Blog Archives

Van Buren’s Mahoney Building Receives Restoration Grant

mahoney building_300.jpg

Pen and ink drawing of the 1912 Mahoney Administration Building, Phoenix, AZ by architect Don Ryden.

[Source: Claire Lawton, PNT’s Jackalope Ranch]
​Large blue bins are making their way to and from the Mahoney Building at 2500 E. Van Buren St. in Downtown Phoenix.

They’re a sign of change, and a much-needed face-lift funded in part by arecent $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The 100-year-old building’s located at the Arizona State Hospital, originally known as the Insane Asylum of Arizona, and is the last of the Hospital’s structures that predates statehood.

Spearheading the preservation and renovation efforts is Susan Girard, a former Arizona Department of Health Services Directer and legislature, who says the goal is “to create a living museum to tell the stories about the progression of mental heath care in Arizona” in a release sent by the Mahoney Building Committee in March.

Girard spoke with New Times‘ writer and Surreal Estate columnist Robrt Pela in November 2010, when the building’s future was still uncertain. Then, she had hopes of a multipurpose Mahoney Building, with a mental health museum showcasing the old (and rudimentary) medical equipment, and a gallery where mentally ill people could exhibit the work they create in art therapy programs.

While the specifics of the renovation are yet to be released, the building has been designated as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, check out the Save the Mahoney Building page and read more about the Mahoney Building’s history in [New Times’]  Surreal Estate.

The Duce Defies Your Preconceived Notions of Downtown Phoenix

Photo Credit: Lisa Wonsey Parks, (Click on photo for original)

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times]

The Duce defies what you might imagine about the downtown Phoenix experience.

Where am I again?

To set foot in The Duce — a quirky mix of retail and dining in a cavernous, circa 1928 brick warehouse at Central and Lincoln south of downtown — is to experience a delighted sort of bewilderment, as if you’d stumbled into a funhouse-meets-time-machine, or at least somewhere very, very far from Phoenix.

Part all-American diner, part old-timey cocktail joint, and part soda fountain — not to mention boxing ring, clothing shop, and antiques dealer — it’s an alternate vision of what a downtown hangout should be. And named after the neighborhood’s old moniker, The Deuce, it references the gritty decades before revitalization became a buzzword.

Truly, The Duce is unexpected. For one thing, people don’t take advantage of historic properties here the way they do in some cities, where preserved buildings bring unique character to the urban fabric.

The proposed entertainment district in this part of town — in the orbit of the arena and the ballpark — never materialized, and the city’s set its sights instead on a very different vision, one embodied by the contemporary architecture and pristine walkways of CityScape, just a few blocks north of here.

And yet, here it is — a spot that pretty much defies what you think you might imagine about the downtown Phoenix experience.

The Duce is the brainchild of two Chicago transplants, husband-and-wife team Steve and Andi Rosenstein, who sold their vintage-inspired Fitigues clothing empire in 2006. In the meantime, they rounded up so many antiques that the dudes from American Pickers would drool if they saw the treasure trove in here. A highlight is the exquisite wood-and-glass Art Deco bar, plucked from a legendary Chicago jazz club called The Black Orchid. You can feel the history just oozing from it, as you sip a Cuba Libre and lean into its smooth wooden surfaces. It’s oddly glamorous.

While The Duce’s streetside façade is fortress-like (it was stripped to reveal original signage from the days when the building housed a metal forgery and bus body builder), the two rear entrances are huge and open — one reveals an incredible patio stocked with vintage bar seats, a gleaming silver Streamline trailer that serves as the restaurant’s kitchen, antique soda coolers, and a cheerful Hamm’s Beer bear statue holding a tray.

The other doorway leads to a retail space filled with racks of military surplus clothing and sportswear, vintage bicycles, soaps and lotions, antique kitchen accessories and ceramics, another impressive Art Deco bar, old bleachers, and a retro soda fountain. Just past the honest-to-goodness boxing ring at the far end (where you might see real action some nights of the week), there’s another entrance to the dining area, which is filled with communal tables and heat lamps.

By day, the surreal quality of The Duce seems exaggerated, if only because it’s largely deserted. The stereo blasts everything from Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady” to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender,” and one lone bartender will take your lunch order. There might be a handful of other people eating here, but in general, it feels like a place that time forgot. It’s a novelty that makes you wonder how it can exist and whether it will survive.

But things do rev up in the evening. There could be a DJ spinning an eclectic mix of oldies, and young dudes might be working up a sweat in the boxing ring. Twenty-somethings crowd around the bar for classic cocktails (think Moscow Mules or Greyhounds, served in Mason jars) or working-class beers like Schlitz or Pabst Blue Ribbon, while middle-aged couples with kids in tow gather around linoleum-covered communal tables scattered with baskets of ribs, rolls of paper towels, and bottles of sugary, old-fashioned soda pop. Conveniently, there’s a bunch of Hula Hoops on hand for kids (or adults, for that matter) to work off some steam.

And amazingly, despite the free-for-all atmosphere, the food is pretty decent…


Read the whole review at  the New Times site.


The Duce
525 South Central Avenue
Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

French toast: $8
Brisket sliders: $8
Maple-roasted ribs: $14
Chicago-style hot dog: $4

    Ruth Osuna Leaves Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture

    [Source: Phoenix New Time’ Jackalope Ranch]

    Ruth Osuna. Photo credit: New Times

    New Times has received a Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture memo stating that Ruth Osuna is leaving her recently appointed post as cultural affairs director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture for a position in Eloy.

    Osuna will become the city manager of Eloy, located in Pinal County, beginning December 6.

    Osuna worked as Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s chief of staff before she was replaced at the end of 2008 by Toni Maccarone, who now works in the Public Information Office.

    From there, Osuna landed a position as deputy city manager, a job she had held previously, before taking the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture gig in March 2010, when the city manager’s office cut its staff by one third.

    New Times‘ request for official comment from Osuna, who held the cultural affairs director position for eight months, as well as Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture staff, went unanswered.

    The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, which exists to develop arts and cultural awareness in the city, has completed close to 150 major public-art programs, including the Gimme Shelter Shade and the 7th Avenue Streetscape projects.


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    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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    Best of Downtown Phoenix

    This week, the Phoenix New Times came out with their annual Best of Phoenix 2010 list.  Among the 583 winners, there were several in and around downtown Phoenix.

    Here’s a list:

    People & Places

    La Vida

    Shopping & Services

    Food & Drink

    Bars & Clubs

    Hero Worship

    Be sure to also check out the ‘Hero’s and Villains‘ slideshow, features some of downtown’s best—and worst—personalities!

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    Jackalope Ranch’s Student Guide to Downtown Phoenix

    Here is the latest installment in Claire Lawton’s series of great guides to downtown Phoenix!

    [Source: Claire Lawton, Jackalope Ranch, Phoenix New Times]

    *     *     *

    The first week is never about what actually goes on during class. It’s about figuring out what your schedule means by “the Brickyard,” checking out potential lag-time hangouts and figuring out which path will save you three more minutes.

    Here’s a peek at our guide to ASU’s Downtown Campus …

    Claire Lawton

    Click on the image (or right here) for a full-size, printable version.

    On the Map:

    • New vending machines, sweet couches and every news show you could ever want to see are up and running in the Cronkite Building’s First Amendment Forum (they also host pretty cool speakers every Monday).
    • Cheap/Free/Easy Date Night: Take a look at a ton of local art that’s featured on the second floor of the UCENT building and check out the view of the city from the eighth floor.
    • For caffeine and munchies, skip the Starbucks down the street and check out Fair Trade Cafe across Central Avenue, Royal Coffee Bar at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market on Pierce Street (Jackalope sighting!), Conspire on Fifth Street, or Cartel Coffee on First and Washington Streets.
    Off the Map:
    • The Heard Museum is free for students on Sunday, August 15 (just show your Sun Card). Heard also hosts free admission events every third Friday.
    • Check out the Phoenix Public Library for refuge from the sun, a quiet afternoon, or a ride up and down the elevator (seriously).
    • Third Friday Concerts are back on at the Civic Space Park (under the large, flying blue object) at 424 N. Central Ave. from 7 to 9 p.m. (totally free). This space is also popular for bikini-clad sunbathers, who consequently create a popular activity for those on the fifth and sixth floors of every building that surrounds it.

    *     *     *

    Read the full post here.

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    Downtown Phoenix Public Market launches rewards program

    [Source: Phoenix New Times]

    Shopping local just got a bit cheaper with the Community Supported Market card at the Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar.

    The CSM card is half gift card and half discount card, which Community Food Connections (CFC), the non-profit organization that operates the Phoenix Public Market, says was created to thank customers for their continued support.

    How it works:

    • You buy the card. Get $50 for $50, $100 for $95, $250 for $225 or $500 for $425. (The more you spend the more you save.)
    • Use the card like cash when you shop at the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar (not the Wednesday or Saturday farmers’ markets). Take advantage of card-holder special offers, changing weekly, like buy one get one melons or $5 off wine.

    The Catch:

    You have to use the preloaded card by Dec. 31, 2010, or it expires and you’re outta luck.

    “I’m guessing there will be enough opportunities and enough good stuff in the store that they will have no problem spending their balance before the end of the year,” says Cindy Gentry, Executive Director of CFC.

    She says some people who purchased CSM cards at the start of the program, July 9, have already spent down their balance and reloaded.

    Anybody can get a card, not just previous customers, so now is a good time to check the market out if you haven’t already.

    “Not only are you getting to access your favorite foods at a discount, but you’re actually getting to support your local community,” Gentry says.

    CSM cards are available on-site at the Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar located at 14 East Pierce Street in downtown Phoenix. The market is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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    New Times issues 2009 “Best of Phoenix”

    3901858.41[Source: Phoenix New Times] — To hear people talk, you’d think Phoenix has had her wings clipped.  But we know the truth.  This is our wonderland.  Times may be tough, but instead of biting the dust, Phoenicians are sticking their heads in the clouds.  And here, as proof, is our annual love letter to the city — 591 examples of dreams becoming reality.

    This year we got back to basics with an emphasis on the do-it-yourselfers who are creating this city even as we write this.  We asked a group of creative types — from visual artists to musicians to a pastry chef — to show us their own personal Phoenix wonderlands.  You can see their work on the pages of this issue.  The originals will be on display on First and Third Friday in October at [merz] project, 1437 North First Street — and you’re all invited.

    Phoenix, you make our wildest dreams come true.

    Phoenix New Times looks to overhaul blog topics, seeks feedback

    Phoenix New Times blogger Martin Cizmar asks, “What Should Go On Our Blogroll?” Specifically, “We’re going to be overhauling the links to other music and culture blogs on the right hand side of the page (the ‘blogroll,’ as the kids call it) and we thought we’d solicit your suggestions. We’re looking for critics, labels, promoters, and fans but not band blogs. We’re most interested in sites that concentrate on — or at least occasionally discuss — Phoenix music, arts, nightlife, and culture but we’ll take a look at national stuff too.”   [Note: To read the full article and provide feedback, click here.]

    Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row named one of nation’s “best secret neighborhoods”

    [Source: Catrina Knoebl, Roosevelt Action Association] — Travel and Leisure Magazine recently picked Roosevelt Row as one of the best secret neighborhoods in the country.  And its signature Block Party is a can’t miss, with artists and vendors booths on Garfield Street between Fourth and Sixth streets.  Our own Phoenix New Times named it the Best Block Party.  

    Roosevelt Row is home to visual and performing art spaces such as Modified arts, eye lounge, MADE Art Boutique, and Red Dog Gallery; iconic F&B hotspots Fate, Carly’s, Roosevelt Tavern, Portland’s and Lost Leaf; plus shopping destinations Spoken and Bunky Boutique.  Just to name a few.

    And tonight, Friday, October 3, is First Friday.  Artlink’s art walk/ride spans several galleries and art spaces throughout the area, and most are open (at least) from 6 to 10 p.m. so there is plenty of time to check out some of the old and new, including those all in a Row.  If there was ever a day — night! — to explore your core, this is it.  Click here for more.