Blog Archives

7th Ave. and McDowell: the gateway to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Si Robins, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — The intersection of 7th Avenue and McDowell has long been overlooked.  Before SideBar, Pei Wei, and Starbucks moved onto the southwest corner of the intersection, it was an all-but-forgotten red light stop — abandoned antique shops, boarded storefronts, and a gas station.  So many ventures have come and gone on the corner that even the real estate boom of the early 2000s couldn’t lift it out of its hole.  But, things are turning around.

Whether or not you’re ready to admit it, the corner is quietly becoming an important gateway to Downtown from Midtown neighborhoods and points west.  Those invested in the corner couldn’t agree more.  “There are great neighborhoods around it — they’re diverse; they’ve been here forever,” says Josh Parry, co-owner of SideBar, which just celebrated its first anniversary.  “We’ve got walk-up traffic and a really diverse group of people.   This corner has amazing potential.  It’s got everything going for it, but it’s just been ignored by everyone for so long.”

Mike Hogarty, a partner at Desert Viking, the development company rehabbing the southeast corner of the intersection, concurs.  “It’s the four corners of the historic neighborhoods (Willo, F.Q. Story, Roosevelt and Encanto-Palmcroft),” Hogarty says.  “It’s always been a good corner; it’s just been poorly served recently, and it’s time to change that.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit 7th Ave. and McDowell: the gateway to downtown Phoenix.]

Midtown Phoenix empty lot where WWII housing once stood sold

[Source: G.G. George] — The Encanto Citizens Association Board attended the foreclosure auction on Thursday, June 11, 2009 for the vacant land on the north side of McDowell Road between 13th and 15th Avenues.  The property that the out-of-state investor, Scott M. Haskins, had purchased in 2006 for $5,400,000 had contained 32 moderate-rate apartments meant to house war workers during World War II.  It was just two years ago to the day, June 11, 2007, that Haskins had the historic Palmcroft Apartments demolished.  In ECA’s opinion, Haskins’ action irresponsibly wasted a historic resource that, properly managed, could have sheltered low-to-moderate income families for generations to come.

The Encanto Citizens Association opposed both the alley abandonment and the grab for the excess right-of-way at the 15th Avenue bus stop.  Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Mayor Phil Gordon, former Councilman Doug Lingner, and the other Council members denied the developer the alley abandonment and the excess right-of-way.  The F.Q. Story Historic District also supported ECA’s position.

The property was sold at auction to Michael Sklar of the Sonata Property Group for $500,000.  Mr. Sklar is familiar with the neighborhood, having previously lived at 1621 N. 11th Avenue.  The Encanto Citizens Association will continue to monitor this property and, in the best of all possible worlds, work harmoniously with a developer who truly has something to contribute to the appeal of Encanto-Palmcroft.

Phoenix ZIP codes tell the story of 2008

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Home prices fared better in historic neighborhoods, like F.Q. Story, than others during recent economic slump.

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — When will the housing market hit bottom, and how long will it take to get there?  The answer is clear: It depends on where you live.  The Valley’s housing slump is really a collection of highly localized downturns, each following its own timeline and trajectory, according to analysis of 2008 Valley Home Values data compiled by the Information Market for The Arizona Republic.

While the market pressures bearing down on home values are universal, the impact of those forces is determined in part by variables such as a neighborhood’s size, age, demographic makeup and location, location, location.  A closer look at three ZIP codes in Phoenix illustrates some of the different ways neighborhoods across the Valley are being affected, but no two communities are exactly alike.

  • In the F.Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District north of downtown, ZIP code 85007, the data show a slight increase in the median sales price from 2007 to 2008, although real-estate analysts said too few homes sold for a reliable statistic.
  • The median sale price in ZIP code 85050, a portion of Desert Ridge north of Loop 101, declined 13 percent in 2008 — a sign prices have begun to level off since the 21 percent decline the previous year.
  • ZIP code 85033, in the Maryvale neighborhood of west Phoenix, experienced a one-year median drop of 53 percent in 2008, greater than any other area in metro Phoenix after a decline of just 1 percent the previous year.

[Note: To read the full article, click here.]

RadiatePHX asks what will the headlines be for Phoenix in 2009?

radiatephx[Source: RadiatePHX] — Now that the dust has settled from the holidays and light rail has opened, it is time to get our rhythm back.  This month we gather at SideBar — the hip new bar in the F.Q. Story Historic District to hear special guest Nan Ellin discuss ideas from her book, Integral Urbanism.  Nan is Director of Urban & Metropolitan Studies Program for the ASU School of Public Affairs, College of Public Programs.  She’ll share some concepts and get attendees involved in a discussion on the headlines for Phoenix in this new year.  Questions and ideas welcome.

  • Date: Tuesday, January 27
  • Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Nan’s portion to begin around 6 p.m.)
  • Place: SideBar, 1514 N. 7th Ave., 2nd Floor, Phoenix, AZ (SW corner of 7th Ave. & McDowell)
  • Happy hour specials on food and beverages will be available for RadiatePHX participants

Phoenix neighborhood coalition urges City support of existing special planning districts

[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix] — Maintaining a favorable quality of life in established neighborhoods is challenging.  Citizen developed and approved area plans are one of the tools used in the struggle to preserve established neighborhoods and define their desired character.  The City of Phoenix Special Planning District Plan (“SPD”) originally known as a Special Conservation District (“SCD”) is one form of such an area plan.  At present, there are 12 SPDs:

  • Roosevelt SPD – Central City Village
  • Story SPD – Central City Village
  • Coronado SPD – Encanto Village
  • Encanto Vista SPD – Encanto Village
  • Willo SPD – Encanto Village
  • Arcadia Camelback SPD – Camelback East Village
  • North Central Avenue SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Squaw Peak Heights SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Windsor Square SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Royal Palm SPD – Alhambra Village
  • Saguaro SPD – Paradise Valley Village
  • Mountain Park SPD – South Mountain Village

Shortly after the Squaw Peak Heights SPD had been approved (July of 2006), a dissident property owner subject to the terms of the plan, filed a suit in Superior Court challenging the way the final votes for the SPD were tabulated.  In August of 2008, the court issued a Minute Entry favoring the claimant.  If the City of Phoenix fails to appeal the Squaw Peak Heights SPD Court decision within 30 days after the formal decision is handed down (could be sometime soon after the first of the year), it will cause this particular SPD to be voided.  A replacement SPD is estopped from being a possibility because of the passage in the fall of 2006 of Proposition 207.  A failure to appeal could jeopardize the validity of all of the other SPDs because they tabulated their final votes according to the same procedures as were followed in the case of the Squaw Peak Heights SPD.

The Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix believes that the loss of the existing SPDs under such circumstances will be detrimental to all neighborhoods whether or not they fall under an SPD.  This is due to the fact that an unwillingness on the part of the City of Phoenix to at least appeal the Superior Court’s decision in this instance will be interpreted by developers as a softness on the City’s part to support other existing citizen authorized/passed area plans such as the existing Specific Planning District Plans.  Such an interpretation will embolden developers to propose projects that will not be in keeping with these plans.  The same holds true for adhering to rezoning for sites throughout the city that was passed subject to approved site plans and stipulations.

Individuals and organizations in agreement with the Coalition’s position on this matter are encouraged to send a letter or e-mail by the middle of January 2009 urging Mayor Phil Gordon and Members of Council to oppose the Superior Court decision in the matter of Madison Positive Alliance of Neighbors v. Phoenix City (case on Squaw Peak Heights SPD).  The cost of such an appeal does not come from the City’s operating funds.   It is an insurance matter.   All such letters should be addressed to the party intended at 200 W. Washington Street, 11th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003-1611.

For more information, contact Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, at 602-840-1579 or e-mail.

F.Q. Story Home Tour, Dec. 6-7

[Source: Lyle Plocher, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — Always a great historic home tour, the F.Q. Story Home Tour is happening on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7.  On Saturday night, the streets will be lit up with Luminarias and tour homes will be open from 6 to 9 p.m.  Then on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the tour homes will be open again along with street vendors with food, holiday gifts, arts and crafts, etc.  Tickets at 9th Ave. and Lynwood, just south of McDowell.  For more information, click here.