Blog Archives

Planning Commission to Discuss Phoenix General Plan Update on Mar 9

On  Wednesday, March 9th, the City of Phoenix Planning Commission is holding a regularly scheduled public hearing.  This meeting will be of interest to DVC readers as the first substantive item on the agenda is “Presentation, discussion and possible recommendation on the General Plan Update- Public Hearing Draft.”

The general plan contains the city’s policies on character and design, land use, open spaces, the environment, economics, community services, neighborhood vitality, transportation and growth issues.

The Arizona Legislature has amended the general plan update requirements so that updates for municipalities do not have to be taken to the voters until 2015. However,the City of Phoenix is pushing to fast-track our general plan and wants to send it to voters during the municipal election on August 30, 2011.

Whether you support or oppose the contents of the General Plan, or the fast tracking of its passage, your voice is important. please come at let the Planning Commission know how you feel.


When: P.C. hearing on 3/9/11 at 6:00 pm

Where: City Council Chambers at 200 W. Jefferson.  This is the round building behind the old City Hall

Parking: Surface parking or parking in the garage on 4th Ave.  Turn south off of Washington Street and then take first left into garage.

You should try to get to the Council Chambers close to 5:30 pm to check in and fill out a yellow speaker’s card if you wish to speak or make your position known.


For further information, please call Alan Stephenson at 602-262-4870.

For reasonable accommodations, call Nici Davidson at Voice (602) 495-0256 or the City TTY Relay (602) 534-5500 as early as possible to coordinate needed arrangements.

For more information on the General Plan and the Update process click HERE.  A draft of the plan is available in English and Spanish.

Jackson Street Entertainment District hits a political nerve

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times] — This afternoon, the City of Phoenix Planning and Zoning Committee has a scheduled hearing on the establishment, through rezoning, of the controversial Jackson Street Entertainment District — ground zero for those five new Bernie Kantak restaurants I mentioned yesterday.  And it looks like a protest is in the works, too.  I found the link on Twitter [and Facebook].

It seems like there would be a lot of support for a mixed-use development like this, but as with CityScape a few years ago, there’s plenty of skepticism as well.  The fact that Jackson Street Entertainment District will be located in the Warehouse District — where there are a number of historically significant early 20th century buildings — makes it all the more sensitive.  (However, a staff report from the Planning Department notes that this project will preserve the historical character of the Warehouse District.) [Note: To read the full article and online comments, click here.]

Viewpoint: Jackson Street project is too good to ignore

[Source: Arizona Republic editorial board] — Incongruous as it may seem in the current real-estate market, the Jackson Street entertainment district in downtown Phoenix is forging ahead once more.   It has been a tough haul for this plan to dramatically make over the southern side of downtown.  But some ideas are just too good to grind to a halt.

In terms of the planning process, the entertainment district at last seems to be on a fast track.  The ambitious plan for a mix of nightclubs, restaurants, commercial and residential space, and, perhaps, a boutique hotel on the blocks south of US Airways Center has been slowed by the economy, but is gaining traction again.  We’re gratified to see it.  Few projects planned for the central city have the possibilities for transforming downtown like Jackson Street does.

The proposal went through a Phoenix Village Planning Committee review earlier this week. Tonight it is scheduled for review by the municipal Planning and Zoning Committee.  Unanticipated delays notwithstanding, the entertainment-district plan could go before the full Phoenix council by the first of next month.  In one form or another, the rare combination of gritty, old industrial buildings and sleek, new development has been under consideration for many years.  At one time, the proposal included elements on both sides of Jackson Street, north and south. [Note: To read the full editorial and online comments, click here.]

Phoenix residents debate Jackson Street Entertainment District impact

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson discusses the Jackson Street Entertainment District project at a recent PCU Coalition community forum.

[Source: Phoenix Communities United (PCU) Coalition] — PCU is a diverse and inclusive group consisting of neighborhood groups, students, religious and service organizations, and community leaders from Central and South Phoenix. Coalition members have been attending and will continue to attend various City of Phoenix meetings to voice their opinion on the zoning case for the Jackson Street Entertainment District.  The project is located in Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District, next to Chase Field, connecting south Phoenix to downtown.  The developers want to build a four-block entertainment district, including various entertainment venues, 1,000 units of market-rate housing, 150,000 square foot of retail, 150,000 square feet of office, and at least one hotel.

PCU has been organizing for months, and is working to ensure that this project positively impacts the surrounding community; and includes affordable housing, green standards, job opportunities for local residents; priority for local businesses, and support for community parks which are being shut down due to city budget cuts.

The next meeting in the development process is with the Phoenix Planning Commission. All interested residents are invited to attend:

  • Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
  • Time: 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

For more information about this issue or PCU, contact Corrine Widmer via e-mail, phone 480-495-4738, or Facebook.

Give your feedback on the City’s Downtown Phoenix Plan

The City of Phoenix Planning Department staff re-write of the Downtown Phoenix Plan is available online.  This document was given to the Planning Commission on May 14 and represents a major re-write of the Public Review draft presented to the Planning Commission in January by the project consultant.  City staff has “tweaked” the text, replaced a number of the images, and continues to add more images and maps.

Your questions, comments, and opinions are welcome!  Give your feedback before June 9, 2008 to Dean Brennan, Principal Planner, Planning Department, City of Phoenix, at 602-262-4499 or e-mail.

Staff continues to work on the Form-Based Code and is now conducting meetings with stakeholders in each of the Character Areas identified in the Plan.  The Code will go to the Planning Commission and City Council this fall.

New height limits urged near airport

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — City officials want to change the 37-year-old rules that cap building heights near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.  The plan, which will go before the planning commission on Wednesday and possibly to the City Council in June, would cap the size of future buildings at 700 feet in some areas and as low as 200 feet in others — depending on how close they are to the airport.

The proposed rules are unlikely to affect landowners anytime soon, city officials say, because the proposed limits are much higher than what people can build under city rules now.  The change is a safeguard against future proposals taller than what is envisioned right now, they say.  While some owners support the zoning plan others worry the change could bring more airport noise to their neighborhoods.  The proposed changes involve thousands of properties — the airport has sent nearly 60,000 notices to landowners. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Zoning could stimulate downtown arts district

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — A new downtown Phoenix zoning district would make it easier for artists and other small business owners to live and work in the same building, free of several city-imposed restrictions governing parking and other activities.  The Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay has been in the works for two years, and comes to a vote before the Phoenix Planning Commission Wednesday night.  It is expected to win approval and move on to the City Council next week.  Planners hope the new overlay will stimulate a thriving arts district near downtown, while minimizing issues that have proven problematic.

The boundaries of the proposed overlay include three areas that artists have colonized over the past several years, including Roosevelt Street between 13th Street and Grand Avenue, Grand Avenue from Van Buren to Interstate 10, and the warehouse district south of downtown.  The overlay would not change the zoning of any parcels, but it would broaden the number of activities that could be permitted under the zoning.  At first, the changes would focus on the Roosevelt Row area between Third and Seventh Streets, and Grand Avenue between Van Buren and Interstate 10.

Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Chairman Keuth and Planning Commission Members:

The Artists Issues Task Force has been working on the Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay for over two years now, and we think we have come up with a reasonable and balanced plan that will make it easier for the arts and small business uses to prosper and grow in downtown Phoenix.  The Task Force is comprised of artists, residents, developers, small business owners, the non-profit sector, and representatives from many city departments.  There have been numerous public meetings throughout this lengthy process and the overlay language has been continually altered to address issues raised by both community members and city staff.

The model we have developed has been influenced by successful districts around the country: vibrant downtown with a concentration of interesting small business, art, and cultural activities that contribute to the economic development and overall health of a city’s artistic and cultural life.  These districts attract residents and visitors alike, and are times key in a company or corporation’s decision to locate to a particular city.  Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle, New York, and other great cities have multiple character districts that define and make those cities truly unique and major destinations — and competitive on a global scale.

As Phoenix grows and becomes increasingly dense, we will continue to face the challenges that growth brings.  However, one of our biggest challenges will be retaining our creative and small business community and remaining competitive with not only other peer cities around the world, but with other rapidly growing cities around the Valley.  We feel this overlay will be a key component in helping downtown Phoenix maintain a competitive edge with other vibrant creative sectors, and will prove vital in promoting the “small wonders” that will ultimately bring a balance to the successful large projects that have been completed or are currently underway downtown.

We respectfully request that you support the February 11, 2008 recommendation of the Central City Village Planning Committee approving the proposed Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay.  On behalf of the Artist’s Issues Task Force, we are

Sincerely yours,

Sloane Burwell, Artlink, Inc.
Reid Butler, Butler Housing Company
Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC
Steven Helffrich, Studio Architecture
Dana Johnson, Garfield Organization
Kim Moody, Alwun House
Beatrice Moore, La Melgosa, L.L.C.
Steve Weiss, Downtown Voices Coalition

Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Dear Planning Commission Chair Keuth:

Downtown Voices Coalition, in a unanimous vote with one abstention, supports the City of Phoenix Planning Department staff recommendations regarding the amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to establish the Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay District.  This amendment would accomplish three things:

  • Encourage new and existing small businesses, including arts groups, art-spaces, entertainment, dining, and cultural activities, to revitalize the downtown areas included in the overlay.
  • Codify and legalize existing uses in the district, while establishing parameters for those uses.
  • Enable an overlay that enhances, rather than diminishes, property rights.

The continued success of First Friday, Third Friday, and the city’s goal of an expanded arts and entertainment culture in the downtown will be achieved in large part through this overlay.

Steve Weiss, Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

Public invited to comment on Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay

For the past two years, an Artist’s Issues Task Force (under the auspices of the city’s Downtown Development Office) has worked to develop an Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay in and around downtown Phoenix.  The current proposal has gone through an extensive public review process and citizen comments and ideas have been incorporated. 

Additional public comment is welcome at upcoming meetings of the Central City Village Planning Committee, Planning Commission, and City Council.  For meeting days and times or if you have questions about the proposal, contact Michelle Dodds with the City of Phoenix at 602-256-5618.

Representing Downtown Voices Coalition on the task force have been Steve Weiss (Chair) and Beatrice Moore (Treasurer).  We’ve made available the following background materials: (1) staff report, (2) proposed boundaries, and (3) proposal language.  Click here to review and download.