main Street. 1st stop: downtown Phoenix

Mike Canzona, downtown Phoenix hot dog vendor (photo: David Wallace, Arizona Republic)

[Source: USA Today] — As a national recession deepens and the federal government bails out Wall Street, Americans are increasingly concerned about the economic health of Main Street.  That phrase evokes images of family-owned businesses in small towns.  Yet, every city has a Main Street — a major boulevard of commerce in its downtown business district.  To find out how these communities are doing, USA Today visited five Main Streets in different-size cities around the country.

The first in the series, Central Avenue in Phoenix, includes “on the street” video interviews and photo montage of downtown Phoenix.

For 8 months, Central Ave. will be closed for downtown Phoenix CityScape construction

[Source: City of Phoenix] — Beginning Monday, December 8, at 6 a.m., Central Avenue from Jefferson to Washington streets will be closed for work on the CityScape project.  The closure is expected to last 8 months.  Traffic on Central Avenue will be redirected to First Street, north to Van Buren Street and back to Central Avenue.  Pedestrian access at the closure will be restricted.  Bus stops on Central Avenue from Jefferson to Washington streets will be located along Washington Street in front of the Phelps Dodge Building.  The closure will not impact light rail.