Blog Archives

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.]

Small, artistic step in downtown Phoenix renewal

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After Hours Building (Photo: Michael Schennum, Arizona Republic)

[Source: Susan Felt, Arizona Republic] — For Russ Haan and Mike Oleskow, it was the perfect site for their inner-city renewal project: a quarter-acre of dirt on the north side of McDowell Road between My Florist Cafe and Phoenix Art Museum.  Today, the project includes a design business; an art gallery; an upper-level home with sweeping mountain and city views; a basement and wine cellar; and plenty of off-street parking.

Haan and Oleskow — founders of the Max&Lucy greeting-card and gift company, as well as After Hours Creative and After Hours Gallery — want to see other projects tackled throughout central Phoenix.  For now, it’s one shining but small example that inspires other possibilities.  In August, After Hours hosted the monthly meeting of Get Your Phx (fix), a group of “urban enthusiasts” who want to revitalize central Phoenix.

Rather than complaining about the state of downtown Phoenix, Haan said he and Oleskow decided to transform one of the area’s many vacant lots into a business-home with a gallery.  Haan emphasizes the scale of the project: It’s small. Not all urban infill projects need to be measured in numbers of units and size, he says.  One building, one vision can transform a quarter acre of land. [Note: Read the full article at Small, artistic step in downtown Phoenix renewal.]

Midtown Phoenix empty lot where WWII housing once stood sold

[Source: G.G. George] — The Encanto Citizens Association Board attended the foreclosure auction on Thursday, June 11, 2009 for the vacant land on the north side of McDowell Road between 13th and 15th Avenues.  The property that the out-of-state investor, Scott M. Haskins, had purchased in 2006 for $5,400,000 had contained 32 moderate-rate apartments meant to house war workers during World War II.  It was just two years ago to the day, June 11, 2007, that Haskins had the historic Palmcroft Apartments demolished.  In ECA’s opinion, Haskins’ action irresponsibly wasted a historic resource that, properly managed, could have sheltered low-to-moderate income families for generations to come.

The Encanto Citizens Association opposed both the alley abandonment and the grab for the excess right-of-way at the 15th Avenue bus stop.  Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Mayor Phil Gordon, former Councilman Doug Lingner, and the other Council members denied the developer the alley abandonment and the excess right-of-way.  The F.Q. Story Historic District also supported ECA’s position.

The property was sold at auction to Michael Sklar of the Sonata Property Group for $500,000.  Mr. Sklar is familiar with the neighborhood, having previously lived at 1621 N. 11th Avenue.  The Encanto Citizens Association will continue to monitor this property and, in the best of all possible worlds, work harmoniously with a developer who truly has something to contribute to the appeal of Encanto-Palmcroft.

One of the most important structures in Phoenix…

frontsundramaWhy does Desert Living Magazine call this building “one of the most important structures in Phoenix?”  Click here to find out.

Which downtown Phoenix “character area” do you live/work in?

In early July, the Phoenix City Council voted to adopt the Downtown Plan, a vision for future growth, neighborhoods, and parking, and the first part of the Urban Form Project.  The Plan defines Character Areas within the plan boundaries (roughly bound by Seventh Avenue, Buckeye Road, Seventh Street and McDowell Road) with the goal of ensuring that city planning and zoning decisions stay consistent with the Character Areas.  So what Character Area do you live and/or work in?  Click here and then go to the specific page(s) of interest:

  • Arizona State University (page 3-10)
  • Biomedical (page 3-33)
  • Business Core (page 3-7)
  • East McDowell (page 3-27)
  • Evans Churchill (page 3-29)
  • Government (page 3-39)
  • Light Rail (page 3-10)
  • Park Neighborhoods (page 3-47)
  • Roosevelt (page 3-15)
  • Seventh Avenue (page 3-18)
  • Townsend Park (page 3-25)
  • Van Buren (page 3-35)
  • Warehouse (page 3-42)
  • West McDowell (page 3-23)

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, contact Dean Brennan, Principal Planner, Phoenix Planning Department, by e-mail or phone at 602-262-4499.