Blog Archives

Talton offers alternative view on downtown Phoenix Civic Space

[Source: John Talton, Rogue Columnist] — Former Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton still thinks and writes about his old hometown, Phoenix.  Upon returning to his current home from a recent visit and book signing tour in Arizona, Jon wrote the following blog post about the new downtown Phoenix Civic Space (in contrast to this other local blogger’s view):

“…Which brings me to the Floating Diaphragm.  That’s what local wags have dubbed the “public art” project that is the signature of the new park on Central Avenue downtown between ASU and the Y.  At night, it’s stunning.  A floating purple dream.  But, as with the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, this is something designed by someone with no knowledge of local conditions.  After the first big monsoon, look for the diaphragm in your neighborhood — Gilbert would be appropriate, with its sex phobia and sex scandals. 

The park — we’ll see.  Phoenix is not good at civic spaces.  It’s unclear if it will have enough shade and grass to be inviting year-round.  And nobody can stop the creeping gravelization of the once-oasis central city.  City Hall sets a terrible example.  The old Willo House has been spiffed up as Hob Nobs.  But it’s surrounded by gravel and a couple of fake palm trees — who wouldn’t want to be around that 140-dgree heat surface on a summer day? And there are more of them — the natives and long-timers agree the falls and springs have shrunk to a week or two, and winter is getting shorter (and it lacks the frosts that once kept the mosquito population in check).  The central city needs lots of shade trees and grass, to offset the heat island effect.  It is a much better water investment than new golf courses or more sprawl.  Nobody’s listening.  Almost: The Park Central Starbucks has made its outdoor space even more lush, shady, and comfy. 

Back to the diaphragm.  It’s definitely better than the “public art” you whiz by at Sky Harbor because it focuses a civic space, the kind of walkable, gathering places great cities have and Phoenix mostly lacks.  Some art at the light-rail stations is quite well done.  But, there’s a deadening sameness.  My friend, the Famous Architect, likes to rib me, “Not everything old is good.”  True enough. But not everything new is good, either.  I’d love to see some classical statues and artwork downtown to, say, commemorate the heroic pioneer farmers, the heroic, displaced indigenous peoples, the heroic Mexican-Americans, the heroic African-Americans from this once very Southern town and the heroic Chinese-Americans.  Just two or three would offer some contrast and variety, and, I suspect, unsophisticated oaf that I am, elevate and inspire more souls who communed with them.  It would also give the lie, in visual form, to the newcomer lie that “there’s no history here.” 

Another wish I won’t get.  [Note: To read the full blog posting, click here.]

Cancer hospital moving to Gilbert (not downtown Phoenix)

Banner Gateway Medical Center, Gilbert, AZ

[Source: The Associated Press] — Banner Health has announced a partnership with the Houston-based M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to create a new hospital and outpatient-treatment center in Gilbert.  The proposed $90 million center would be built on the campus of Banner’s Gateway Medical Center and is scheduled for a late 2011 opening.  Banner Chief Executive Officer Peter Fine said Banner considered several health-care partners and decided it had similar goals with M.D. Anderson.

The deal also means that Banner will no longer pursue plans to build a cancer hospital in downtown Phoenix. Banner had discussed with the University of Arizona the possibility of developing a downtown teaching hospital and cancer hospital that would anchor the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.  However, those talks ended months ago.

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

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).

Where’s the crime in your neck of the woods?

[Source: Arizona Republic]Click here to search and map crimes reported to Valley law enforcement agencies.  You can search by city, zip code, or street name and by a specific crime type or all crimes.  Incidents are listed by zip code and block number, not exact address.  (Electronic reports are available for only the following cities: Avondale, Buckeye, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe, and Tolleson.)  Updated every Thursday.