Blog Archives

Bashas’ to close 10 Arizona stores, cut 1,000 jobs

[Source: Max Jarman, Arizona Republic] — Bashas’ Supermarkets Inc. said late Sunday that it would close 10 more stores July 21, resulting in approximately 1,000 job cuts.  The company also said it would make an important announcement today that would affect the future of the company.  Mike Proulx, Bashas’ president and chief operating officer, would not elaborate on the nature of the announcement.   [Note: Read the full article at Bashas’ to close 10 Arizona stores, cut 1,000 jobs]

Phoenix Store Closings

  • 1648 S. 16th St.
  • 4727 E. Bell Road
  • 4338 W. Thomas Road

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.]

Why Gangplank didn’t locate in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Derek Neighbors, Gangplank, December 19, 2008] — People often ask why we didn’t locate in downtown Phoenix when we moved Gangplank.  I always try to be polite with my response (or usually I do).  However, the truth is because we feel that downtown Phoenix is dead.  It has been for a long time.  Twenty years of pouring money into it hasn’t changed much.  Now before you go and label me a hater (which I am), I will say that I worked for nearly ten years at the heart of downtown.

While I remain in love with the concept of a vibrant downtown, those ten years taught me that our downtown is a lost hope.  It is bustling with people from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, but then it turns into the proverbial ghost town.  Light rail or billions of dollars in cash infusions won’t change this.  Adding skyscrapers and professional sports arenas certainly hasn’t.

The problem is Phoenix is where people from high rent places like Chicago, California, etc. come to own a piece of the American dream (land/home ownership) or from the mid-west where rural (space) is a way of life.  The people dwell by choice in our suburbs.  In order for downtown Phoenix to not be dead, it has be inhabited by the people currently choosing the edges. I don’t see this happening on a scale large enough to make an immediate difference.

So back to Gangplank, there is a myth that if you centrally locate you attract a large base of the greater community.  The problem is downtown Phoenix has NO PEOPLE, making it effectively the center of “bullshit and nowhere.”  West or East side residents have little interest in driving 30 to 50 miles nor do North or South residents, when the destination is nowhere.  Metro Phoenix is now big enough that picking a side actually yields better results than picking the uninhabited middle.  Yes, I’m sure I have pissed several people I respect off by now, but signs that the current movement is failing yet again are written all over the wall.  This economy is not helping.  Both the USA Today: “Pain on Main Street: Timing proves bad for Phoenix” and Arizona Republic: “Developers scale back $900 million CityScape project in Phoenix” ran articles on the subject lately.

While there are many locals that remain hopeful like Sam: “Deserted After Dark” and Tyler: “The State of Downtown Phoenix…”  Let’s face it, when a downtown ambassador employed by merchants to assist visitors, says he often sends tourists to Scottsdale and Tempe when they ask about night life. Then states, “It’s a ghost town.”  That’s a pretty strong sign that there are serious problems with the current formula.  I love metro Phoenix (including its downtown) and I hope that I am wrong, but as of now I’m not willing to gamble my money on it.

Before you respond… Do you live in downtown Phoenix?  If not, why?  If so, do you have a spouse and kids?  For now I would classify downtown approx. 19th Ave to 24th Street between Thomas and Buckeye (16 or so square miles).  [Note: To read the full blog entry and comments, click here.]

Small businesses rate quality of life, downtowns of Arizona cities

The O’Neil Associates/ASBA Economic Indicators Monitor asked 3,000 small businesses across the state two questions about quality of life.  The first of these asked, “Which of these cities do you believe has the best quality of life?”  Three cities dominated responses.  Tempe was the city chosen most often for best quality of life, with fully a quarter (25%) of respondents.  Tempe was followed by Tucson (21%), and Prescott (21%).  No other city received responses in double digits, although Phoenix (8%), Flagstaff (7%), and Gilbert (7%) were notable.

Quality of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When focus was moved exclusively to the issue of the best downtown, only four cities received significant numbers of mentions.  Again, the most commonly cited city was Tempe (29%).  This was followed by Phoenix (23%), Scottsdale (21%), and Prescott (15%).

Best Downtown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results are taken from the Q3 O’Neil Associates/ASBA Arizona Economic Indicators Monitor.  Results provide insights into the perceptions of business owners on the economic health and vitality of the Arizona economy.  The survey has a margin of error (at the 95% confidence level) of approximately +/-6%.  For a complete copy of all O’Neil Associates/ASBA Arizona Economic Indicators Monitor reports released to date, as well as opinion research reports on an array of other topics, click here.

Metro Phoenix housing prices dip again

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — Lenders’ pledges to be more aggressive about modifying delinquent mortgage loans did nothing to ease Maricopa County’s swelling foreclosure rate in October, according to the latest housing report from Arizona State University.  Foreclosures on single-family homes increased from 3,655 in September to 3,745.  Meanwhile, home resales followed a predictable pattern of seasonal decreases, dipping to 4,465 transactions in October from 4,625 sales the month before.

The city with the highest ratio of foreclosures to resales was Phoenix, where there were 65 more foreclosures than regular sales.  The median resale price also fell slightly, to $175,000 in October from $180,000 in September.  The median price is down 30% from $250,000 in October 2007.

  Home Resale Median Price

Foreclosures

2007 Population Foreclosures Per Capita
Chandler           250 $241,200             1,335      246,399 0.542%
El Mirage             85 $101,925               100        26,431 0.378%
Surprise           280 $157,250               215        90,717 0.237%
Goodyear           125 $158,000               110        52,864 0.208%
Avondale           160 $142,250               160        79,798 0.201%
Peoria           195 $214,350               165      146,743 0.112%
Glendale           315 $154,650               275      253,152 0.109%
Phoenix        1,270 $121,950             1,335   1,552,259 0.086%
Mesa           440 $174,000               365      452,933 0.081%
Gilbert           290 $227,000               165      207,550 0.079%
Scottsdale           265 $441,500               155      235,677 0.066%
Tempe             75 $240,000                 35      174,091 0.020%
Sun City             40 $190,000                   5        39,000 0.013%
Maricopa Co.        4,465 $175,000             3,745   3,880,181 0.097%

Color Key: East Valley (green), West Valley (yellow), Phoenix (orange)

Arizona Music Project musicians (by hometown)

As noted in a previous post, the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) has embarked upon a new project to encourage visitors to not only see Arizona but to hear Arizona.  AOT has developed the Arizona Music Project (AMP), a six-minute musical tribute to Arizona that captures the state’s diverse geography, culture, and heritage in music.  In addition to the composition, a documentary was created to chronicle the journey of the musicians who contributed to the project. 

And those musicians, places of residence, and instruments are:

  • Chandler: John Herrera, percussion
  • Gilbert: VerRona Grandil, viola, violin
  • Mesa: Dominic Amato, saxophone; Carrie Caruso, violin; Nick Sterling, guitar; Joe Swierupski, bass; Melanie Yarger, cello
  • Phoenix: Hai Jung Choi, bass; Bob Giammarco, bass: Chuck Kerrigan, tuba; Louie Moses, drums; Joshua Whitehouse, trumpet
  • Prescott: Joseph Torguson, pedal steel guitar
  • Scottsdale: Richard Bass, trombone
  • Surprise: Jason Camiolo, composer, drums; Paul Cruize, guitar
  • Tempe: Elijah Bossenbroek, piano; Nathan Mitchell, French horn
  • Tucson: Gabriel Ayala, classical guitar, flute

Developer floats cancer center in suburbs, not downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jahna Berry and Edythe Jensen, Arizona Republic] — An influential developer wants the University of Arizona to consider putting a sought-after cancer center in a suburb, not downtown Phoenix.  Officials from UA, which would oversee the future cancer center, have downplayed the developer’s queries in Chandler and Surprise.  Patients need a center in a sprawling, resort-like setting, and Phoenix doesn’t have enough room for that, said the developer, Tom Hornaday.   But Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon isn’t taking any chances and wants UA to reaffirm its commitment to build the center in his city.  Gordon has reasons to be worried:

  • Last year, Phoenix lost to Goodyear on a $70 million cancer center that was to be built near Loop 101 and Thomas Road.  This year, talks collapsed for a Banner teaching hospital on UA’s fledgling downtown Phoenix medical-school campus.
  • Chandler and Surprise are jockeying to be players in the state’s bioscience scene.
  • There are new Valley political players, and leaders at UA, who were not part of the early planning for Phoenix’s 28-acre biomedical hub.

Eventually the area, bounded by Garfield, Monroe, Fifth and Seventh streets, would share a hospital, researchers, and the three state universities.  Already, UA’s medical school and Translational Genomics Research Institute and a unit from the ASU engineering college have taken root there.  State lawmakers recently approved $470 million for future campus construction.

Gordon wants UA to reaffirm its four-year-old commitment to put a branch of the Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix.  “While outsiders are trying to put together a speculative real-estate deal, it risks slowing down and diverting the attention necessary to continue the momentum to build the biomedical campus,” Gordon said, noting the state Legislature and other groups have committed more than $1 billion to the downtown project.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Run-down Phoenix neighborhoods Mayor Gordon may want to visit (Republic column)

[Source: Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic] — Interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed over the past few days.  A lot of people seem to think Phoenix is a lovely place to live.  They’re giving me a hard time for giving the mayor a hard time for the shabby state of Tom Alexander’s neighborhood.  But here’s the thing I’ve noticed, as they spring to the defense of Phil Gordon and Phoenix in the wake of my Saturday column: Most of them live in Surprise or Chandler or some place other than Phoenix.  Here’s Jim: “Are you actually shocked that this gentleman’s street is not like it once was or as he had hoped it would be 35 years later?” 

No, not shocked, but saddened that a guy like Alexander, a man who went to war for his country and worked hard all his life, must now be ashamed of the street where he lives.  Saddened and surprised that such a thing would occur in the city run by North America’s best mayor.  Surely the pride of the continent would notice that his city has a problem.  And put up a fight.

While it’s great to work on boosting downtown, most people’s views of their city come from the place they live.  Their street.  Their neighborhood.  And frankly, the view isn’t so good in whole sections of this town.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Where are Arizona cities among top 100 places to live?

Money Magazine issued its 2008 list of America’s SMALL cities.  Okay, Phoenix isn’t small, but how does it stack up against the top ten SMALL cities in finances, housing, quality of life, leisure & culture, weather, health, and neighbors.  Click here to find out.  Arizona SMALL cities ranked in the top 100 are: Gilbert (28), Chandler (30), Scottsdale (47), and Peoria (55).

Phoenix’s Franklin School wins state preservation award

The non-profit Arizona Preservation Foundation and the State Historic Preservation Office, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, announced the winners of the 2008 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Awards at a luncheon ceremony at the Sixth Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Partnership Conference, “Preservation on the Line.”  Each year, 10 awards are given to individuals, businesses, organizations, and projects in recognition of outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona’s prehistoric and historic patrimony.  This year’s Honor Award winners are:

  • Brunenkant Bakery Building, Florence
  • Central Commercial Company Building, Kingman
  • City of Glendale’s Department of Planning
  • Curley School, Ajo (Grand Award)
  • Franklin Police and Fire High School, Phoenix
  • James A. Walsh Federal Building, Tucson
  • McCullough-Price House Restoration, Chandler
  • Noel Stowe, Arizona State University
  • Santa Cruz County Courthouse, Nogales
  • Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Affairs Office

A panel of judges representing the fields of archaeology, architecture, history, and preservation, as well as a representative from the Governor’s Office, selected the winners from nominations submitted from across the state.  Click here for more details and photos of this year’s award recipients.  To view past Honor Award recipients, click here.