[Source: Lynn Ducey, Phoenix Business Journal] — This spring, Downtown Phoenix Partnership will begin installation of its $800,000 way-finding project to identify key sites and attractions for downtown visitors. The signs are being funded through a 2006 voter-approved capital bond earmarked for improving downtown. SmithCraft of Phoenix is doing the work. “Our big focus is on downtown aesthetics. This is a way for everyone to be able to easily find and walk to cultural sites,” said David Roderique, president and CEO of the partnership.
City leaders also are working on a proposal to address the hordes of newspaper boxes throughout downtown. Not all are maintained.
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix Convention Center impressed many visitors at this month’s National Rifle Association convention, but some attendees felt there wasn’t enough to do downtown. Tourists’ impressions from the NRA convention are important because the May 15-17 event was the largest gathering in the convention center’s history. It was also an opportunity for Phoenix to showcase a $600 million center expansion, light rail, and a new hotel.
Several convention attendees said that they were impressed with the sleek convention center, which is within walking distance of major hotels. “It’s one of the nicer ones that I have been in,” said Craig Dutton, who is based in Smyrna, Ga., and is an exhibitor for Glock Inc.
Las Vegas residents Michael Villegas and his wife, Lisa, say they were also wowed by the convention center. They only wished that there were more activity at night. “It reminded me of what San Diego was like 20 years ago,” Villegas said. While there are eateries and nightspots near the convention center, a few blocks away, it was tougher for the couple to find things to do. Villegas said he and his wife frequently talked to orange-clad downtown ambassadors to get information about restaurants and that they had a good time. They also attended a concert in a downtown park, Villegas said.
Downtown leaders say they received positive feedback from the NRA and have been asked to bid on the 2015 convention, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. The business group helps market the neighborhood as an economic and tourist destination. “Downtown does need a few more things to do, and that is something that we are working on,” Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The number of reported crimes in downtown Phoenix has plummeted more than 50 percent since 1999, and it dropped nearly 10 percent from 2007 to 2008, police statistics show. The drop is the result of old-fashioned police work, a national decrease in crime, and a downtown building spree that has transformed the neighborhood, police and other experts say.
Phoenix is in good company. Several major U.S. cities, including New York and Philadelphia, have turned once-seedy downtown neighborhoods into tourist areas. But an expert says that even the most successful downtowns must always be mindful about public perceptions about safety.
The city has come a long way since strolling prostitutes were a familiar sight downtown decades ago. And it’s gotten much safer during the last few years, too, gallery owner Greg Esser said. When Esser and his wife opened the Eye Lounge art space eight years ago, they were afraid to leave the door unlocked during business hours. Now, they don’t worry about crime much. “Instead of open-air drug deals, there are strollers and joggers and a lot more people on the street,” Esser said.
Since 1990, downtown Phoenix has gained the Arizona Center shopping mall, two sports arenas, a larger convention center, a slew of condo projects, more art galleries, and an ASU campus, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. Now Diamondbacks fans linger in neighborhood eateries long after the ninth inning and convention attendees feel at ease roaming downtown streets. “As we put more activities and businesses downtown that have later hours, we create more comfort zones,” Roderique said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Downtown Phoenix is more appetizing than it’s been in years, with more than 20 new bars and restaurants catering to tourists and locals. All of those businesses have opened or have started construction within the past two years. That’s a 25% increase, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. It’s also the biggest jump in recent memory, he added.
Many of the new establishments hope to capitalize on the thousands of people expected to descend upon downtown Phoenix’s new attractions, including the Phoenix Convention Center, which will wrap up a $600 million expansion this month. Others want to serve a quick bite to ASU students, downtown workers, or Metro commuters when the $1.4 billion light-rail line opens Dec. 27.
To be sure, the national financial crisis has curbed consumers’ craving for restaurants — taxable sales are down citywide at Phoenix restaurants and bars, according to city figures. But people are still eating and drinking downtown: Sales are up, and some entrepreneurs have forged ahead with new spots. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Most downtown Phoenix shops face tough times: they are weathering the usual summer slowdown with fewer tourists and are worried about the bleak economy. But there appear to be a few bright spots, a downtown business group says. City sales tax from downtown restaurants rose 4.1% from April to June compared to the same period in 2007, according to quarterly sales tax figures from the city. Citywide, restaurants were down 4.7%. Downtown hotels’ sales tax was up 5.6% during that three-month span, but were down 5.5% in the city as a whole, the figures show.
All of that is good news, said David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. “Even a flat or minimal increase is great,” given the downturn, he said. [Note: To read the full blog entry, click here.]