Blog Archives

Quote of the Day: “It’s a ghost town”

“Steffin Newman, a downtown [Phoenix] ambassador employed by merchants to assist visitors, said he often sends tourists to Scottsdale and Tempe when they ask about night life.  ‘Since I started here six months ago, it’s looked like recession to me,’ he sighed.  ‘It’s a ghost town.'”

Since Steffin’s comments appeared in the December 12 USA Today, apparently he’s been suspended.

Ex-Phoenix planning exec heads to Scottsdale

[Source: Lynh Bui, Arizona Republic] — One of Phoenix’s former top executives will soon start working for Scottsdale.  David E. Richert will become general manager of Scottsdale’s planning and development department Monday.  Richert has more than three decades of municipal planning and management experience, most recently as senior executive assistant to [Frank Fairbanks], Phoenix city manager.  In that role, Richert oversaw several major projects, including the completion of the Phoenix Convention Center and acquisition of state lands for the Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix…  Richert takes the place of Frank Gray, who resigned in June and is now the community and economic development director for Salt Lake City.   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Small businesses rate quality of life, downtowns of Arizona cities

The O’Neil Associates/ASBA Economic Indicators Monitor asked 3,000 small businesses across the state two questions about quality of life.  The first of these asked, “Which of these cities do you believe has the best quality of life?”  Three cities dominated responses.  Tempe was the city chosen most often for best quality of life, with fully a quarter (25%) of respondents.  Tempe was followed by Tucson (21%), and Prescott (21%).  No other city received responses in double digits, although Phoenix (8%), Flagstaff (7%), and Gilbert (7%) were notable.

Quality of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When focus was moved exclusively to the issue of the best downtown, only four cities received significant numbers of mentions.  Again, the most commonly cited city was Tempe (29%).  This was followed by Phoenix (23%), Scottsdale (21%), and Prescott (15%).

Best Downtown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results are taken from the Q3 O’Neil Associates/ASBA Arizona Economic Indicators Monitor.  Results provide insights into the perceptions of business owners on the economic health and vitality of the Arizona economy.  The survey has a margin of error (at the 95% confidence level) of approximately +/-6%.  For a complete copy of all O’Neil Associates/ASBA Arizona Economic Indicators Monitor reports released to date, as well as opinion research reports on an array of other topics, click here.

Noted Arizona architect Gonzales dies at 84

A native Arizonan, Bennie Gonzales gained a national reputation for his Southwestern style architecture (photo source: Stories of Arizona, KAET)

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] — Bennie M. Gonzales, an award-winning Arizona architect who designed most of Scottsdale’s downtown municipal buildings and invented a new style of widely copied Southwestern architecture, has died at age 84 in Nogales.  Gonzales created Scottsdale’s main library, city hall, and the buildings of the city’s art complex at the opposite end of Civic Center Plaza.  In addition to hundreds of homes, public buildings, and multi-family residences in Arizona and around the world, he designed a $1.5 billion residence for a Saudi Arabia king…  “He (Gonzales) was an overlooked giant among architects of our generation in this Valley,” said internationally recognized Phoenix architect Will Bruder, who designed the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix.

Gonzales’ peak was in the 1960s and ’70s with the Scottsdale city projects, which spawned numerous imitations.  A signature of Gonzales’ work is its lack of 90-degree angles.  He favored much wider angles that opened up space, said Scottsdale architect and former council member David Ortega, who began his career with Gonzales.  “He also really respected the context of where we were working,” Ortega said, citing the hospital Gonzales designed for the Navajo Nation in Chinle.

“Bennie was steadfast that the design fit with the culture.  He used a Navajo blanket motif and a westward hogan entrance,” Ortega said.  The cultural elements and the broad angles produced a decidedly Southwestern style of architecture.  “We knew we were in Arizona,” Ortega said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix on a budget: New rail line, hikes, golf

People wait in line for a table at Matt's Big Breakfast (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

[Source: Terry Tang, Associated Press, reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News] — In Phoenix, there’s nothing a trip to the golf course can’t fix.  It’s a warm winter escape for those who can afford a second home, and it basks in the spa-facial glow of being a place where people will pay a lot for five-star fun.  But for those with shallow pockets, the Valley of the Sun has budget-friendly options mixing an urban identity with access to nature.  It’s not every big city where you can scale a mountain, sample authentic Mexican food, and take in a free art show — all in one day. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Metro Phoenix housing prices dip again

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — Lenders’ pledges to be more aggressive about modifying delinquent mortgage loans did nothing to ease Maricopa County’s swelling foreclosure rate in October, according to the latest housing report from Arizona State University.  Foreclosures on single-family homes increased from 3,655 in September to 3,745.  Meanwhile, home resales followed a predictable pattern of seasonal decreases, dipping to 4,465 transactions in October from 4,625 sales the month before.

The city with the highest ratio of foreclosures to resales was Phoenix, where there were 65 more foreclosures than regular sales.  The median resale price also fell slightly, to $175,000 in October from $180,000 in September.  The median price is down 30% from $250,000 in October 2007.

  Home Resale Median Price

Foreclosures

2007 Population Foreclosures Per Capita
Chandler           250 $241,200             1,335      246,399 0.542%
El Mirage             85 $101,925               100        26,431 0.378%
Surprise           280 $157,250               215        90,717 0.237%
Goodyear           125 $158,000               110        52,864 0.208%
Avondale           160 $142,250               160        79,798 0.201%
Peoria           195 $214,350               165      146,743 0.112%
Glendale           315 $154,650               275      253,152 0.109%
Phoenix        1,270 $121,950             1,335   1,552,259 0.086%
Mesa           440 $174,000               365      452,933 0.081%
Gilbert           290 $227,000               165      207,550 0.079%
Scottsdale           265 $441,500               155      235,677 0.066%
Tempe             75 $240,000                 35      174,091 0.020%
Sun City             40 $190,000                   5        39,000 0.013%
Maricopa Co.        4,465 $175,000             3,745   3,880,181 0.097%

Color Key: East Valley (green), West Valley (yellow), Phoenix (orange)

Arizona Music Project musicians (by hometown)

As noted in a previous post, the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) has embarked upon a new project to encourage visitors to not only see Arizona but to hear Arizona.  AOT has developed the Arizona Music Project (AMP), a six-minute musical tribute to Arizona that captures the state’s diverse geography, culture, and heritage in music.  In addition to the composition, a documentary was created to chronicle the journey of the musicians who contributed to the project. 

And those musicians, places of residence, and instruments are:

  • Chandler: John Herrera, percussion
  • Gilbert: VerRona Grandil, viola, violin
  • Mesa: Dominic Amato, saxophone; Carrie Caruso, violin; Nick Sterling, guitar; Joe Swierupski, bass; Melanie Yarger, cello
  • Phoenix: Hai Jung Choi, bass; Bob Giammarco, bass: Chuck Kerrigan, tuba; Louie Moses, drums; Joshua Whitehouse, trumpet
  • Prescott: Joseph Torguson, pedal steel guitar
  • Scottsdale: Richard Bass, trombone
  • Surprise: Jason Camiolo, composer, drums; Paul Cruize, guitar
  • Tempe: Elijah Bossenbroek, piano; Nathan Mitchell, French horn
  • Tucson: Gabriel Ayala, classical guitar, flute

Metro Phoenix drops in Milken Institute’s “Best Performing Cities Index”

The Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best Performing Cities Index ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth.  The components include job, wage and salary, and technology growth.  The ranking depicts those U.S. metropolitan areas that are recording the top economic performance.  

Powered by a cluster of high-tech employers, Provo, Utah, has seized the number-one spot in the latest edition of the Best-Performing Cities index.  It is joined at the top of the 2008 rankings by other growing metro areas in Utah, Texas, Washington, Alabama, and the Carolinas.  The Phoenix/Scottsdale/Mesa MSA dropped from #4 in 2007 to #32 in 2008.

The full report can be downloaded here.  For metro Phoenix specific data, click here.

Name that city! (Well, duh, it’s Phoenix)

In Travel & Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities” poll, this city scored well as a relaxing retreat (#5), but ranked low for theater (#24) and live music (#25).  Best feature: Winter/Christmas (#3); worst feature: Summer Vacation (#25).  To learn more about “America’s Favorite Cities” and more detailed local rankings, click here.

New report says Phoenix has low concentration of working-poor neighborhoods

[Source: Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Do poor people live in or near your neighborhood?  The answer could be yes, as working-poor families in the Valley are more spread out than in most other cities.  And that’s generally good for them and for the economy, according to a report being released today.  The study from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., shows the Valley is bucking a national trend in which poor working families increasingly cluster together.  The study ranks the Phoenix metro area as having the fifth-lowest concentration of working-poor neighborhoods of 58 urban areas studied.  The Valley also ranks second-best in the country for its percentage decline in poor-neighborhood concentrations over a recent six-year period.

The study focuses on the geographic concentration of poverty rather than the number of low-income families because people who live in disadvantaged geographic areas face a “double burden,” according to the report’s authors.  They not only must try to make ends meet on low incomes but also usually live in areas characterized by few jobs, higher consumer prices, low housing values, more crime, worse community health standards, inferior schools, and so on.

Western cities generally scored well in terms of low concentrations of poverty-riddled neighborhoods – and in terms of the change of that concentration from 1999 to 2005.  The Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., metro areas had the lowest concentrated poverty rates, followed by Trenton, N.J., and the Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale.  Also, the Valley enjoyed the second-biggest decrease in high-poverty neighborhoods from 1999 to 2005, trailing only the Los Angeles metro area.  The study relied on 2005 because that’s the most recent year for which poverty data were available.  However, the Valley’s job market, housing market and economy have deteriorated since then — a trend also pronounced in Los Angeles and other Western cities that scored well in the report.  “If you take it forward to 2008, things might not look quite as rosy for Phoenix and other Western cities,” said Alan Berube, a Brookings research director and report co-author.  “Performance of the regional economy explains a lot.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]