Here at DPJ, we’re all about sharing what we love. Beyond the stories that make us love downtown, we often come across things that catch our eye, tingle our senses or have us dancing in delight. “We Like…” turns a brief spotlight on the little treasures that make our day, with helpful links so you can share in the fun.
I love stumbling on secret delights in cities – the odd alleyway, a hidden bench behind a bushy shrub, or a work of art where you least suspect it. My early years in Phoenix were marked by dismay that I couldn’t get out and wander about as a pedestrian. I got a dog and walked my residential neighborhood, but I specifically craved city streets and their eccentricities.
There was, however, one thing about Phoenix that gave me hope for the great city it would become – its world class public art. Even 21 years ago when I first arrived, Phoenix was way ahead of the game in making art an integral part of its bones, especially given the irony that, at that time, the city was exploding with gruesome suburban sprawl.
But the public art was a revelation and, over the years, innovative public art throughout Phoenix has continued to shape the way our beautiful city feels. One of my favorite tucked-away examples in the heart of downtown is The Hohokam Camshaft Gates.
This wonderful, but easy-to-miss piece is a perfect combination of art and infrastructure. In 1994, Phoenix artists Bob Adams and Michael Maglich were commissioned to collaborate on the design and fabrication of gates for the loading area of the Phoenix Convention Center. They hit the nail on the head with a concept and execution that always makes me smile.
The spindles for the gates represent diesel truck camshafts, a nice nod to the importance of the trucking industry in the operation of the Convention Center. The masks that top the gates pay homage to the Hohokam people, the first Phoenix urban dwellers. The masks were sculpted by C. Matt Thomas and are enlarged reproductions from prehistoric Hohokam figurines. Kudos to everyone on this project!
The end result is a functional, but beautiful gate on the backside of the convention center, where visitors aren’t as likely to be wandering. It comes as a happy surprise for those who do stumble upon it. And when you stop and take it in, it tells an authentic story about this particular spot and the role it plays in our city. I love it because it isn’t grand, but it is integral. Stroll by and check it out. (A side note: when the Convention Center was renovated and expanded in the mid-2000s, half of the gate was moved to the Shemer Center.)
If You Go
What: The Hohokam Camshaft Gates
Where: Loading Dock Area – backside (east) of Phoenix Convention Center, on 5th Street between Jefferson and Washington Streets
Artists: Bob Adams, Michael Maglich
Want to share your love? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what YOU like.
Central Park. Hyde Park. Griffith Park. Millennium Park. All famous spots that have become integral to the cities they exist within. So what’s the defining park of Phoenix?
If you’re still searching for an answer, you’re not alone. But thanks to the efforts of what started as a small group of downtown citizens and has bloomed into the Hance Park Conservancy, the answer to that question may very soon be Margaret T. Hance Park.
The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with the Hance Park Conservancy, put out a call to professional design teams to submit their best ideas for a completely remodeled downtown park.
On Thursday, March 27, the master plans were revealed to an excited crowd at the park, just south of Burton Barr Central Library. Playing on a city that is large, sprawling, and interspersed into the natural geography, the proposed master plan for Hance Park will answer the vastness of Phoenix with its own buttes, ridges, and sprawling valleys.
Not to mention a beer garden, dog park, zip line, dedicated performance pavilion, a skate park, and a built-in irrigation system to support vegetation, among other new amenities. The proposed plan should reach completion in 10 years, at a budget of $118 million.
The selected team is comprised of locals and outsiders, with Lead Designer and Master Planner Jerry Van Eyck from !Melk, Prime Consultant Phil Weddle of Weddle Gilmore, and Landscape Architect Kris Floor of Floor Associates.
In order to keep the excitement and momentum set forth by the unveiling of the park’s plans, Weddle stressed the need to focus on the first set of changes coming to the space.
“We really need to focus on that catalytic first phase,” he said. “We believe that the most significant thing we can do is focus the early money on creating a signature gateway into the park at Central Avenue. That’s creating a vibrant urban plaza and the cloud that becomes the signature marker for this park.”
The cloud referred to is a collection of structures to be installed over Central Avenue marking the entrance to the park, and most resemble a small fleet of miniature alien space crafts, slowly descending upon the city.
Somewhat surprisingly, that $118 million price tag is reasonable when compared with parks of similar prominence throughout the United States. The cost breaks down to $3.7 million per acre, comparable to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, which came in at $3.2 million per acre. Even Phoenix’s Civic Space Park, although smaller, came in slightly higher at $5.2 million per acre.
As Weddle described, the master plan is a long-term vision that will be funded through mixed initiatives.
“We are proposing to fund it through a public-private partnership. It’s really the model that shows the community is invested in the park as much as the public entity is. It’s a smart investment; it creates economic benefits for our community.”
Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, reminded attendees of the unveiling event that the price tag is not as intimidating as it seems.
“We have invested between $4 and $5 billion dollars in this downtown, and we need to have this park finished,” she said.
“You know, Chicago didn’t just wake up one day as a great city; it was built by the people just like you who lived in Chicago. I’m not saying this is going to be easy. There’s going to be people who tell us we can’t afford this. I argue we can’t afford not to do this.”
According to Weddle, the next areas of focus will be working with the city and Hance Park Conservancy to expand programming within the park as it is today, because, as he says, “I think it’s really important to try and build the vibrancy as quickly as possible and not necessarily wait for construction.”
Building the vibrancy would include both larger events, such as concerts and festivals, and smaller, day to day activities, such as yoga in the park.
The team is also working to map out funding strategies going forward, as there is no dedicated funding for construction at the moment, according to Weddle.
“For the public funding to be allocated it’s going to need to continue to be a priority for the community, and continue to be a priority for the city council leadership,” he said, adding that the team also has plans to begin exploration for a private capital campaign to match the public funds.
In addition to the first phase renovations to the plaza and clouds over Central Ave, the team is planning on making improvements to the performance pavilion a top priority, as it allows for new programming and partnerships with art and cultural organizations downtown.
Rendering images from the Hance Park Master Plan Report, courtesy of City of Phoenix.
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.
A few weeks ago I visited with long-time Garfield Organization board members, Dana Johnson and Kim Moody, and had the chance to see the transformation of 11th Street in their neighborhood. Residents and community members can be extremely proud of the input they provided and the completed enhancements that now span 11th St. between Washington and Moreland streets, including: wider sidewalks with new accessible ramps to meet ADA specifications; 114 pedestrian-level street lights; 18 LED street light fixtures; shade trees to reduce radiant heat along the entire corridor; upgraded bus shelters with new seating, trash receptacles, and bicycle racks; specialty pavement with 10 historical elements related to the neighborhood around six bus stops and four seating areas; upgraded landscaping and irrigation system throughout the corridor; and new bike paths on 11th Street, running the entire length of the project. The endeavor was funded by a $2.4 million Federal Transit Administration Discretionary Grant with a local match of $600,000.
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE
Downtown Phoenix Journal has introduced a “Conversation” series penned by Jill Bernstein and featuring Downtown Phoenix, Inc. board of directors and other downtown stakeholders. These interviews are an excellent way to introduce downtown Phoenix leadership to the community, and to learn their respective views on Phoenix. Here’s the interview line-up to date: Jeri Jones (United HealthGroup), Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona), Mo Stein (HKS, Inc.), Ed Zuercher (City of Phoenix), Ed Zito (Alliance Bank) and Don Brandt (APS, pictured right). More to come, here on DPJ.
A CULTURALLY RICH MARCH
Let’s just say that early March was one for the record books for downtown Phoenix…with an amazing “VIVA PHX” music festival, First Fridays artwalk, and one-of-the-best-ever “Art Detours.” All on one weekend.
The Walter Studios Creative Art Center at 7th Avenue and Roosevelt held their grand opening and threw pies for a good cause. The Arizona Artist Collective which aims to connect businesses with artists has forged a new partnership.
On Saturday, March 15, the film “Cesar Chavez” was honored with an Audience Award in the Narrative Spotlight category at the 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, the annual music, film, and interactive conference in Austin, Texas. “Chavez” had its world premiere at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre on March 13. An estimated 1,400 people attended.
WELCOME SUPER BOWL XLIX
On Tuesday, March 18, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee announced several major initiatives that will take over 12 city blocks in downtown Phoenix and together will serve as the hub of fan, sponsor, media, and NFL activities for Super Bowl XLIX. This is a new addition to Arizona’s line-up of Super Bowl activities since the state last hosted the Super Bowl in 2008, and one million visitors are expected to participate.
COMING DOWNTOWN IS A SMART MOVE
In Mayor Greg Stanton’s State of the City Address, he included several references to downtown Phoenix, most notably two revolving around education: (1) a renewed commitment to supporting elementary and secondary school partnerships in and around central Phoenix and (b) news that the nationally ranked University of Arizona Eller College of Management will move to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus at 7th Street & Van Buren. To read the mayor’s full remarks, click here.
Help us tell the downtown Phoenix story with your Instagram account. “Project: Downtown Phoenix Stories” captures the hidden gems and beauty of Phoenix that you discover. Each weekend a new hashtag will be released on the Downtown Phoenix Instagram account. Take a picture in the theme, use the designated hashtag and share with the world. Selected photos will be featured each Monday on DowntownPhoenix.com.
Several friends and associates we have worked with closely at City Hall are moving on in their professional careers: John Chan in Community & Economic Development (CED) is returning to the Phoenix Convention Center (PCC). Hank Marshall is taking John’s position in CED. Debbie Cotton is moving from the PCC to Information Technology. Brendan Mahoney, Senior Policy Advisor to the Mayor, is heading back to the private sector and his law practice. Wylie Bearup, Street Transportation Director, has announced his retirement. And new to City Hall is Gail Brown, Administrator in the Office of Arts & Culture.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
“INSPIRED SOLES” ART SHOW AND AUCTION
6th Avenue Gallery exhibition features stilettos like you’ve never seen them before
Back for the third year, 6th Avenue Gallery presents the 2014 “Inspired Soles” art show, auction and raffle benefiting Artlink Phoenix. Local artists, designers and celebrities have transformed dozens of stilettos into works of art for an exhibition that gives new meaning to the term “well heeled.” See for yourself when the show debuts on First Friday in April and continues through First Friday in May.
FIRST FRIDAY DEBUT
The “Inspired Soles” stiletto art show will be unveiled at the April event and silent auction presented by 6th Avenue Gallery. Planned festivities include a silent auction of select pieces (remaining shoes will be raffled at the May show), live music, refreshments, mingling with the artists, and the opportunity to buy stilettos that are truly unmatched. By unmatched, we mean these artistic creations are sold as single pieces, not pairs…although we can occasionally accommodate requests for a matching pair if the design is wearable. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Artlink Phoenix, a nonprofit organization dedicated to linking artists, businesses and the public to better understand, appreciate and promote a thriving arts community in central Phoenix.
Inspired Soles stiletto art show will be open for private events and by appointment through April and May.
If You Go
Event: Inspired Soles Art Show and Auction
Location: 6th Avenue Gallery, 650 N. 6th Avenue (basement level) in downtown Phoenix, 85003
Date: First Friday Debut, April 4, 2014
- 6-10 p.m., Public Showing
- 6-9:30 p.m., Silent Auction
The Grand Avenue Arts District is a neighborhood on the rise. Set along the lower section of Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix, it is a place where arts and community converge.
Recent improvements resulting from the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals grant have left Grand Avenue a more beautiful pedestrian and bike-friendly place. The district is home to a range of businesses, including art galleries and studios, offices, restaurants and bars. It is also a major hub of activity for Artlink’s First and Third Friday Art Walks.
Part of this activity and growth can be attributed to the efforts of property owners like Tom and Laurie Carmody. The couple have championed real estate and redevelopment projects in multiple districts throughout downtown Phoenix, including in Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue and the Midtown District.
Currently, the Carmodys’ energy is focused on Grand Avenue, with a project called The Groove on Grand, located at 1028 NW Grand Ave., in the former location of The Paisley Violin.
No strangers to the neighborhood, they were part of the force behind the development of the Oasis on Grand, a vintage motor lodge transformed into an arts-focused residential community.
With The Groove, they hope to create a gathering place for people in the neighborhood and beyond. “We’re very engaged in the revitalization of the arts district on Grand, and we think that this can be a part of that— a place where the community could come together and meet, with food and wine, and where artists can participate,” says Laurie Carmody.
The layout of The Groove on Grand forms its own little neighborhood, with its main building facing the street, and a cluster of historic cottages situated around an expansive tree-shaded patio in the back.
The collection of brightly-colored cottages was once part of the World War II POW camps at Papago Park before they were salvaged and relocated by the Carmodys. In their new life, they house a variety of small businesses and studio spaces.
One of these is the Red House Pub, living up to its name with a small bar in a bright red cottage. The Red House serves beer and wine Tuesday through Saturdays, with different musicians and DJs every night.
Other residents of the Groove on Grand include Kustumz Hairshop; Grand Ol’ Optics, a vintage eyewear and eyeglass repair shop; The Citizen Royal, a women’s clothing and personal style boutique; Muse Gallery Boutique; artists’ studios and soon, a retail/wholesale coffee roaster. The historic 1930s main building houses an art gallery and designer chocolate shop, ib2 Chocolate.
On First and Third Fridays, The Groove hosts live music, food trucks and displays different featured artists throughout its buildings.
With the arts as the linchpin for Grand Avenue, The Groove is focused on supporting the artists who work and live in the neighborhood. “The more artists we have that are thriving, then the street thrives,” says Laurie.
“It’s a dynamic place. It has a lot of energy and people like to be involved in it, to be around it. And I think it’s creating a nice atmosphere to promote collaboration and communication between the neighbors and the street and the community.”