How does a downtown hotel celebrate its second birthday? If it’s the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, they mark the occasion with an elaborate block party, replete with an adult hot chocolate bar, lobster corn dogs, Dave Damiani & the No Vacancy Orchestra and a silent auction, with proceeds to benefit the O’Connor House.
A luxurious celebration, for sure, but one that is representative of the relationship the Renaissance has built with the downtown community in only a couple of years. It is the perfect opportunity to, as General Manager Paige Lund says, “share the personality of this great city and the soul of this great city, because there’s a lot of it.”
Having opened its doors in January 2012, the former Wyndham property had undergone a renovation a few years prior, but the Renaissance team has actively transformed the space, updating guest rooms, fitness center and club lounge to create a cohesive space that reflects its downtown environs. A lifestyle brand within the Marriott portfolio, Renaissance partners with each city in which it is located to promote what Lund describes as “the experiential side.”
We asked the Navigators to share some of the gems they suggest to visitors. Here are a few highlights.
Downtown Deli (for the chicken noodle soup!)
Orpheum Theatre (for shows or the Tuesday guided tour)
Hotel guests are referred to as “Discoverers,” while concierges are “Navigators,” helping to plan their visit. While visitors are known to come to the Valley for the weather, the golfing and other outdoor activities, the navigators introduce Phoenix-centric cultural elements, such as local museums, restaurants, and live music. “The places where a local would go,” according to Lund. The hotel even offers a tour of downtown murals.
“They navigate those that stay with us to all the hidden gems, all the local flavor, the best places to sip, savor, shop and see that you wouldn’t otherwise know about if someone local didn’t tell you.”
The most integral local component that the Renaissance has incorporated into its décor, programming, and overall mission is the local arts scene. The guestrooms are filled with photographs that resulted from a student competition with the Phoenix Union High School District; the chandeliers in the ballroom were made by local artisans; and most recently the hotel added its very own gallery, Shade West.
Located in the west wing of the hotel, the non-profit gallery space is run by Shade Projects, with exhibitions changing every four-to-six weeks. The gallery was a natural progression of the partnership the Renaissance has developed with the downtown arts scene. While Lund does not have a formal arts background, she notes that Lead Navigator Jesse Perry is an artist. Many other staff members are well versed in the arts, while others have earned an arts education through their time working here.
The partnership between Shade Projects and the hotel was cemented during a nearly eight-month video project for the hotel that was directed and photographed by Wayne Rainey. The video deftly portrays the relationship Renaissance strives for—a luxury hotel within the heart of a vibrant downtown.
Of the video, Rainey says, “We wanted to create a sense of place. We wanted to create something that said, ‘Check this out. Here are the people of our neighborhood.’ … It’s authentic marketing. It’s almost a lost art, but it’s so cool, and it’s honest, and it works.”
Event Manager William Stratton sees a successful payoff already in terms of the perception of the hotel’s guests. “People have started to identify us with knowledge and being well versed in the arts, generally speaking.”
Says Stratton, “I appreciate what art does to a person. I appreciate how it makes you think independently and critically. Art represents what it represents to the individual regardless of what is on that canvas, regardless of what is being molded, it’s what does that represent to yourself. … I love how people see different things. I love how it’s not the same, ever.”
Understanding and integrating the arts extends throughout the Renaissance. Lund was recently honored with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association 2014 Hotelier of the Year award, showing how downtown Phoenix is being recognized at the state level.
For everyone in Phoenix, in the hospitality industry or otherwise, the big focus is next February’s Super Bowl. Lund indicates that the hotel is already booked by the NFL. “This is Phoenix’s chance to really show everyone what we’re about.”
Between block parties and local community partnerships, the Renaissance is establishing itself as the downtown venue to showcase the urban core of the Valley. “We’ve just really chosen to embrace what this brand stands for,” Lund says of the boutique hotel. “They give you a great foundation, what you do with it is what’s so important. We have just chosen to do it on steroids.”
If you go:
Renaissance Second Annual Birthday Bash
Date: February 22, 2013
Time: 7 to 11 p.m.
Location: 50 E. Adams St.
Featured image courtesy of Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
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NO FESTIVAL REQUIRED PRESENTS NEW FILM SERIES
“Sunday Matinees at Phoenix Center for the Arts”
FIRST FILM- “SWEET DREAMS”
A film by Lisa Fruchtman and Rob Fruchtman
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16 2014, 1:30 PM (DOORS AT 1 PM)
Location: Third Street Theater, Phoenix Center for the Arts
1202 North 3rd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004
Tickets $7.00 (advance online ticket details at- http://phoenixcenterforthearts.org/events/)
Synopsis: Rwanda’s first and only all women’s drumming troupe is called Ingoma Nshya. Made up of women from both sides of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the troupe offers a place of support, healing and reconciliation. When the group decides to partner with two young American entrepreneurs, Jennie Dundas and Alexis Miesen of Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream, and open Rwanda’s first ever ice cream shop, these remarkable Rwandan women embark on a journey of independence, peace and possibility. SWEET DREAMS interweaves intimate, heart-wrenching stories with joyous and powerful music to present a moving portrait of a country in transition.
Running time – 84 minutes
THE REST OF THE SERIES, ALL SUNDAYS 1:30 PM MATINEES!
April 13-REGGAE GOT SOUL-The story of Toots and the Maytals
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Art Detour 26 is an All Access Pass to More than 100 Downtown Art Venues ‘Living in Color’
Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc. Host ‘Art d’Core Gala’ Celebrating a ‘Downtown for Everyone’
The 26th Annual Art Detour, March 8-9, 2014, will be an exceptional celebration of artists and their important contribution to the vibrancy of downtown Phoenix.
More than 100 spaces, including working artist studios, unique art spaces, galleries, cultural venues, restaurants and retailers will open their doors to make this the best two-day, all-access pass to the downtown arts scene in Detour’s 26-year history. [See the full list of participants: http://artlinkphoenix.com/articipants/participating-venues/]
“Detour-ists” are invited to visit artists’ private working studios not typically open for viewing, explore Pop-Up Gallery exhibits exclusively planned for Art Detour, and to discover the colorful mural scene on walls, buildings and fences throughout downtown.
A free double-decker London bus will circulate, making stops at neighborhood “park-and-ride hubs” in Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, CityScape, Arizona Center, and more, providing the public with a unique opportunity to explore Phoenix’s art scene in a fun, festival environment. The event coincides with First Friday, March 7, 2014, resulting in a weekend chock-full of arts-related experiences, exhibitions and activities.
Join the Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., Artlink and other community partners on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at the Art d’Core Gala, a celebration of the significant role the arts have played in invigorating and adding color to our downtown.
Mayor Greg Stanton will be the featured speaker of the festive event at Crescent Ballroom, toasting business leaders, small business entrepreneurs, neighborhood groups, and the flourishing arts community in an expression of shared pride in Phoenix.
“It took everyone, including the City, business, neighborhood groups, entrepreneurs and artists to bring our city this far,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We will continue working together to add the textures, flavors, and colors that strengthen our vibrant downtown and showcase this city we love. We are building a downtown that belongs to everyone.”
This free, “fun formal” affair will feature live music and dancing; fabulous food and drink; art installations featuring premiere local artists; and an eye-popping virtual tour of downtown art spaces. Guests are encouraged to dress colorfully with creative formal attire.
“Downtown artists and arts entrepreneurs are key players in the ongoing development of our vibrant downtown core,” said David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “The Art d’Core Gala is a party where everyone can come together to celebrate the positive impact the arts have had in our remarkable city.”
WHEN: Saturday, March 1, 2014, 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003
TICKETS: There is no charge for this event, however, please RSVP to Art d’Core Gala
ATTIRE: Dress colorfully! Creative formal attire encouraged.
HOSTED BY: The Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc.
Art Detour 26 Schedule of Events:
3/1 – Art d’Core Gala at Crescent Ballroom – A festive, free, art-full celebration of our downtown hosted by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and benefiting Artlink Inc.
3/7 – Pre-Detour First Friday. March First Friday is one of the most popular of the year.
3/8-9 – Art Detour 26. A free, two-day immersive arts experience, featuring over 100 designated venues and free, circulating trolleys to help visitors enjoy self-guided studio, art space and gallery tours.
This free weekend event also offers programming for all ages, including family-friendly “Kids’ Detour” activities at participating venues.
“Artlink is excited to have partners like CityScape, Downtown Phoenix Inc., Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Phoenix Community Alliance who are helping connect Artlink to the broader downtown community,” said Catrina Kahler, President of Artlink’s Board of Directors.
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REDESIGNED DOWNTOWN PHOENIX DIRECTORY FEATURES LOCAL ART
Featuring an artistic rendering of First Street on the cover, a redesigned 2014 Downtown Phoenix January to June Directory is hitting the streets now.
Local artist Jon Arvizu’s digital rendering celebrates the new shade trees, expanded walkable space and temporary planters installed by the City of Phoenix in late 2013.
“I’m glad to see a renewed interest in making Downtown Phoenix a more pedestrian and bike-friendly destination,” Arvizu said about the improvements that inspired his cover artwork. “In a city this large, an accessible Downtown benefits everyone.”
The redesigned cover continues the recent Downtown Phoenix Partnership publication initiative to highlight the Downtown Phoenix experience through art.
The Downtown Directory, the must-have resource for visitors and urban explorers, includes business listings for over 200 businesses and 120 restaurants in the 90-square-block urban core. The new edition also features a new Walking Tours list, encouraging pedestrians to explore Downtown’s historic buildings and public art.
The Directory will be distributed to businesses, restaurants and major event locations inside and outside of Downtown and through the Downtown Ambassador team.
In addition to the 2014 January-June Downtown Phoenix Directory, information about Downtown Phoenix is easily accessible through the Partnership’s web site www.downtownphoenix.com.
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.
First of all, thank you for your feedback and additions to our 2013 “positives” list. The most current list, which grew by several more, can be viewed here on Downtown Phoenix Journal.
And speaking of the media, The Wall Street Journal published an extensive “Guide to the Ultimate Long Weekend in Phoenix” on January 17th. You’ll be proud that numerous downtown and midtown Phoenix locales made the list. Then, look what readers of the New York Daily News saw upon opening their Saturday paper: a Phoenix GRID bike share bicycle on the streets of New York. Word’s getting around.
Now let’s get around to learning about other recent news of note here in our downtown…
What is the latest regarding DPI’s organizational capacity?
Mayor Greg Stanton has appointed District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski to the Downtown Phoenix, Inc. Board of Directors. In addition to representing much of downtown, Councilman Nowakowski has a strong background in events and marketing which will be an important benefit to the DPI leadership team. The Mayor also reappointed Cindy Dach from Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp., Tim Eigo from Downtown Voices Coalition, and Kimber Lanning from Local First Arizona as his designees on the DPI Board.
What are some examples of downtown’s economic and cultural vitality?
These next few months are filling up rapidly with an impressive line-up of downtown events and activities. Mark your calendar and get ready for the following:
February: The Mayor’s Super Pool Party, Feb. 2 ~ Infill & Adaptive Reuse in Phoenix: What Pencils?, Feb. 4 ~ First Friday Artwalk, Feb. 7 ~ Phoenix Chinese Week, Feb. 7-9 ~ A Day in the Park, Feb. 8 ~ Willo Home Tour, Feb. 9 ~ Devour Phoenix’s 5th Annual Bartending Competition, Feb. 9 ~ Grant Park Area Development Project Community Meeting, Feb. 12 ~ Arizona Matsuri Festival, Feb. 22-23 ~ Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel’s Birthday Bash, Feb 22
March: Mardi Gras Parade, March 1 ~ Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic, March 1 ~ Art d’Core Gala, March 1 ~ First Friday Artwalk, March 7 ~ VIVA PHX, March 7 ~ Art Detour 26, March 8-9 ~ St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire, March 15 ~ Hance Park Master Plan Final Presentation, March 27 ~ McDowell Mountain Music Festival, March 28-30 ~ KAET Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival, March 30
And here’s one event we just have to focus on because (a) it’s coming up soon and (b) the whole “warm sun versus frigid cold” thing… Bag some rays while watching this year’s Big Game (being played in New Jersey… brrr!) and celebrate the official start of the countdown to next year’s Super Bowl XLIX being played right here in the Valley.
Join Mayor Stanton at his city soiree being held at Hotel Palomar’s beautiful Lustre Rooftop Garden, where you’ll enjoy the usual football fun – high definition, adult beverages, chicken wings, high fives – plus special Phoenix touches like cabanas, ping pong, corn bag, and oh-by-the-way a heated pool. Party starts at 2 p.m. Kickoff at 4:25 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited (around 300) so come early. And remember your sunscreen.
Leadership and advocacy are critical elements of effective community development. Where do you see this occurring?
Things, development-wise, are buzzing. The hive @ central co-working space opened at Burton Barr Central Library and the ASU School of Art Grant Street Studios opened in the vintage Levine Machine Building in downtown’s Warehouse District. Both events were extremely well attended and indicators of positive things to come.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, visited Phoenix a few weeks ago and toured places and projects demonstrating Phoenix’s commitment to a more sustainable city. McCarthy’s favorite stop was Grand Avenue, not only for the excellent piece of pie she enjoyed at Bragg’s Factory Diner, but because the recent streetscape improvements from Seventh Avenue to Roosevelt along Grand emanated from recommendations outlined in the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals grant awarded to Phoenix in 2011.
With the economy picking up, the California-based Hansji Urban is progressing with its $80 million, 19-story Luhrs City Center Marriott to be situated at the northwest corner of Madison Street and Central Avenue. In the mid-2000s, the City of Phoenix allowed for the demolition and development of the 1912 Luhrs Central building (where the Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn are slated to go) in order to protect and renovate three other historic buildings on the same block – the 1924 Luhrs Building, 1929 Luhrs Tower, and Luhrs Post Office Station and Arcade in-between the two taller structures.
Across the street, at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Central there’s movement afoot to revitalize the 1915 Jefferson Hotel (now known as the Barrister Building and former home of the Phoenix Police Museum and several city departments). Last fall, the Phoenix City Council voted to conduct a formal bid process to sell or lease the building with a conservation easement to maintain the historic facade. Valued at approximately $1.5 million, the building will be put on the market in the next few months by the City. Potential future uses could be a hotel, restaurant, retail shops, or offices.
The Phoenix City Council approved the proposed mixed-use new construction project on two vacant city-owned parcels and the renovation and adaptive reuse of the historic Leighton G. Knipe House, all situated on North Second Street, between Roosevelt and Portland Streets. After additional community feedback, Roosevelt Housing Associates, developers of “The Row,” modified their initial proposal to develop approximately 15-20 percent of the housing units as market rate, with no age or income restrictions; require all tenants to sign an affidavit acknowledging they are moving into a vibrant arts district; develop the street-level units as live-work artist studios; actively market the project to artists; and dedicate a portion of the common area space for local artists to prominently display their works. With City Council approval, the developer and City staff will continue to work with neighborhood groups through the design process.
January has also brought out the urban planner in all of us!
The Roosevelt Row CDC recently completed its report, “Roosevelt Row: Artists’ District, Creative Placemaking in Downtown Phoenix,” and will begin a series of public forums to discuss the findings and outline next steps.
The Phoenix Center for the Arts hosted a well-attended community forum on commercial district revitalization, focusing on Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and downtown Mesa. (Yes, downtown Mesa.
Steps being taken by developer Feliciano Vera to involve community members in visioning his proposed mixed-use development project in downtown’s warehouse district was the subject of a Marketplace radio segment aired over 500-plus public radio stations nationwide.
Lauren Allsopp, Ph.D., faculty associate at ASU’s School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning, is conducting an urban design workshop focusing on downtown’s warehouse district. The class is researching the district’s storied history, past developments positive and negative, and recommendations for the future.
The Hance Park Master Plan Design Team presented its interim design plan to a packed house at the Phoenix Art Museum. The final design plan will be unveiled on March 27 at a Hance Park Festival featuring live music, food, beer garden, and fun activities for young, old, and in-between.
In closing…That’s enough for now. Well, I take that back. Here are a few other things we found online that you’ll find interesting: downtown’s multitude of Best Of winners, co-working and makerspaces popping up in and around downtown, a birds-eye view of the Ground Cover Public Art Project installation (pictured above) and this fun time lapse video of downtown buildings and streetscapes.