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.

Coming Soon: the new Irish Cultural Center library

Irish Cultural Center library renderingThe Irish Cultural Center, located at Hance Park, is expanding its facilities by adding a three-story library.

The Phoenix New Times has more:

A major addition is in the works at the Irish Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix. A flurry of construction has been taking place over the past few months on a castle-like, $3.5 million research library that will be located in the center.

Current plans for the castle-like project include such design features as plenty of ramparts, parapets, and bulwarks, giving the library the appearance of a medieval-style fortress. (No word on whether or not they’re also planning on building a moat.)

The three-story building, which will be finished in January, will feature 15,000 square feet of space for research purposes and a variety of Irish-oriented classes and workshops.

Read more here. With the renovations coming to the remainder of Hance Park, this will be a very pleasant addition to the area.


A Perspective on Downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park

[Source: Seth Anderson, Boy Meets Blog]

In 2005 the Phoenix New Times awarded one if it’s prestigious “Best of…” awards to Hance Park. Hance Park won the award for Best Place to Meet a Crack Dealer. Sigh. Under-utilization and misuse of parks is not unique only to Phoenix, it’s a huge problem in this country.

There are very few parks that actually function the way they should. (For more detailed information I refer you to Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.)

This particular downtown park is named after Margaret Taylor Hance, the first woman to serve as mayor in Phoenix from 1976-1983. Interstate 10 now runs continuously through downtown Phoenix and stretches from Santa Monica to Jacksonville. But that wasn’t the case until 1990. In order to construct this freeway, the city demolished and wrecked parks of the Garfield, Coronado, and Roosevelt neighborhoods which I must say have never recovered from the gash that the freeway created. The freeway severed connectivity of the inner city neighborhoods. Sigh…

Above the tunnel the city created a 32.5 acre park (often called “Deck Park” because it sits atop the freeway) and is home to the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Irish Cultural Center.

This rendering is from 1989 and was the original vision of the park:

Notice all the green open space. It looks nothing like that today.

I also found this picture of a carrousel that was supposed to go into this park. It never did.

The park is now in a “visioning phase designed to bring the community together and provide a unified direction for a revised master plan of the park.” (Keeping in mind that the master plan was never realized to begin with.) I would love to see this park thrive and be a true source of pride for the city but for that to happen we need more people living near this park. There is enough vacant land around this area that could be redeveloped from vacant parking lot to mixed-use development. No amount of “visioning” will solve the problem of this park.

As Jane Jacobs wrote The Life and Death of Great American Cities, “You can neither lie to a neighbourhood park, nor reason with it. ‘Artist’s conceptions’ and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighbourhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use.”

The city has more info and some slides for viewing here.

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Mayor Gordon Kicks Off 5th Annual Old World Oktoberfest in Downtown Phoenix


Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will perform the traditional tapping of the keg, kicking off the 5th Annual Phoenix Old World Oktoberfest opening ceremonies at 12 noon, Saturday, October 9th, 2010 at Margaret T. Hance Park (1134 N. Central Ave. Phoenix 85004) in downtown Phoenix.

This year also marks the 200th Anniversary of the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, organized in celebration of the marriage of Bavarian King Ludwig I in 1810 as a “volksfest,” which has continued to this day as a popular annual tradition. In commemoration of this anniversary, a German couple (the bride is from Germany, and the groom is American of German descent) will be married across the street from the Phoenix Oktoberfest at Grace Lutheran Church in traditional attire and will lead a processional to the Oktoberfest event.

Phoenix Old World Oktoberfest is hosted by the Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures in partnership with members of Grace Lutheran Church in Phoenix. The purpose of the event is to reach out to the German community and introduce others to German culture and traditions. Funds raised by the event will be used to help build a Germanic Cultural Center and support German language education in the Valley. Grace Lutheran Church Outreach Ministries will also benefit from the proceeds of food sales, which will feature a traditional German pig roast with all the trimmings, as well as other favorites.

In addition to several varieties of imported German beer, provided by Warsteiner, festival guests can enjoy traditional German fare, including bratwursts, frankfurters, and roast pig, sauerkraut, apple strudel, pretzels and other specialties.

The authenticity of the event is enhanced by the musical entertainment, flown in from Germany especially for this occasion: Die Echten Waldbuam, who lead the crowd in traditional Oktoberfest sing-a-longs throughout the afternoon and evening.

This family-friendly event also includes a free Kinder Village featuring an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball pitch and other inflatables, plus games, contests and other interactive kids’ activities, free all day.

Attendees can also compete for fun and prizes in a variety of contests, including a Polka Dance Contest; “Best Dressed” of Oktoberfest; Sauerkraut Cooking Contest; Beer Stein Holding, and Alphorn Blowing for kids & adults. A raffle offers opportunities to win two roundtrip tickets to Europe, courtesy of Lufthansa and various other prizes.

Additional event sponsors include Henkel and Gundelsheim.

This Oktoberfest family event is truly Bavarian-style like the original in Munich — right down to details such as the long tables papered in Bavarian blue & white, where attendees can chat with neighbors and make new friends while singing along with old-time drinking songs.

The event is easily Light Rail accessible, from the Roosevelt stop. Admission is $5 for adults. Kids under 12 free. For more information visit or call (480) 947 PHXO (7490).

Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures ( created the annual Phoenix Old World Oktoberfest in 2006 as a way to introduce Arizonans and visitors to German culture and traditions, serve as a social outlet for the large and growing local Germanic community, and raise funds to build a Germanic Cultural Center, while supporting worthwhile local charities.

About Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures:

The Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures, Inc. is a not for profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to establishing a place for people of Germanic background to share their traditions, history, contributions, culture and celebrations with their fellow Americans.


5th Annual Phoenix Old World Oktoberfest or 480 947 PHXO
Saturday, October 9th, 2010 – 10 am to 9 pm
Margaret T. Hance Park, (on the deck tunnel/Moreland Ave, west of Third Street))
1134 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, Arizona 85004 (map)
Light Rail – Roosevelt stop
Admission: $5 (Free for children under 12)

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Share your opinion on a Skateboard Plaza in downtown Phoenix

Last week, this blog noted that the Rob Dyrdek Foundation has donated $50,000 to design and build a skate park in the City of Phoenix. At the time, Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski stated:

I’m thrilled to help bring a world-class skate course to my district. Residents have voiced concerns for additional recreational activities where they live and despite an economic downturn and budget cuts, we’re still able to create this opportunity for youth and families.

One of the sites that is seriously being considered is Hance Park.  It is downtown, pedestrian-friendly, accessible by numerous forms of public transit and near several schools and active neighborhoods.

Lafayette Skate Spot Rendering via Rob Dyrdek Foundation

City of Phoenix staff are looking for people express their opinions to the Parks Board at their next meeting, this Wednesday, September 1st, at 10AM.  The meeting will be held in the Parks Conference Room on the 16th floor of City Hall, 200 W. Washington.

For further information on the meeting, please call Marcia Wilson, Secretary, Parks and Recreation Department at 602-262-4993.

If you can not attend the meeting, you can share you opinion by sending an email to and your respective city council member.

Roosevelt neighborhood asks for increased security at Hance Park

Japanese Garden, Margaret T. Hance Park[Source: Andie Abkarian, Roosevelt Action Association] — As part of City of Phoenix budget cuts, the Parks Department has eliminated security in downtown’s Margaret T. Hance Park.  Out of $13,500,000 cut from the Parks budget, the Parks Department chose to eliminate overnight park security at Hance Park for an estimated cost savings of $50,000.  The neighborhood was told that the Police Department will monitor security at the park as part of their regular patrol, but neighbors are concerned that (1) Phoenix police officers are already overwhelmed with regular patrols and (2) there is no way Phoenix police officers can adequately keep the park safe without dedicated foot patrols into the depths of the park throughout the night.

The Roosevelt Action Association asks interested persons to ASAP call and/or e-mail the following representatives requesting an immediate reversal of this decision.  On May 20, RAA representatives will meet with city staff.

For more information on what you can do to help or for more details on the buget cut, send an e-mail or call Andie Abkarian (480-600-8826), Catrina Knobel (480-579-2998), or Mike Hall (602-258-6048).

Hance park security takes a budget hit

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — When Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department cut $15.5 million, it was only a matter of time before downtown parks began to feel the pain.  Among the laundry list of cuts was the $288,000 private security contract for six Phoenix parks, including Margaret T. Hance Park at 1134 N. Central Ave.  That and other budget cuts took effect in April, city officials say.

Roosevelt Action Association members have complained to the city about the lost security detail, but it doesn’t look like it will come back any time soon.  “I believe this decision (was) short sighted and injurious to our neighborhood,” wrote the group’s president Steve Brueckner in a neighborhood newsletter.  While the one man patrol “may not sound like much, this security made a significant difference in the number of crime- and drug- related incidents occurring in the park at night.  The patrol also did a great job of keeping people from spending the night in the park,” Brueckner wrote.

The night guard was one of many tough decisions, said assistant parks director Jim Burke.  The cuts included eliminating most of the city’s youth sports programs, which served 3,850 children last year.  “This is the new reality at the parks department,” Burke said.  When residents call with concerns, “We have to figure out how to make it as positive as possible,” he added.