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Midtown News: New Development

This comes to us from the Midtown Museum District:

Land Use Proposal at 3550 N Central Ave (between Walgreens and Alexi’s) Z-39-13-4 This is a large residential and commercial project proposed for the site. It extends from Central to 2nd Avenue.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 17.10.37

This comes before the Encanto Village Planning Committee on Monday November 4 at 6:15pm at the Phoenix College Willo Conference Room, Flower & 11th Ave. This room is not easy to find. It is at the NW corner of Flower and 11th Ave, the first walkway at the south end of the complex.

With development activity picking up, it’s good to make your voice heard in the process.

High-rise living in Central Phoenix

[Source: Kara G. Morrison, The Arizona Republic]

Central Corridor condo market shows signs of revival

One Lexington. Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic

When Michael Hauer decided to buy a home, the 25-year-old looked for something with architectural flair close to his midtown-Phoenix office.

In December, he chose a 734-square-foot condo in One Lexington, a high-rise on Central and Lexington avenues.

Once called Century Plaza, the steel-and-glass former commercial building went through bankruptcy during the housing collapse, and the new owner cut condo prices by about half.

Less than a year after One Lexington restarted sales, more than 70 percent of its 145 units are sold or under contract.

Hauer thinks his new home is a good investment at $181,950 plus a $299 monthly HOA fee (based on his unit’s square footage), which he’ll start paying at the end of the year.

Such luxury-condo developments, meant to capture buyers wanting an urban lifestyle with access to Metro light rail and Phoenix’s burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, are showing signs of life after the housing crisis sent several such properties into bankruptcy.

Will Daly, a Phoenix broker who specializes in urban properties and lives in a midtown-Phoenix high-rise, said he’s starting to see an uptick in interest for high-rise and urban-living options.

“The urban-condo market in Phoenix is relatively small and relatively new,” he said. As the economy picks up, he says, “it seems like some major pieces are now in place for development to continue along light rail and in downtown Phoenix.”

Mini urban mansions

Just down the road from One Lexington at Central Avenue and Palm Lane (just north of the Phoenix Art Museum) is another luxury development that went through months of financial turmoil but is back on the market under new ownership.

Chateau on Central is a development of 21 luxury townhomes that looks like miniature brick castles, complete with turrets. These Queen Anne Victorian-style townhomes boast 5,200 square feet of living space or more on five floors.

The homes went on the market for $1.389 million to $2.459 million in December (plus a $575 monthly HOA fee), when the new developers unveiled two model homes decorated by the Scottsdale design firm Est Est.

None of the units has sold yet.

Prices are about half of the townhomes’ original asking price of $2.8 million to $4.5 million in 2007.

MSI West Investments bought the 21-townhouse development for $7 million last year after its financer, Mortgages Ltd., declared bankruptcy.

Each home has four floors plus a basement, a private four-person elevator, a two-car garage, a top-floor terrace and balconies.

There are no shared community amenities, such as gyms, swimming pools or cigar clubs, at Chateau. Joe Morales, a real-estate agent with Arizona Great Estates-Realty One Group, said that’s because luxury buyers prize privacy over shared spaces. All the townhomes are zoned as work/live spaces, so buyers could set up professional offices in the basement or on the first floor.

Morales said he may seek a light-commercial buyer, such as a high-end restaurant or law firm, for the largest townhome: an 8,252-square-foot corner property on Central Avenue, currently listed at $2.459 million.

Sell vs. rent

One Lexington and Chateau on Central are bucking a trend. Other developers are putting rental signs on luxury and high-rise urban properties built during the height of the market and meant to sell as luxury condos. The 44 Monroe building in downtown Phoenix and West Sixth, formerly called Centerpoint in Tempe, are two such properties whose units will be leased rather than sold.

Two years ago, Daly, the Phoenix broker, conducted bus tours, taking dozens of urban-living enthusiasts to see high-rises and new condo developments around the Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe city centers. The economy put many of those developments, and his tours, on hiatus.

Today, Daly said he’s getting more inquiries from out-of-towners looking for investment properties and second homes. And Valley residents are asking when his tours will resume.

“Right now, it’s just a matter of time and energy,” he said. “I think we’ll be firing them up again in the next two to three months.”

For Hauer, an architect in training with Gabor Lorant Architects, the clean lines of the contemporary One Lexington building won out over some older downtown high-rise properties he considered.

Remaining units at One Lexington (owned by the Macdonald Development Corp.) range from $165,400 to $981,900 for a two-story, 2,846-square-foot penthouse.

“The finishes were a big part of it,” Hauer said, listing the Caesarstone countertops, stainless-steel Bosch appliances, bamboo floors and modern kitchen cabinetry.

The building’s amenities include a pool, gym, community room, parking and a small dog run, which comes in handy for Hauer’s longhaired Chihuahua, Margarita.

Hauer said he also enjoys sitting on his small 14th-floor balcony, looking north over the stunning midtown Phoenix skyline and the distant mountains, reading his iPad.

“That’s the icing on the cake,” he said.

Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner in Downtown Phoenix

Feasting on Phoenix: Creating Community over Food and Place

[Excerpts from a post originally published on]

There’s something special about sitting down over a meal and how it brings people together and forms a special bond between them. This is what happens at the Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner (PSF) every month. This event started about a year ago by some dedicated Phoenix residents who were craving community, Yuri Artibise, Kathleen Bartolomei, Jim McPherson, Marshall Shore and Taz Loomans.

PSF is not an exclusive club where you need some sort of membership to attend. It’s open to the public. It’s a way to get together with your fellow Valley residents and share some things with them: your time, your food, your stories, your presence, your self. It’s a way of saying, hello, how are you, my name is…to new people in a beloved setting in the city.

January’s Dinner

When: Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Where: After Hours Gallery – 116 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ (between N. 3rd Ave. & 1st Ave.); West of Light Rail station: Central/McDowell

Organizers: Yuri Artibise, Joseph Cuevas and Julie Zagars

Theme: Come “C” What’s Cookin’!

Co-mingle with comrades and come celebrate our city over courses of communal cuisine! Cue the “Sesame Street” theme song: this month’s Places, Spaces, & Faces potluck event is brought to you by the letter “C.”

Feel free to interpret this concept creatively. “C” can stand for Casseroles, Carrots, Cookies, or Cucumbers. Think Cake, Corn, and Calamari. Serve your creation on a Cake Stand, in a Carafe, or atop a Chia Pet. Consider Chicken, Cheese and Cashews. And Chocolate (after all, January 22nd is National Blond Brownie Day). Oh, and definitely Cocktails!

As usual, there will be a people’s choice vote to determine three prize winners in the categories of “top savory dish,” “everyone’s favorite dessert,” and “the evening’s best beverage.” After Hours Gallery permits alcohol so feel free to play with booze in your shared dish or drink.

Last names A-I: a drink
Last names J-R: savory
Last names S-Z: sweet

*Plus appropriate serving spoons/forks/tongs.

Please bring your own plate, cup, napkin, and silverware. We’ll again utilize a buffet setup, like we did with December’s dinner. Please label your shared savory/sweet/liquid contribution to share and highlight any prospective allergens (particularly if you are working with alcohol).

Speakers: Our speakers will include gallery owners Mike and Russ, plus Scott Roeder, After Hours construction project manager. Photographer John Wagner will also speak about his exhibit “SALT,” featuring photographs from the Bonneville Salt Flats currently on display at the gallery

More information/RSVP HERE.

Midtown Phoenix’s Heard Museum shows its 3rd Friday holiday spirit

[Source: Kate Crowley, Heard Museum]

Luminaria, Choir Music and Apache Storytelling

The Heard Museum’s free Third Friday evening series, NU (Native + You), continues on December 17 with offerings sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit. Find distinctively Arizona gifts in the Heard Museum Shop, wander the Heard Museum’s luminaria and candle lit campus and enjoy a hot beverage.

Outside, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. enjoy Classical guitar music by Manny Perez (Yaqui). At 7 and 8 p.m. guests can listen to traditional Apache storytelling with Ken Duncan (Apache) in the Berlin Gallery.

Guests can also enjoy two special holiday themed performances by the Xavier Preparatory College Honor Choir from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and 7:30 to 8 p.m. One choir performance will be inside the museum, while another performance will take place outside on the Heard Museum’s campus, which will be list by candles and luminaries.

The Café at the Heard Museum invites attendees to arrive early and enjoy a $5 gourmet taco bar from 6 to 8 p.m. Work by Rick Bartow, Fritz Scholder and Nathan Hart are part of the show “Transformation” in the Berlin Gallery.

From 5:30 to 9 p.m., the museum galleries, courtyard, IKEA lounge and cash bar are open as part of NU. There is no admission charge for NU and the museum during Third Friday evening.

Midtown Phoenix’s Heard Museum receives $2.6M in gifts

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]

Photo Credit: Daniel Greene on Flickr

A Carefree resident and a former Vice Chairman of the General Electric Co. has made a substantial gift to the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art, museum officials announced [Friday].

Jack S. Parker, 94, donated a $1 million cash annuity as well as his extensive collection of American Indian art estimated at $1.6 million, officials said.

The donation is the culmination of Parker’s long-standing support of the museum, which exceeds more than $3 million.

The most recent gift was marked with a gala celebration in Parker’s honor and the renaming of a museum gallery this past month. Now called the Jack Steele Parker Gallery, the gallery formerly was known as the Compas gallery and is home to the “Around the World: the Heard Museum Collection,” and includes items from Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

The donation was made through the Maie Bartlett Heard Society, the name of the museum’s planned giving program.

For more:

Midtown Phoenix’s MacAlpines Soda Fountain

[Source: Chelsea Brown, State Press Magazine]

7th Street Wonders. Photo by Chelsea Brown.

7th Street Wonders. Photo by Chelsea Brown.

Recently I discovered my new favorite vintage shop in downtown PhoenixMacAlpines Soda Fountain. Now, I know you must be thinking, why is there a vintage store in a soda fountain shop? Well let me fill you in — MacAlpines was established in 1928, offering fresh home-cooked meals. Nowadays the shop not only offers those made-to-order meals, but also strives to keep the memory of the 1950s and 60s alive with their multitude of vintage goods, malt shop sense-of-mind (the waitresses wear sweet old-school inspired malt shop uniforms), and a 1952 jukebox.

I should let it be known that I have driven past MacAlpines for years now (it’s located off of 7th Street, just before Thomas Road), and have always thought that it looked like a neat place, but for some odd reason never stopped to check it out. About a week ago, I was driving to another location on my Downtown Dispatch list, Urban Cookies, and once again saw the large MacAlpines sign and felt compelled to pull over and explore. (Writing this blog has seriously made me want to go out there and find more neat places to tell all of you about.)

I am happy to report that I did pull into the side street parking and finally took the plunge of venturing into MacAlpines, so now I can offer you a personal experience, rather than just a “you should go here because I heard it was neat” story.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, MacAlpines is my new favorite place to shop for vintage goods, as they seem to have everything you could be looking for — clothes, furniture, cookware, jewelry, funky art pieces, etc. While there last, I swooned over a gorgeous restored bicycle (see the back room in the store if you want to have a peek at it yourself), and found myself wanting to buy a pretty vintage Black Hills Silver ring that looked like a flower and had a piece of turquoise in the middle. (My boyfriend ended up buying it for me as a present!)

If you’re into purchasing vintage goods and clothing (vintage goods make for cute dorm room decorations, and when you buy vintage clothing you are almost guaranteed that you will be the only kid in class with that dress or sweet western shirt on), or even just like looking around at funky pieces from the past, you will certainly like MacAlpines.

Also, while there don’t forget to take a seat in their retro diner area and try one of their famous milkshakes, and maybe even one of their veggie-friendly entrees.

MacAlpines is open seven days a week (Monday through Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and is located at 2303 N. 7th Street.

Until next time!

Downtown Dispatch is dedicated to all things downtown Phoenix. If you’re looking for a new place to eat, you’ve found your guide. If you’re looking for a new boutique to shop at, I’ve got what you’re looking for. If you just want to find that perfect cup of coffee, I can tell you where to go. Welcome to the blog of Chelsea Brown, a Journalism senior, caffeine addict and self-proclaimed foodie who loves blogging and taking photographs. Reach me at

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Councilman Simplot!

Call him crazy, Tom Simplot is going Over The Edge for Special Olympics Arizona.

On November 10th, District 4 councilperson Tom Simplot will be rappelling from the 17th floor of the One Lexington condominiums in midtown Phoenix.

He is currently collecting pledges from family, friends and constituents who are not brave enough to go over the edge themselves.   Please help Tom reach his goal of at least $1000. All donations made are 100% tax deductible. All proceeds from this Over the Edge event will benefit Special Olympics Arizona.

Visit his event webpage for more information and to support this great cause.

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The Heard Museum gets a makeover

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]

Photo credit: Daniel Greene on Flickr

The Heard Museum is undergoing renovations and is using a recent Piper grant to help pay for the work.

The $300,000 project will include a coffee bar, shop and bookstore with a $150,000 from the Virginia G. Piper Trust helping to finance the renovation, said Heard spokeswoman Deb Krol.

The project will relocate and expand the museum’s bookstore and create a coffee bar and cantina, which will offer up drinks and food in a casual atmosphere. The Heard Museum Cafe will continue its operations as a full-service sit-down venue.

As part of the project, space will be created for live artist demonstrations, while the store will be able to feature more works from Native American artists.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year with the new area to open in 2011.

In addition to this project, the Heard’s auditorium is getting a head-to-toe renovation that will includes audio visual upgrades. A confidential financial gift from the late Marjorie Blum is financing that work, said Krol.

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A New Life for Downtown Phoenix’s Deck Park?

[Source: Connie Cone Sexton, The Arizona RepublicFeaturing a quotation from past DVC Chair, and current Secretary, Steve Weiss.

Photograph: Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic

Work is under way to pump new life into a 32-acre park that floats above the Deck Park Tunnel near downtown Phoenix.

City officials are dusting off the late 1980s original master plan and hope one day to find the money to see envisioned projects become real.

Twenty years ago this month, Valley residents flocked to the opening of the tunnel, a marvel of transportation engineering that cut a hole through a half-mile of central Phoenix real estate.

It was the final puzzle piece to finish Interstate 10 and create an unbroken 2,400-mile-plus stretch between California and Florida.

But the tunnel was also one of the biggest bonanzas for the city of Phoenix: a chance to create a park atop the portion of the Papago Freeway between Third Avenue and Third Street, just south of McDowell Road.

Thousands of homes had already been cleared when initial plans called for the highway segment to be aboveground.

Officials and area residents had grand plans for a sort of mini Central Park: Visitors to the Deck Park would be able to stroll through a grassy picnic area, pass through a grove of trees into a bustling urban plaza, snap a few pictures by the park’s fountains and carousel, then head for a concert at the outdoor amphitheater.

Since opening in 1992 as the renamed Margaret T. Hance Park, the site offers several amenities, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Irish Cultural Center and large expanses of grass, but it lacks the allure that city leaders hoped to see.

Downturns in the economy and constraints on the Phoenix budget kept the city from adding features like the amphitheater and carrousel. Although a handful of festivals are held outside the Burton Barr Central Library, which sits on the northern midpoint of the park, more are needed, observers say.

But with a resurgence of interest and activity in downtown Phoenix and new residents moving into surrounding historic homes, the time is right to take another look at the park, said Tom Bryne, a landscape architect for the city.

The potential for the site is great, he said, adding: “It has good bones but not a lot of attractions or things in the park to stimulate activity.”

A task force reviewing the park and neighbors say they’d like to see better lighting, maybe a dog park, coordination among the cultural groups to expand activities, a bike-rental shop, food vendors and canopies of shade.

Joan Kelchner, a member of the neighborhood Roosevelt Action Association, is excited that the city is starting what she calls “a very aggressive attempt to update the park.”

Kelchner, who moved into the Roosevelt Historic District adjacent to the park in 1984, hopes the new visioning of the park will spur the preservation of the city-owned Winship House, a historic building on the west side of the park.

She believes it will take private-public partnerships to truly ignite the master plan for Hance Park. Kelchner suggests a public outdoor market for the site and for artists’ lofts to be developed, much like what the original plan envisioned.

“There has been progress at the park, but it’s been spotty,” she said.

Steve Weiss, secretary of the Downtown Voices Coalition, wishes Hance Park were used more frequently.

“The sad thing about some of the Phoenix parks is that they’re either ignored or loved to death. Hance Park is falling into the former category.”

Jim Burke, Phoenix assistant parks director, is encouraged by the activity he does see.

“There are a lot of folks who jog through or use it as passive recreation,” he said. “But it’s probably a little underutilized.”

Jonathan Davis, a former landscape architect for Howard Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff, who was the project coordinator for the deck, said the park and the tunnel came about when the city was coming of age.

The tunnel and park project is an “incredible engineering marvel,” said Davis, now president of SEMI North America. “It was a fantastic project that had a real hope to serve as a catalyst for growth.”

He said the park was a terrific solution for easing an old wound after the homes had been leveled to make room for the freeway. Instead of a divide that separated neighborhoods, the park, he said, “could be the bridge.”

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There’s a new Giant in Phoenix


Photo Credit: Taz Loomans

Many people have heard of or have had the pleasure of eating at Matt’s Big Breakfast or having a cold brew at Roosevelt’s in downtown Phoenix. Matt is now taking on the coffee bean with his new idea of bringing gourmet to coffee using high quality ingredients.

Don’t call Giant Coffee the next hot spot or trendy hangout, just think of it as a relaxing getaway where you can get a flavorful cup of Four Barrel Coffee from San Francisco artfully topped with Straus Organic Barista Milk. Many delights to choose from when it comes to nibbling, Tammy Coe customs are plated and served, even breakfast burritos. Matt wants to keep items fresh so everyday after 3 pm select items are half off.

If Giant Coffee is anything like Matt’s other two creations this place will be around steaming and pouring high quality coffee for a long time. Come in, grab a smile and relax.

Giant Coffee
1437 N 1st St (map)
(602) 396-7215
Open 7am-7pm, seven days a week.

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