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Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape to “top out,” despite shaky office space market

cityscape drawing-thumb-499x411[Source: Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will help celebrate the “topping out” of a new, city-subsidized office tower downtown this Thursday. With the state of the Valley’s office space market, though, we couldn’t help but wonder if the festivity will include a large, neon “Vacancy” sign for the roof.  Our suggestion elicits an honest chuckle from Jay Thorne, spokesman for the CityScape project.  “I can’t blame you for saying that,” says Thorne in a brief phone call this afternoon.

The building is scheduled to open in March.  Three months ago, it lost planned anchor tenant Wachovia Bank.  Office space vacancy is expected to reach 24 percent in the Valley this year, according to a June Associated Press article.  However, CityScape is doing way better than average in filling its 620,000 square feet of space, Thorne says.  “It’s pushing towards 70 percent leased,” he says.  “It’s a pretty nice success story.”

Of course, part of that success comes after last year’s downsizing of the whole project.  One thousand condo units and a hotel are among the plans that blew away with the dustbowl-like housing market. [Note: Read the full article at Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape to “top out,” despite shaky office space market]

View Malls R Us documentary, 6/30, downtown Phoenix

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For more information, click here.

“Malls R Us” documentary to be aired, downtown Phoenix, June 30

Downtown Voices Coalition, Modified Arts, and No Festival Required present “Malls R Us,” a documentary film by Helene Klodawsky:

  • Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
  • Time: 8 p.m. (doors at 7:45 p.m.)
  • Place: Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix
  • Admission: $6 ($1 off with student ID)

Combining nostalgia, dazzling architecture, pop culture, economics, and politics, “Malls R Us” examines North America’s most popular and profitable suburban destination — the enclosed shopping center — and how for consumers they function as a communal, even ceremonial experience and, for retailers, sites where their idealism, passion, and greed merge.

Light rail attracts small business to uptown Phoenix

[Source: Kevin Tripp/KTAR] — It’s hip, it’s hot, and it’s not a shopping mall — one uptown Phoenix neighborhood is bucking the recession.  Right where the light rail line makes its turn at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, several new, locally-owned businesses are opening.  Daniel Wayne is renovating a shop on Central, just south of Camelback.  It will open next month as Lola Coffee.  Wayne said the area has an important feature: “When I first came to look at this space, I walked in and I could look out on Central and the light rail went by.  That helped me with my decision, it feels like a city.”

Just up Central, Postino Wine Cafe is brand new — and already packed.  Partner Craig DeMarco thinks the neighborhood will be a prime location for years to come.  “I think it’s going to be the hot spot of the whole Valley,” DeMarco said.

Wayne said light rail makes the area more pedestrian friendly. “That’s the vision, I think, of everyone around here — to be able to just enjoy your neighborhood…  The goal in any city is to be pedestrian friendly and that’s what it’s coming to — where you can walk out of your place because there’s a lot of living space around here and be able to say, ‘Let’s go for coffee, let’s go for a drink, let’s go for dessert.'”

DeMarco agrees.  “I think it (light rail) brought a lot more attention to the neighborhood.  I’d been using it, so I was more familiar in noticing the great architecture and the great landscaping and just the great neighbors in general.”

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said 44 new businesses have opened up in central Phoenix because of light rail and that the space available signs are beginning to disappear.  “If you take a look at the for rent or for sale signs along light rail, there’s very few now, and we’re starting to see smaller businesses,” said Gordon.

No mention of downtown Phoenix by Westcor (is that good or bad?)

SanTan Village[Source: Cathryn Creno, Arizona Republic, June 11, 2008] — Westcor, the Valley’s largest mall company, turns 40 next year.  Like many mid-lifers, the company believes it is experienced enough to capitalize on opportunities and challenges by developing a long-term strategy and sticking to it.  It presently is spending about $1 billion on projects ranging from renovation of older malls like Metrocenter and Scottsdale Fashion Square to the continued development of the SanTan Village regional lifestyle center in Gilbert.  And Westcor also is pondering what it might be doing 40 years in the future: Developing green buildings; fashioning centers that incorporate bus routes and condo towers; and capitalizing on relationships with retailers that could be the Macy’s or JC Penneys of tomorrow. 

Westcor faces the same challenges as other businesses – rising costs of fuel, materials, and labor, said Garrett Newland, a Westcor VP for development.  But Newland and other Westcor officials said this week that the current economic slump has not reduced the pace any of its redevelopment projects and only has slowed development of one regional center, Estrella Falls in Goodyear.  “We aren’t ‘spec-ing,'” said development VP Scott Nelson, in reference to a practice by some companies that build first and hope retailers will lease space later on.  “We are building space that has been pre-leased.”  Newland said Westcor also is “already looking at sites further out” than SanVan (sic) Village and Estrella Falls, although concrete plans for those areas may not be ready for years. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]