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Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Chairman Keuth and Planning Commission Members:

The Artists Issues Task Force has been working on the Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay for over two years now, and we think we have come up with a reasonable and balanced plan that will make it easier for the arts and small business uses to prosper and grow in downtown Phoenix.  The Task Force is comprised of artists, residents, developers, small business owners, the non-profit sector, and representatives from many city departments.  There have been numerous public meetings throughout this lengthy process and the overlay language has been continually altered to address issues raised by both community members and city staff.

The model we have developed has been influenced by successful districts around the country: vibrant downtown with a concentration of interesting small business, art, and cultural activities that contribute to the economic development and overall health of a city’s artistic and cultural life.  These districts attract residents and visitors alike, and are times key in a company or corporation’s decision to locate to a particular city.  Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle, New York, and other great cities have multiple character districts that define and make those cities truly unique and major destinations — and competitive on a global scale.

As Phoenix grows and becomes increasingly dense, we will continue to face the challenges that growth brings.  However, one of our biggest challenges will be retaining our creative and small business community and remaining competitive with not only other peer cities around the world, but with other rapidly growing cities around the Valley.  We feel this overlay will be a key component in helping downtown Phoenix maintain a competitive edge with other vibrant creative sectors, and will prove vital in promoting the “small wonders” that will ultimately bring a balance to the successful large projects that have been completed or are currently underway downtown.

We respectfully request that you support the February 11, 2008 recommendation of the Central City Village Planning Committee approving the proposed Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay.  On behalf of the Artist’s Issues Task Force, we are

Sincerely yours,

Sloane Burwell, Artlink, Inc.
Reid Butler, Butler Housing Company
Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC
Steven Helffrich, Studio Architecture
Dana Johnson, Garfield Organization
Kim Moody, Alwun House
Beatrice Moore, La Melgosa, L.L.C.
Steve Weiss, Downtown Voices Coalition

Garfield concerned about 7th St. & Van Buren project

[Source: Kim Moody, Garfield Organization] – Because the Form Based Code has not yet been formally adopted by the Phoenix City Council, some developers are taking buildings to the sidewalk (literally).  Garfield, like other downtown neighborhoods, is again being hit with another project, this time at the northeast corner of 7th St. and Van Buren.

The developer of the six-story biomedical facility with a six-story parking structure, The Plaza Companies, is asking the City of Phoenix for ZERO set-back and proposes “dumping” their traffic onto Polk and 9th St.  Neighbors are concerned and upset traffic will come and go through residential streets.  Among the other variances requested is minimal landscaping (going against the City’s push for pedestrian-friendly, shade corridors).

A hearing on this matter will take place at 10 a.m., Feb. 5 in Hearing Room “C” at City Hall.  For more information, contact Dana Johnson with the Garfield Organization.  For more information about Form Based Codes, contact Dean Brennan with the City of Phoenix Planning Department