Blog Archives

Hance Park Master Plan Design Team is announced

300308_591530424193170_1324452721_nEarlier today, the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department announced their recommendation for the Hance Park Master Plan RFQ (Request for Qualifications). The four finalist firms were Weddle & Gilmore (from Scottsdale), Stoss Landscape Urbanism (Boston, Mass.), Gould Evans (Phoenix), and West 8 Urban Design (Rotterdam, Netherlands). The recommendation went to Weddle & Gilmore, having scored the most points on the City’s scoring criteria.

Joining Weddle & Gilmore are the following firms with expertise in various areas:

  • !melk (landscape architecture) – New York, N.Y.
  • Floor Associates (landscape architecture) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • HR&A Advisors (development advisory) – New York, N.Y.
  • ETM Associates (public space design) – Highland Park, N.J.
  • City Activators Inc. – New York, N.Y.
  • Rider Levett Bucknall (construction project management) – global
  • Pentagram (visual design) – London / New York, N.Y.
  • Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Public Workshop (youth involvement in urban design) – Philadelphia, Penn.
  • David Evans & Associates (land development design) – Portland, Ore.
  • Buro Happold (environmental engineering) – Bath, England, U.K.
  • IAS Labs (soil analysis) – Tempe, Ariz.
  • Artistic Arborist (tree management) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • RAMM (geotechnical engineering) – Tempe, Ariz.

We look forward to working with Weddle & Gilmore as well as these other organizations to make Hance Park a world-class park.

Modified Arts energizes downtown Phoenix

[Source: Sarah Spencer, Phoenix Arts and Crafts Examiner]

Modified Arts on Roosevelt Row in Phoenix is rooted in the indie spirit of Downtown Phoenix. It calls attention to the community through art shows and musical performances from all over the world. The new directors, husband-and-wife team Kim Larkin and Adam Murray, bring a fresh approach to art and performance in the downtown area.

Larkin and Murray took over Modified Arts in late 2009 from Kimber Lanning. Larkin earned an art history degree from the University of Utah and has experience running art galleries, while Murray supports the audio end of Modified with his audio engineering degree and passion for new music and media.

The freshly remodeled space opened in January 2010, and now hosts national and international art and musical shows. In order to preserve the history in the making, a new website archives past performances and interviews. Current exhibition information can also be found online: modifiedarts.org.

The space will continue to shape the downtown Phoenix art scene. Says Larkin, “We want to make Modified a sophisticated contemporary arts experience with visual art, performance, and music that fits well in the space, while not taking away that raw DIY energy that exists on Roosevelt Row.”

Visit Modified Arts: 407 E. Roosevelt St. Phoenix, AZ 85004 (map) or at www.modified.org

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MALLS R US returns Feb. 28, Phoenix Art Museum

MALLS R US: A contemplative investigation on mall culture and effect by Helene Klodawsky

  • Date: Sunday, February 28, 2010
  • Time: 1 p.m. (doors at 12:30 p.m.)
  • Place: Whiteman Hall, Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004
  • Free Admission (ask for pass at front desk)
  • Film introduction by Kimber Lanning, Director, Local First Arizona

MALLS R US discusses the psychological appeal of malls to consumers, how architects design their environments to combine consumerism with nature and spectacle, how suburban shopping centers impart social values, and how malls are transforming the traditional notions of community, social space and human interaction.

As entertaining as it is informative, MALLS R US offers a trip to the mall like no other, reveling in their architectural splendor as consumerist paradises but also showing how the social dynamism they represent can be a destructive force, one that confuses the good life with the world of goods.  And yes Arizona, you will recognize several local sites.

Co-presented by No Festival Required; sponsored by CityCircles

Advocacy group stresses importance of local companies

[Source: Luci Scott, Arizona Republic] — For every $100 spent in a chain store, $13 remains in the state.  For every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $45 remains in the state.  That’s the message delivered at a Tempe Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday by Kimber Lanning, director of Local First Arizona, an advocacy group promoting local companies.  Chandler officials are well aware of the benefits of local buying; the city began a Shop Chandler campaign this year.  Lanning said the figures came out of an Austin-based Civic Economics Study in 2002.

Lanning, owner of Stinkweeds music store in central Phoenix, said Local First Arizona is starting a campaign to persuade people and companies to shift 10 percent of their spending toward locally owned businesses.  That shift would result in 1,600 new jobs and $15 million in new local wages, she said.

Although national chains employ people too, they don’t give to local charities at the same rate, Lanning said.  And local companies hire other local business people such as attorneys, CPAs, sign makers, and Web designers.  Lanning commended the utility APS for recently signing a contract for supplies with Wist Office Products of Tempe rather than using a national chain.

Lanning said the idea that local is more expensive is a myth.   In comparing prices, she discovered, for example, that a big bag of dog food was $4.30 less at the Noble Beast on Camelback Road than at a big box.  In some cases, the big boxes are cheaper, she said, but “they’ve convinced us it doesn’t pay to shop around.”  She encouraged the audience to, when they’re in the dairy section of a supermarket, to buy locally by picking up Hickmans’ eggs and Shamrock milk.

Supporting local independent businesses not only keeps more money in the area, it also promotes a sense of community and enriches the culture, she said.  “People are living here and telling how great it is where they came from,” she said.  “When you move to Phoenix, you shop in big boxes and eat at national chains, and never feel connected to Phoenix… They’re still from Des Moines even though they’ve lived here 20 years.”  Lanning said when Arizonans go to Chicago, they return talking about the great local pizza place they found; they don’t come back raving about Applebee’s. 

Buying locally and creating a sense of community would help keep young, creative people in Arizona, she said.  “Of the top 10 percent of our graduates, 98 percent leave.  The bottom 50 percent all stay.”

In terms of promoting local procurement, Arizona rates low nationally.  Arizona is one of only three states that doesn’t give preference in purchasing to local businesses, Lanning said.  The other two states are Mississippi and Michigan.  Because other states are loyal to their own, Arizona contractors can be put at a disadvantage, she said.  “Kitchell and Sundt can’t get contracts in California, Nevada and Utah, because those states favor the home team,” she said.  Giving preference to companies in Arizona would also help lure business to the state.  “They look whether they’re going to be favored,” she said.  “We’re thinking like it’s 1985 in terms of economic development,” she said. “We need to shift our thinking.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit Advocacy group stresses importance of local companies.]

Changes in management, direction afoot at downtown Phoenix’s Modified Arts

Modified Arts, Phoenix (Photo credit: kontaktmag)

[Source: Martin Cizmar, Phoenix New Times] — Kimber Lanning, the prominent Phoenix record store owner turned community activist, has released a statement saying she plans to step away from her Roosevelt Row gallery/venue, Modified Arts.  Lanning has become more and more involved in big-time community planning issues in recent years and says she plans to retain ownership of the building, but will put a husband and wife team of Kim Larkin and Adam Murray in charge of the to-be-renovated gallery.

Here’s the really bad news: “[T]he big, indie rock shows you’ve come to know and love at Modified will have to find another home.  The programming will be changing to better accommodate a gallery, so the slant will be more experimental and progressive.”  Modified Arts as it exists now will close the second weekend in December and re-open with a new look in late January.  Uh-oh.  As the space — just for starters — employs the best bouncer in Phoenix and housed the best little show of the year, there’s good reason to wonder just how big of a disaster this will be for the Phoenix music scene.

[Note: Read the full article, Kimber Lanning’s full statement, and online comments at Changes in management, direction afoot at downtown Phoenix’s Modified Arts.]

Independent restaurants aim to Devour Phoenix

[Source: Lynn Ducey, Phoenix Business Journal] — A handful of Valley restaurateurs and Local First Arizona are banding together to promote independent eateries across metro Phoenix through a new group called Devour Phoenix.  Local First Arizona is a grassroots nonprofit aimed at supporting homegrown companies and encouraging state residents to do the same.

A handful of entrepreneurs and chefs have formed a steering committee to put the Devour Phoenix idea into motion.  The fledgling effort has yet to map out a to-do list, but organizers say they could tackle everything from a restaurant crawl and shared advertising to pooled purchasing power on restaurant supplies.  “I think it’s really important that people realize there are great eating establishments in Phoenix.  We offer original ideas and different concepts,” said Arizona Sen. Ken Cheuvront, a steering committee member and owner of Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar on Central Avenue in Phoenix.  [Note: Read the full article at Independent restaurants aim to Devour Phoenix and Phoenix New Times’ coverage of the same.]

Out until 2 a.m.? Toast new Phoenix light rail hours

[Source: Sean Holstege and Megan Finnerty, Arizona Republic] — Valley residents and business owners will get their wish for late-night, light-rail service today when Metro starts running weekend trains until the early-morning hours.  For Friday- and Saturday-night revelers and other late travelers, the shift means that the last trains will pull out of the end-of-line stations about 3:15 a.m. rather than 12:15 a.m.  Night owls can catch a train along the 20-mile route until about 3:30 a.m.  The last trains run only about halfway down the line.  The final weekend trains running the entire length leave at about 2 a.m.

Patrons, business owners and civic promoters see the longer hours as an opportunity for downtown Phoenix and Tempe’s Mill Avenue to prove they can achieve the kind of exciting nightlife other big cities have.  Bar and restaurant patrons will have less of a reason to go home early and less of a need to appoint a designated driver, unless they’re using park-and-ride lots.  Those needs hinder the area’s ability to generate business and street life, some patrons say.  “I think they should have done this in the first place,” said Josh Agustin, 33, bar manager at Pasta Bar, one of downtown Phoenix’s newest restaurants.  “The lack of light rail is the biggest complaint I hear.  I think that a lot of people leave the downtown early because of light rail (hours).  Now, people will come in later.”

Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said the service also will help late-night workers and downtown concertgoers by giving them another way to get home.   “People are overwhelmingly excited about it,” Foose said.  “(Still) it’s hard to say what reception this late-night service will receive.”

To help promote the change, Kimber Lanning, director of non-profit Local First Arizona, is working with downtown music destinations to offer discounts for concerts and other incentives for riding light rail.  Various bar and restaurant owners are planning similar promotions.  Local First Arizona promotes doing business with companies based in the state.  Metro plans to run extended weekend hours indefinitely but has enough federal money to pay for only the first year of extra service, which costs an estimated $250,000.  The Regional Public Transportation Authority hiked fares sharply on Wednesday because of rising costs and declining municipal sales-tax revenue, which helps finance the system.   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

RadiatePhx event at The Lost Leaf, June 30

radiatephx[Source: Catrina Knoebl, RadiatePHX] — Join RadiatePHX in celebration of National Independents Week, June 29 through July 5.  Celebrating with us will be Local First Arizona Director, Kimber Lanning. She’ll be our guide to the week and share how we can continue to support the cause by tapping into Local First’s directory, Golden Coupons, and more.

  • Date: Tuesday, June 30
  • Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.; panel discussion will start a little after 6 p.m.
  • Place: The Lost Leaf, 914 N. 5th Street, Phoenix, AZ

Radiators will also receive $1 off the 8 p.m. Tuesday evening showing of documentary film “Malls R Us” at Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt St.

Then make a night of it!  We will be gathering at The Lost Leaf for beverage refreshment so everyone can head out afterward and visit nearby independent restaurants in our own downtown.  You will be invited to forward your own brief restaurant review (“We had a terrific burger and the best margaritas!”) by the end of Independents Week and they will be posted on the RadiatePhoenix site and on DowntownPhoenixJournal.com for all to see.

Click here to RSVP.  For more information about RadiatePHX, click here.

Recap of inaugural Jane’s Walk in downtown Phoenix

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Jane's Walk walkers gather at Portland Park.

[Source: Yuri Artibise] — The inaugural Jane’s Walk Phoenix was a huge success.  Over thrity people took advantage of the nice weather to come out and celebrate Jane Jacobs and learn more about the neighborhoods of downtown phoenix.  The initimate size of the group allowed people to meet one another and share stories, history, and gossip about the streets, parks, and buildings that we passed during the walk.

Special thanks goes to Catrina Knoebl, Greg Esser, and Kimber Lanning for sharing their knowledge and insights along the route, as well as all the particpants for their great questions and observations.  As I’ve said from the beginning, it’s the participants who are the true guides of the walk.  Special thanks also to Jack London, Nick Bastien (Rail Life), and David Bickford (PHXRailFood) for taking photos along the way.   [Note: To read the full recap, click here.]

Phoenix: Love it or leave it

[Source: Jessica VanZalen, ASU Web Devil] — A half-eaten sucker rests on the edge of a wall outside the Chase building.  Dirty, plastic news distribution boxes line the street corner.  Hordes of people crowd the bus stop.  To an untrained eye, downtown Phoenix appears as a juxtaposition of oddities and buildings in the middle of a desert.  Here is a city with huge sports venues, art districts, and unique small businesses that is determined to gain attention not only on a national scale, but also from local residents.

Yes, the fifth largest city in the United States is struggling to gain recognition and establish itself as a noteworthy attraction of the valley that surrounds it.  Simply venturing to the city for a sporting event may only give the appearance of closed-down storefronts and warehouses, palm tree-spattered streets, and a few tall buildings — less than enticing visual attractions.

With a desire to gain appreciation from Valley residents and visitors from afar, the city is taking the steps to educate people on all downtown has to offer, to encourage people to look beneath the surface and see the shops and restaurants hidden in the crevices.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]