Blog Archives

Apply to Attend TEDxPHXDC in downtown Phoenix

[Source: New Times’ Jacaklope Ranch]

View from the PURL balcony. Photograph by HH Studio

TEDxPHXDC may look like just a lot of capital letters, but rest assured—it’s a locally based TED, or speaking series event, hosted by the Phoenix design community.

This year’s theme, Urban Catalysts, will bring several local design minds to talk urban design and ideas in Phoenix’s urban environment on January 26 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Urban Research Lab (or PURL).

Decryption complete. Now you just have to get a ticket.

Local designer and TEDxPHXDC coordinator Mark Dudlik says this year’s speakers were chosen because they’re “trying to help Phoenix be as great as it can be.”

Speakers include Cindi Farmer, a designer for the provost at ASU, Peter Wolf, an ASU lecturer and “recovering engineer,” and Michael Levine, an engineer and artist [ed. and DVC’s own Jim McPherson!], to name a few. Dudlik says full speaker biographies will be available online by the end of the week.

You can apply to attend TEDxPHXDC on its website through January 20. Event coordinators will then send out notifications and attendance is $10.

Phoenix seeks residents’ input on General Plan revision

[Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — Meetings are taking place citywide to ask citizens what they like about Phoenix, and what they want to change.  The gatherings are the first step in a three-year process aimed at revising the Phoenix General Plan, a document of nearly 500 pages that governs growth and development in the city.  “If you want to have a say in what happens — highways vs. transit, sprawl vs. infill, pollution, parks and open space — then you need to get involved,” said Jim McPherson, a civic activist who has volunteered in the effort.

Carol Johnson, a city planner who is managing the process, said meetings will take place over the rest of the year in connection with local village planning committee meetings.  “We really need to hear from the community about what they want Phoenix to be, and how we can get there,” she said.  “That will define the scope for what we do next.”

Johnson described the general plan as the city’s “long-term guide for the physical manifestation of the city.”  She said development of the revised plan would entail a period of “visioning,” in which ideas and goals are developed, followed by a period of drafting policies and measures, and determining implementation.

The plan could include updated sustainability measures, improved business-development plans, revised historical features, and new benchmarks for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.  In meetings so far, “there is a lot of interest in climate change and the urban heat island,” Johnson said.  “Some people have said the village cores are not working. Others want to see land use and transportation planned in tandem.” She said the plan ultimately would be organized around four subject areas: community, economy, environment and infrastructure.

Catrina Knoebl, a downtown activist, said she expects the process to be worthwhile for the public as well as the city.  “I have found the city absolutely listens to citizens,” she said. “They want to hear what residents have to say.  They are actively reaching out.”  Knoebl said she finds the timing to be advantageous because “we have more people than ever before who are knowledgeable and engaged.”

McPherson agreed the timing is right.  “We have a little bit of breathing room now,” he said.  “With the slowdown caused by the economy, we have some time to do some thinking.” [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix seeks residents’ input on General Plan revision.]

Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition to meet 6/25

The next meeting of the Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition will be held Thursday, June 25, 2009, starting at 7 p.m. in the Governing Board Room at Phoenix Elementary School District #1 (turn south off Palm Lane, just east of 7th St.; meeting room at northeast corner of the campus).  The major agenda items:

  • Update on 1302 W. McDowell issue (G.G. George)
  • 7th St. & 7th Ave and new City Council subcommittee
  • Central Phoenix Vitality Initiatives mapping (Jim McPherson)
  • Report on the status of Phoenix Planned Urban Development (PUD) review (Paul Barnes)
  • Holding home prices in historic neighborhoods
  • Open agenda

National Trust officials tour Valley for possible 2012 conference

Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation flew into town last week to view Phoenix’s convention facilities; tour selected historic sites and neighborhoods in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe; and visit with area preservation advocates to determine Phoenix’s ability to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference.  Meeting them at Sky Harbor was Sally Forrest, National Accounts Director for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski welcomes National Trust representatives Lori Feinman and Kathy Adams. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

The three lunched at the Hotel Valley Ho, one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, and then drove to downtown Phoenix to tour the Phoenix Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency and Wyndham hotels (two of the host hotels), and Orpheum Theatre. Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, and Jim McPherson, Arizona Advisor to the National Trust, joined them for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in Heritage Square Park (a large outdoor venue that could serve as the opening reception for the 2,500-plus attendees of the 2012 conference).

Phoenix's historic Ellis Shackelford House was decked out in the colors of Arizona's state flag. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

On Tuesday, Adams and Feinman started off the day by visiting the historic San Carlos Hotel and breakfast at Palette in the Roosevelt Historic District.  Then it was a “timed-to-the minute” whirlwind van tour of First Presbyterian Church, Security Building (and ASU’s PURL overlooking the city), Monroe School (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), Phoenix Union High School Buildings (University of Arizona College of Medicine), Steele Indian School Park, Heard Museum, and several midtown residential historic districts.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison and Modern Phoenix Founder Alison King joined the group for lunch and tour of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.  Then it was off to drive by the Wrigley Mansion, and visit the Desert Botanical Garden, Gammage Auditorium, Pueblo Grande National Historic Landmark, and St. Mary’s Basilica.  Special guests “popped in” throughout the day to say hello, provide their perspective on preservation, and tout Phoenix as a conference site: Attorney General Terry Goddard (Palette), State Senator Debbie McCune Davis (UA College of Medicine), City of Phoenix Council Member Greg Stanton (Children’s Museum), attorney Grady Gammage (Gammage Auditorium), former Phoenix mayor John Driggs, and Arizona 2012 Centennial director Karen Churchard.

Dan Klocke (Downtown Phoenix Partnership), Charles Fortenberry (Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers), John Jacquemart (Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee), and G.G. George (Encanto Citizens Association). (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

Topping off the visit was a reception at the Ellis Shackelford House in downtown Phoenix.  Over 60 preservation advocates from all over the Valley (and Sierra Vista!), city officials, and downtown business group leaders attended.  A balloon arch, special signage, decorations, and flowers in the colors of Arizona’s state flag welcomed our guests from the National Trust.  City of Phoenix Council Member Michael Nowakowski, Garrison, Stocklin, Feinman, and McPherson said a few words, and the rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other’s company and dining on wonderful hors d’oeuvres from Catered by St. Joseph’s.  Gift bags courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office and City of Phoenix were presented to Adams and Feinman, and each attendee received a small gift as well.

Council decides on Chinatown Building, Asian Museum

Phoenix City Council at its December 14, 2005 hearing sided primarily with the real estate developer and ignored most of the pleas of the Chinese- and Asian-American and historic preservation communities to preserve the historic 1920s Chinatown Sun Mercantile Building and set aside 4,500 square feet of space for a history museum.  The council allowed the developer to build 11-stories of condominiums through and above the Sun Merc.  In addition, in hopes of pleasing the Chinese- and Asian-American communities, it required the developer to set aside 1,000 square feet of space inside the Sun Merc and 1,000 square feet of space outside the Sun Merc for exhibits and displays for museum use, and required the developer to donate $75,000 over two years to the newly created Arizona Asian American Museum Foundation.

Rally, Lion Dance.  The day began with a rally outside next to the council chambers by supporters of saving the Sun Merc.  Over 100 supporters attended the rally where a pair of traditional Chinese lion dancers performed to bring good luck to and drive away evil spirits from the city council hearing.  Supporters held up signs in English, Chinese, and other Asian languages to save the Sun Merc and for an Asian museum.  They were heard chanting “save Sun Merc, save Sun Merc, save Sun Merc.”  It was quite a scene, with television, radio and newspaper reporters present to record the moment.  Barry Wong, Chairman of the Save SunMerc Coalition, gave remarks energizing supporters in advance of the council’s hearing.

Council Hearing: Community Leaders Speak.  The City Council started its hearing at 5 p.m. to address the Sun Merc matter.  By way of background, the luxury hotel and condominium developer had appealed the prior decision of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission that favored the historic preservation and Asian American communities.  The Commission required the developer to remove from its plans the 11-stories above the Sun Merc and that at least 4,500 square feet of space be reserved for use by the Asian American community for history museum use.  Nearly 200 supporters of saving the Sun Merc and setting aside space for an Asian American museum attended the hearing, mostly Chinese- and Asian-Americans.  Also, 30-some members of the Chinese Senior Citizens Association, led by its president, Mr. Wen, made a special trip to attend the hearing.  This issue, for the first time, galvanized the Chinese- and Asian-American communities to attend and protest their city government elected leaders to take action in support of their community.

After city staff and the developer’s representatives spoke, Barry Wong was called up by the mayor to testify and make an opening statement on behalf of the Save SunMerc Coalition, followed by Jim McPherson, President of the Arizona Preservation Foundation.

The public was later given the opportunity to comment as well.  Many Chinese- and Asian-American community leaders stepped forward to speak, including Dr. Pearl Tang, wife of the late Hon. Thomas Tang, former Phoenix Vice Mayor and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit; Eddie Yue, President, Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix; Eva Li, president, OCA/Phoenix Chapter; Arif Kazmi, President, Arizona Asian American Association; Annie White, Overseas Chinese Woman’s Club; John Tang, past president, Chinese United Association; Doris Ong, member, Board of Trustees, Phoenix Art Museum; and Virginia Chang, President, Desert Jade Woman’s Club.

Decision, Future Action.  After nearly three hours of testimony, the city council discussed the issue and rendered its decision.  After the decision was announced, the developer still would not commit to the 1,000 square feet designated for inside the Sun Merc and wanted the council to place more restrictions on how the Arizona Asian American Museum Foundation could use the developer-required donation of money.  Supporters of Sun Merc in the audience were disappointed with the council’s decision, then booed and groaned upon hearing the offensive, non-committal statement from the developer.  The Save SunMerc Coalition will meet with their legal advisors to decide whether to appeal the council’s decision to court.

Save SunMerc Coalition was formed and has been working daily since early October 2005, in conjunction with the Arizona Preservation Foundation and other historic preservation groups, to preserve Sun Merc and secure space for a museum.  Core members of the Coalition are Barry Wong, Eddie Yue, John Tang, Dr. Pearl Tang, Arif Kazmi, Doris Ong, Lani Wo, past president, Chinese United Association, Arnold Wo and Chantri Sukpon Beck, President, Thai-American Friendship Organization.

Photos and footage of Phoenix City Council “hearing” on Sun Merc

Thanks to Ed Sharpe of the Glendale Daily Planet, the Phoenix City Council meeting of December 14, 2005 was filmed (apparently city government doesn’t film regular council meetings for later broadcast on Channel 11; only policy sessions). 

Click here to access the unedited footage and photos from the public rally and hearing where the fate of the historic Sun Mercantile Building in downtown Phoenix was debated.