Blog Archives

Phoenix’s Opportunity Corridor knocked by recession

Opportunity Corridor

[Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal]Four years ago, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon announced he wanted to rehabilitate run-down areas along the 12-mile stretch from the Arizona Capitol through downtown Phoenix to Arizona State University in Tempe.  Dubbed the Opportunity Corridor, it was to be filled with new office, residential, biomedical, and industrial developments.  Today, inopportune times have stalled those plans.

Van Buren and Washington streets east of downtown still are dilapidated and, in some cases, are worse off because of the recession and real estate crash.   “It’s just in the tank,” said Mark Dioguardi, a real estate expert and attorney with the Scottsdale law office of Dioguardi Flynn LLP.

Like much of the Phoenix commercial real estate market, Dioguardi said the Opportunity Corridor is plagued by foreclosures, unsold vacant lots, shuttered businesses, and almost zero transactions, financing, and construction.  [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix’s Opportunity Corridor knocked by recession.]

Viewpoint: Central Phoenix, the good, bad, and ugly

[Source: Jon Talton, Rogue Columnist blog] — Because I know the fragile self-esteem of Phoenicians is at stake, let me begin my observations about the state of the center city with the good stuff.  I smelled the orange blossoms — even stepping out into one of ugliest urban spaces anywhere, the pedestrian loading zone at Sky Harbor.  Many of the Midwestern transplants dislike the scent, which makes me dislike some of them even more.  But this small, fleeting thing reminds me of my often magical city that is gone forever.

Some of the projects begun under former Mayor Skip Rimsza and spearheaded by people like former Deputy City Manager Sheryl Sculley, retired Deputy City Manager Jack Tevlin and Ed Zuercher, now a deputy city manager, have turned out quite well.  As I wrote before, the starter light-rail line is great.  Now lots of places are clamoring for LRT; the trick will be to avoid using light rail when commuter rail would be more efficient.  A metro area the size of Phoenix needs both.  The Convention Center is such a startlingly attractive set of buildings that you wonder if the design was approved by mistake, given Phoenix’s ability to erect such ugliness.  The ASU downtown campus, Mayor Gordon’s signature accomplishment, is more of a reality, and thus will be more difficult for the Legislature to destroy.  The lovely oasis of Arizona Center remains, shady and cool.

Read on if you want to know “the rest of the story,” as the late Paul Harvey would say.

Much of the center city looks as if it has been cleaned up after repeated carpet bombing by the Allies in World War II.  There’s just nothing there.  It’s staggering to see the cleared land along Van Buren, Washington and Jefferson in what was to be Mayor Gordon’s “Opportunity Corridor.”  Other vacant lots proliferate around the Central Corridor.  City Hall seems to have learned nothing from its clear cutting of the neighborhoods between 7th Avenue and the state capitol during the 1980s.

This is problematic for many reasons.  First is what’s lost.  One would never know that Phoenix in 1950 was as densely populated as Seattle is today.  Buildings, many average but many with architectural value, crowded along every street.  For example, the district between 7th Avenue and the capitol had many Victorian houses and apartments from the territorial and 1920s era.  Van Buren and east McDowell, to give just two examples, sported commercial strips with the buildings right up to the sidewalk.  Downtown and the warehouse district were dense with interesting, durable, and in some cases priceless buildings.  Now all gone.  [Note: To read the full blog entry, click here.]

Light rail may revive Phoenix’s Washington St. corridor

[Source: Chad Graham, Arizona Republic] — When it comes to Washington Street, think of Metro light rail as a ribbon that could tie together economic opportunities. The roughly 8-mile stretch from downtown Phoenix to Tempe was neglected for decades, but it could become a dynamic corridor that better links Arizona State University’s campuses, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and GateWay Community College, as well as biotech and green-energy companies. It would put tourists in easier reach of the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden, and Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon calls it the “opportunity corridor,” and in 2005, he began calling for a revitalization of the area between the Salt River and Van Buren Street and from the Capitol complex east to the Tempe city line.

Progress has been slow, and the meltdown of the financial markets has dried up capital for some promised private-sector improvements. Existing businesses have suffered, too, with light-rail construction shutting down some mom-and-pop shops and crippling others. [Note: to read the full article, click on http://www.google.com/gwt/n?q=%22Downtown+Phoenix%22+Arizona&hl=en&source=news&start=11&ei=02kdSZD6G4SkhgLyipiWAQ&ct=res&cd=us%2F0-7&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.azcentral.com%2Fw2%2Fnews%2Farticles.php%3Ffrom%3Dnews.xml%26articleid%3D781710%5D