Desk Chat | Your Downtown with David KrietorTweet
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
What is the latest regarding DPI’s organizational capacity?
Financial Tracking. Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) and Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) have selected a new auditor: CBIZ Mayer Hoffman McCann. Our DPP/DPI controller, Nicole Friedrichs, handled the selection process with guidance from Ron Butler, Ernst & Young managing partner and DPP’s new board chair. Additionally, we put DPI’s Directors & Officers insurance policy in place and filed our annual report with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Our 501(c)6 application remains pending.
Welcome Aboard. By virtue of his new role as DPP chair, Ron Butler will join the DPI board. In addition, Ed Zuercher, acting city manager, and Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis Roca Rothgerber (a new DPI investor), will also join the DPI board. We are having discussions with three other potential investors, so there’s a good chance our board will grow even further.
Beefing Up. While the DPI staff remains lean (me), we have put in place three contracts to help with our growing work program. Long-time downtown advocate and “connector” Jim McPherson is working with me to craft our bimonthly communication with key downtown opinion leaders and prepare our 2014 DPI/DPP/PCA consolidated program of work. Jim, along with Jill Bernstein, Catrina Kahler, and Carol Poore, also helped draft the new Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) mission statement document. Dorina Bustamante, another well connected downtown advocate and entrepreneur, has been retained to assist with PCA membership development and programming. Finally, we have entered into a partnership with the Downtown Phoenix Journal to amplify our message. Given our start-up status we are trying to fill gaps in the most cost-effective manner.
What are some recent examples of downtown’s economic and cultural vitality?
Taste of the Trucks. Evans Churchill Neighborhood and Roosevelt Row CDC hosted the 2013 Taste of the Trucks two-day food gala on Saturday and Sunday. Each day featured the best bites on wheels with mobile fare from 25 trucks, local music, and a beer garden.
Here are just a few events through which to experience downtown:
Downtown, Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row
Evans Churchill, Downtown
Zombie Walk 5. There was a feeding frenzy of a different sort happening Saturday at Heritage & Science Park. Zombie Walk 5 drew an estimated zombie horde of 20,000 who infiltrated downtown in search of live music, kid’s activities, beer and, of course, brains. This free, family friendly event was presented by DPP and featured a 1.2-mile undead shuffle through downtown and a performance from nationally known rockers and zombie enthusiasts Powerman 5000.
A Visual Feast for the Eyes. The Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau (now known as Visit Phoenix) just released a snazzy new video showcasing downtown Phoenix… “where you go to dine beneath the skyline, see live music at a club or concert hall, shop for fashion or gifts at an independent retailer, watch pro sports teams, or take in the arts at a museum. All of this (and more) is within walking distance of downtown hotels, light-rail stations, and the Phoenix Convention Center.”
Leadership and advocacy are critical elements of effective community development? Where do you see this occurring?
Janette Sadik-Khan (transformational transportation guru) does an excellent job of pointing out community “assets that are hidden in plain sight.” Janette visited our region for the NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) Conference to see the seeds of urban progress that are the result of many years of hard work and investment from many partners working collaboratively to change the way our region grows and develops.
One of these successful multi-faceted partnerships, our own “asset hidden in plain sight,” is the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC). A regional effort led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in partnership with Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, the SCC’s 35+ public, private, and non-profit partners have toiled behind the scenes to nurture and implement: Complete Streets policies and outcomes; regional bike share; fresh and healthy food options in food deserts; new economic development models; transit-oriented developments connected to the 20-mile light rail corridor; and inclusive urban development decision-making that incorporates community and neighborhood expertise.
Downtown Voices Coalition. Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) is a ten-year-old broad based advocacy group comprised of individuals from neighborhood groups, community based organizations, arts organizations, and neighborhood scale developers. They meet monthly and have been very helpful to DPI by acting as a sounding board for major new downtown initiatives. While the feedback tends to be very direct, we are eliminating surprises and building better relationships. At the last meeting, attended by Phoenix Mayor Stanton, ASU made a presentation on the design for the new Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and city staff discussed possible high rise private development of the Central Bus Station site at Central and Van Buren. Tim Eigo, a DPI board member, also serves as DVC’s steering committee chair.
Greening Downtown. DPP staff worked closely with the City of Phoenix to secure 15 permanent Chinese Pistache trees on First Street between Adams and Monroe streets. These permanent tree wells were not originally a part of the First Street re-design, however DPP’s Ray Cabrera worked with the City to fix the dormant street-level irrigation and secure the trees. This block was measured to be the hottest (as in warmth!) in downtown Phoenix during the Urban Form Project in 2008, and these trees should help transform this stretch into a pedestrian-friendly cool spot. Read more about the project here.
Greening More of Downtown. On Thursday, October 24, the City of Phoenix, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and Evans Churchill Community Association held a small celebration with Councilman Mike Johnson at the site of the final tree planted on 5th Street north of McKinley:
What other items would you like to share?
I found this article that readers might like it. San Diego is about two years ahead of us in merging their downtown organizations, but we may be ahead of them in terms of connectivity with our neighborhoods. Read the article here.
I just learned that at their annual conference in Albuquerque, the board of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will be electing downtown’s very own Chevy Humphrey, executive director of the Arizona Science Center, to the role of ASTC board president. ASTC is an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide dedicated to furthering the public understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences. Congratulations Chevy!
Also, congratulations to the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for organizing a festive Grand Avenue Festival, and to the City for working with the neighborhood to design and implement an impressive streetscape improvement project. If you haven’t visited Lower Grand lately, I encourage you to do so.
View photos from the Grand Avenue Festival here:
Grand Avenue Festival photos by Steve Dreiseszun
1st Street Tree Planting photo courtesy of City of Phoenix
Featured screenshot image from Visit Phoenix “Downtown Phoenix” Video