Here’s an unofficial list of revitalization initiatives in downtown Phoenix, created by a member of Downtown Voices Coalition, including color-coded status report (as critiqued by the map’s author). Many are (or could be) “fine-grain” projects that make a city a community.
BLUE: Successful (Maintain!)
GREEN: In Progress
YELLOW: On Hold; Caution
MAGENTA: On Life Support
Click on an individual colored-pin for some “color commentary” and background.
Other important initiatives impacting downtown Phoenix and environs are larger in geographic scope (and thus harder to pinpoint on this map): Adaptive Reuse Task Force; Arts, Culture and Small Business Overlay; Canalscape; Connected Oasis; Discovery Triangle; Grand Avenue; Opportunity Corridor; Roosevelt Row; Shade/Tree Planting Efforts; Urban Form Project.
Any and all additions, edits, suggestions, or offers of mapping expertise are more than welcome.
[Source: Betty Beard, Arizona Republic] — For all its looming high-rises and growth, downtown Phoenix hasn’t become so big that entrepreneurs feel squeezed out. In fact, owners of small businesses in and near downtown Phoenix see only opportunity in the urban professional workers; the growing nightlife; the expanding Arizona State University campus; and the tripling of the Phoenix Convention Center coupled with a new 1,000-room Sheraton hotel. They watch optimistically as new offices and residential and retail buildings are being constructed, and they’re especially eager for Saturday’s arrival of light rail.
Progress in downtown Phoenix is noticed, though some say it hasn’t come quickly enough. The area is not yet the vibrant, 24-hour urban core many expected. One big challenge is increasing pedestrian traffic because downtown Phoenix isn’t as compact as other downtowns in the Valley. Most small businesses are on the fringes of downtown, where owners still can find an old building with character that can be leased cheaply enough (maybe in the range of $15 to $18 a square foot) to allow the property to become profitable. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
Editor’s Note: Downtown Voices Coalition has long called for investment in and promotion of Phoenix’s locally owned businesses. Summary recommendations from the 2004 “Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown” report are highlighted below. To review the full report, click here.
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.
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%).
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.
[Source: Arizona Republic] — The second annual Happening in Downtown Phoenix is Saturday, Nov. 1 and includes a loft and home tour, a pub crawl, the What’s Happening Street Expo, the third annual Parade of the Arts, and the first It’s Happening sweepstakes. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Fifth Street between Roosevelt and Garfield streets and will continue until 2 a.m. For more information or to purchase tickets for the loft/home tour and pub crawl, click here.
The event is sponsored by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership in conjunction with the Phoenix Community Alliance, the Mayor’s Office, and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. The goal is showcase the growing array of living and entertainment options in the 90-block area that makes up downtown Phoenix. “We’re excited about this year’s celebration and the opportunity to showcase the energy and dynamism of the downtown scene,” said David Roderique, DPP’s president and CEO. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
Advocates for a vibrant, 24/7 downtown Phoenix hope to convince the Phoenix City Council to extend light rail closing hours from Midnight to 1 a.m. The Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee will discuss this matter at their Thursday, September 18 meeting at City Hall, 12th Floor, 200 W. Washington St. (start time is 9 a.m.). The public is invited to attend.
From time to time, we’ll throw out an “Idea of the Day” culled from sources here in Arizona and elsewhere. The following idea comes from a recent article in New London, Connecticut’s daily newspaper, The Day, about their city’s attempt to deal with vacant, dormat lots in their downtown, a problem experienced in many cities across the U.S., including Phoenix:
“Frank McLaughlin, a downtown developer, and Penny Parsekian, the New London Main Street CEO, said some people have started talking about reverse taxation: levying a higher tax on a property that is vacant. ‘What happens is, that vacancy devalues the property around it, and so there should be a fee for that,’ Parsekian said. ‘It’s been that way in Germany forever — you get taxed on the land instead of the property. And vacant land gets taxed at a higher rate.'”
At a recent Mayor’s breakfast meeting, the scheduled times of operation of light rail were announced. The trains, as it was reported at this meeting, will shut down between 12 midnight and 4:45 a.m. except for “special events.”
If downtown Phoenix is ever going to become what its proponents have stressed it should be, a “24/7 vibrant downtown” then not having light rail run 24 hours a day is a detriment to achieving this goal. The reasons are many:
- Closing time for nightlife and entertainment is generally 2 a.m., with many other locations doing “after-hours” past the traditional bar closing times.
- Restaurant and bar workers don’t finish at midnight, and they are the ones who would use late-night public transportation.
- Taking people who stay out late night and use light rail as their “designated driver” would reduce DUI arrests and accidents caused by impaired drivers.
- It is the measure of a city’s vitality and growth when it recognizes that a true “24/7” downtown doesn’t close at 12 midnight.
This doesn’t mean the train needs to run every 20 minutes. If trains could just run a once an hour schedule, riders would at least know there is a way with some patience to avoid driving.
Funding could be partnered with many different entities, including the hospitality and beverage industry and various anti-DUI organizations.
Downtown Voices Coalition, by a unanimous vote of its steering committee, asks the Mayor, City Council, and interested parties to find a solution for running light rail on a 24 hour schedule.
Steve Weiss, Chair, Steering Committee, Downtown Voices Coalition
- Phoenix’s arts community conveying the energy and vitality of urban life;
- Downtown development projects that are reshaping the urban core;
- Design elements and amenities highlighted in revitalized historic neighborhoods; and
- The creative businesses and individuals for whom downtown is inspiration and home.
For more information, click here.
Join Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and members of the downtown business community to discuss emerging projects and initiatives in Downtown Phoenix. With the light rail construction wrapping up and cranes moving around each day, Mayor Gordon will share his vision of the “next steps” for downtown. Coffee will be provided.