Blog Archives

Next Downtown Voices Steering Committee meeting is Saturday, August 14

The public is invited to attend Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee meetings on the second Saturday of every month, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at Roosevelt Commons, 825 N. 6th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003The next meeting is Saturday, August 14.

7th Ave. and McDowell: the gateway to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Si Robins, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — The intersection of 7th Avenue and McDowell has long been overlooked.  Before SideBar, Pei Wei, and Starbucks moved onto the southwest corner of the intersection, it was an all-but-forgotten red light stop — abandoned antique shops, boarded storefronts, and a gas station.  So many ventures have come and gone on the corner that even the real estate boom of the early 2000s couldn’t lift it out of its hole.  But, things are turning around.

Whether or not you’re ready to admit it, the corner is quietly becoming an important gateway to Downtown from Midtown neighborhoods and points west.  Those invested in the corner couldn’t agree more.  “There are great neighborhoods around it — they’re diverse; they’ve been here forever,” says Josh Parry, co-owner of SideBar, which just celebrated its first anniversary.  “We’ve got walk-up traffic and a really diverse group of people.   This corner has amazing potential.  It’s got everything going for it, but it’s just been ignored by everyone for so long.”

Mike Hogarty, a partner at Desert Viking, the development company rehabbing the southeast corner of the intersection, concurs.  “It’s the four corners of the historic neighborhoods (Willo, F.Q. Story, Roosevelt and Encanto-Palmcroft),” Hogarty says.  “It’s always been a good corner; it’s just been poorly served recently, and it’s time to change that.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit 7th Ave. and McDowell: the gateway to downtown Phoenix.]

Viewpoint: Where do you live (in Phoenix)?

[Source: Seth Anderson, Downtown Phoenix Partnership blog] — The automobile is so ubiquitous in Phoenix that it has even crept into the way we speak.  With rare exception, we do not talk about where we live in terms of neighborhoods or districts, but in terms of intersections.  You hear, “I live at 7th Ave and Camelback” or “I live in North Phoenix off of (fill in the blank),” but never a reference to an established neighborhood.  (There are exceptions, but they are few.)

I think it’s unfortunate that our Phoenix lingo doesn’t include references to neighborhoods, the areas that should be little pockets of density like mini-cities within the city.  I’m thinking of places like North Park, Hillcrest, and Kensington in San Diego; Sugar House or the Avenues in Salt Lake; Lakeview or Andersonville in Chicago; or Georgetown or Dupont Circle in D.C.  Each of these neighborhoods has its own character, charm, and history and each neighborhood is integral to sustaining a healthy downtown core.  Without neighborhoods, mixed use buildings, and walkable streets, a town center can never mature into an urban city because it will lack the vibrancy and innovation necessary.  If downtown Phoenix is the urban heart or Arizona, then people are the lifeblood and the neighborhoods where the people live are the organs that supply it.

I’d like to see the city government take a more active role in “branding” the existing neighborhoods.  (And by “take a more active role” I mean cut the red tape, back off, and stop imposing more and more restrictions that insist on a suburban style of development.)  Did you know there are actually 35 historic neighborhoods in Phoenix?  I did not; I am able to identify just a handful.  Of those I have a shaky idea about where they are; I can vaguely discern when I am in one.  Willo is pretty obvious.  Coronado and Garfield are a little more inconspicuous.  However, I’d have to look at a map to identify exactly where those two neighborhoods are.  [Note: Read the full blog entry at Viewpoint: Where do you live (in Phoenix)?“]

Downtown Phoenix gallery raided on First Friday for allegedly selling booze illegally

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Phoenix police officers stand in front of UM Gallery on Friday evening (photo: Jonathan McNamara, Phoenix New Times)

[Source: Benjamin Leatherman, Phoenix New Times] — Things got a little crazier than usual during First Friday in downtown Phoenix this past weekend after Phoenix police officers raided UM Gallery (the Fifth Street art space run by local hip-hop promoters Universatile Music) on charges of serving beer and wine without a permit.  The incident started just after 10 p.m. when about a half-dozen officers shut down the gallery’s First Friday celebration, pulling the plug on a few DJs spinning hip-hop music outside on the porch in the process. The cops then detained five members of the UM posse that were inside, including promoter Reuben Martinez, artist Jules Demetrius (who’s artwork was on display), and Dusty Hickman (who also goes by the DJ handle Pickster One).

Martinez later told me that they were serving cans of PBR and cups of Charles Shaw wine (a.k.a. “Two Buck Chuck”) to patrons in exchange for a “recommended donation” to help support the gallery.  Hence, he claims that they weren’t in violation of state liquor laws.  The cops obviously disagreed, as Martinez, Demetrius, and three others were cited for selling booze without a permit (which is a Class 2 misdemeanor).  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Phoenix’s Morin House, April 29

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Morin House in its original location.

Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of the M. Edward Morin House, Wednesday, April 29, 2009:

  • Open House ~ 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Short Program ~ 6 p.m.

Originally located at 1115 N. 2nd St. in the Evans Churchill neighborhood, this threatened historic structure was moved through the streets of downtown Phoenix during the wee hours of September 8, 2007 to its current Roosevelt neighborhood location.  Owner Dan Klocke has rehabilitated the structure to its former glory as office space, and he invites you to see the final product.

RSVP here.

Project Description

The M. Edward Morin House was built in 1909 and is one of a handful of two story brick homes from that era in all of Phoenix.  Morin and his wife D’Etta were the owners of the Phoenix Bottling Works at the turn of the last century and built the home as a testament to their hard work.  The 2.000 square foot house employs a unique blend of Queen Anne massinq, featurinq an octagonal projection at the south end, with Colonial Revival ornamentation, including a classical entablature supported by Ionic columns.  Craftsmen details are also present, such as overhanqinq eaves with exposed rafter ends.

The property was a sinqle family home until the late 1930’s, served as an apartment for many years, and until recently was an office and home to Orcutt Winslow Architects.  Threatened with demolition, the current owner moved the house from 2nd Street and Moreland to its current site.

While all of the floors, windows, and character pieces have been restored, the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems are all brand new. The first floor has restored leaded glass windows and woodwork in the lobby, front room, and large back room, complete with massive pocket doors.

Help plan route for May 2 Jane’s Walk in downtown Phoenix

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[Source: Yuri Arbitise, Jane’s Walk Phoenix Coordinator] — The May 2, 2009 Jane’s Walk Phoenix will focus on the northern part of downtown Phoenix between 7th Ave. and 7th St, and Van Buren and Interstate 10 (i.e., Roosevelt neighborhood, Evans Churchill neighborhood, and ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus).

While this area in mind, walk organizers would appreciate your responses to as many of the questions below as you like (five would be great)!   Your answers will help in selecting a specific walk route and identifying features and concepts to point out during the course of the walk.  For this survey, “neighborhood” refers to the northern part of downtown as explained above.

In addition, with your permission, organizers would like to profile some respondent’s answers in the Jane’s Walk Phoenix Blog.  However, if you would rather your answers to be anonymous or confidential, that’s no problem!).  Just cut and paste your responses into an e-mail to janeswalkphx@gmail.com

  1. What are some important meeting spaces in your neighborhood? (important for work, food, thinking, recreation, laughing with friends, local politics — think broadly)
  2. What spaces are you most proud of in your neighborhood?
  3. What are some important green-spaces?
  4. What are some interesting short-cuts you take?
  5. Where do kids like to play? Adults? Retired folks?
  6. Where are some spaces that feel more private, like a small urban oasis?
  7. Do any buildings have unusual marks or features?
  8. What is your favorite adaptive use project? (older buildings that have been reconfigured into different uses)?
  9. Where do you feel most comfortable?
  10. Are there any important historical spaces in your neighborhood?
  11. Where do you not feel safe?
  12. What is a space that you really dislike?
  13. What is your favorite mixed-use location (places that mix retail, business, and residential)?
  14. Are there spaces you would like to see change?
  15. Are therer spaces/features you want to see preserved?
  16. Is there an important question or idea that should be talked about by everyone?

Mayor and volunteers plant trees in downtown Phoenix

Volunteers help plant trees in downtown Phoenix (City of Phoenix)

Volunteers help plant trees in downtown Phoenix (photo: City of Phoenix)

[Source: Deborah Stocks, ABC15] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon rolled up his sleeves Saturday to help fend off the effects of global warming. The mayor joined volunteers who were planting 40 trees in downtown Phoenix to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Valley Forward Association, an organization that promotes efforts to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities.

The group of 120 volunteers planted Chinese Evergreen Elms in the downtown Roosevelt District near 5th and Roosevelt street. The trees were donated by Salt River Project and Enterprise Rent-a-car will need little water. This is the second round of planting. More than 120 new trees have been planted through the Mayor’s downtown tree planting initiative.

Gordon planted and staked the first tree Saturday.  Volunteers participated from ASU, Valley Forward, SRP, Girl Scout troop 436, and many neighbors.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix neighborhood coalition urges City support of existing special planning districts

[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix] — Maintaining a favorable quality of life in established neighborhoods is challenging.  Citizen developed and approved area plans are one of the tools used in the struggle to preserve established neighborhoods and define their desired character.  The City of Phoenix Special Planning District Plan (“SPD”) originally known as a Special Conservation District (“SCD”) is one form of such an area plan.  At present, there are 12 SPDs:

  • Roosevelt SPD – Central City Village
  • Story SPD – Central City Village
  • Coronado SPD – Encanto Village
  • Encanto Vista SPD – Encanto Village
  • Willo SPD – Encanto Village
  • Arcadia Camelback SPD – Camelback East Village
  • North Central Avenue SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Squaw Peak Heights SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Windsor Square SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Royal Palm SPD – Alhambra Village
  • Saguaro SPD – Paradise Valley Village
  • Mountain Park SPD – South Mountain Village

Shortly after the Squaw Peak Heights SPD had been approved (July of 2006), a dissident property owner subject to the terms of the plan, filed a suit in Superior Court challenging the way the final votes for the SPD were tabulated.  In August of 2008, the court issued a Minute Entry favoring the claimant.  If the City of Phoenix fails to appeal the Squaw Peak Heights SPD Court decision within 30 days after the formal decision is handed down (could be sometime soon after the first of the year), it will cause this particular SPD to be voided.  A replacement SPD is estopped from being a possibility because of the passage in the fall of 2006 of Proposition 207.  A failure to appeal could jeopardize the validity of all of the other SPDs because they tabulated their final votes according to the same procedures as were followed in the case of the Squaw Peak Heights SPD.

The Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix believes that the loss of the existing SPDs under such circumstances will be detrimental to all neighborhoods whether or not they fall under an SPD.  This is due to the fact that an unwillingness on the part of the City of Phoenix to at least appeal the Superior Court’s decision in this instance will be interpreted by developers as a softness on the City’s part to support other existing citizen authorized/passed area plans such as the existing Specific Planning District Plans.  Such an interpretation will embolden developers to propose projects that will not be in keeping with these plans.  The same holds true for adhering to rezoning for sites throughout the city that was passed subject to approved site plans and stipulations.

Individuals and organizations in agreement with the Coalition’s position on this matter are encouraged to send a letter or e-mail by the middle of January 2009 urging Mayor Phil Gordon and Members of Council to oppose the Superior Court decision in the matter of Madison Positive Alliance of Neighbors v. Phoenix City (case on Squaw Peak Heights SPD).  The cost of such an appeal does not come from the City’s operating funds.   It is an insurance matter.   All such letters should be addressed to the party intended at 200 W. Washington Street, 11th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003-1611.

For more information, contact Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, at 602-840-1579 or e-mail.

Rehab work re-starts on Phoenix’s historic Morin House

[Source: City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office] — Work has begun again on the Morin House, a historic relocated house now located at 621 N. 5th Avenue in the Roosevelt Historic District.  Previously, the City Council approved bond funds to rehabilitate the house at its new site but worked stopped several months ago when new structural issues were discovered. 

On July 2, the City Council approved additional matching bond funds to address the unanticipated structural repairs, and this work is now underway.  The rehabilitation work is slated to continue for the next several months, with a project completion date scheduled for late 2008.

New DASH bus routes launched in downtown Phoenix

[Source: KPHO Television] — New DASH bus routes launched Monday morning in downtown Phoenix.  Marie Chapple with Phoenix Public Transit says the DASH downtown loop will now take them to the dining places and sports venues, including ASU.  “People used to going from the state Capitol to downtown Phoenix or into the city buildings will still be able to do that, they just won’t have to go as far as they used to,” Chapple said.  Basically, it’s from the state Capitol to the city and county buildings and into Central Station.”

Chapple said the downtown DASH loop used to run mostly at night and nobody was riding it.  The routes are now targeted to the daytime dwellers of downtown Phoenix.  “It’s a north-south loop and we think it’s going to work a lot better for who’s here during the day,” she said.

Mayor Phil Gordon said he will seek more money to keep the buses running past 8 p.m., and he may start thinking “outside the box.”  “[We should] look at bringing in some private vendors, particularly to tie together the Garfield, Roosevelt, the historic neighborhoods where there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and boutiques to the core downtown,” Gordon said. 

By early 2009, another 800 ASU students will be moving into downtown dorms.  The DASH buses are also sporting a new look.  Gone is the copper color.  The new buses are decked out in blue and green.