As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“We’re alive, vibrant, open for business.”
He understands the impact DPP has had on the 90-square block urban core since its inception in 1990. He also sees that times have changed, and that to take the next step in developing a vibrant downtown it was important to look beyond the boundaries of the DPP BID (business improvement district) and recognize the significance of connectivity throughout downtown to ensure the long-term vibrancy and sustainability of our city center. That’s where, he believes, an umbrella organization like Downtown Phoenix, Inc. can have an impact.
Butler grew up in San Manuel, a small mining town northeast of Tucson. He attended U of A and spent the first few years of his career in Tucson before relocating to Phoenix in 1995. Since that time he’s worked in downtown and had a front row seat for all of the changes over the last two decades.
Game-changing elements in downtown according to Butler include the development of CityScape, the light rail and the growth of both ASU and the U of A medical school. When he became the managing partner at Ernst & Young in 2008 they were nearing the end of their lease in the Renaissance building and they had to make a big decision to stay downtown or move elsewhere. They’d been in downtown for many years, but perhaps it was time for a change.
“The younger employees want to live downtown and up through the Central corridor.“
“As a result of the marketplace in 2008, it was a good time to be looking,” said Butler. They looked everywhere – Midtown, the Camelback/Biltmore area, and Scottsdale, but in the end the excitement about what was happening downtown convinced them that was where they needed to be. “At that time, I was on the Downtown Phoenix Partnership board and I loved what we were doing downtown,” said Butler. “We had cheaper alternatives and could have moved, but we saw what was happening here: CityScape was just coming out of the ground and ASU was giving birth to its vision of coming downtown. My executive team and I decided it was important to be a part of that momentum.”
“The average age in our firm is around 30 years old. Each year we recruit 20% of our workforce from Arizona universities to work in our audit, tax, and consulting services,” said Butler. He recognizes that these are the people who appreciate being able to live and work downtown, taking the light rail, riding their bikes, going to the restaurants, music venues, coffee houses, art openings, etc. “We have mandatory retirement at 58, so we are always building that pipeline. The younger employees want to live downtown and up through the Central corridor. And for that reason, light rail has been a game-changer.” He sees that having their headquarters in downtown has made it easy for these younger employees to live, work and enjoy downtown.
Additionally, much of their work involves entertaining clients and being downtown makes it easy, with access to sporting venues, music, restaurants and hotels all within a short walk from their offices. “Having a place to have a breakfast or dinner meeting is really important. Back in 2008 if we had a client that was coming in, there was a limit to where we could take them. We’re still short a few, and I’d like to see it change, but it’s improved a lot.”
“We all saw that in spite of the investment we’d made over the last twenty years, if there wasn’t a game or an event, after 5:30 the streets would clear out. So the question became, what do you focus on to make things happen?”
How do the other DPP board members see the development of DPI? “They’re all stakeholders down here. We all saw that in spite of the investment we’d made over the last twenty years, if there wasn’t a game or an event, after 5:30 the streets would clear out. So the question became, what do you focus on to make things happen?” said Butler. “CityScape was a game-changer. That brought attention to a sleepy downtown corridor, but what was next? How do you reach beyond the boundaries of the BID (business improvement district) to foster growth and vitality in the core?” DPI provides a way for DPP to continue to serve its immediate constituents and to be a part of the larger conversation and initiatives to build the downtown we want.
Butler sees the Super Bowl as an opportunity for downtown to show the world that “we’re alive, vibrant, open for business and we can fulfill you needs for entertainment, dining, lodging, as well as arts and culture.” He also sees the Super Bowl as a chance to test some of the “scaling up” that Butler believes needs to happen with law enforcement, hospitality, and services. He’s excited about the opportunity, but cautious as well.
So, in Butler’s opinion, what does come next? “We’re going to have to really work hard to have more venues down here that people want to go to,” said Butler, “and we’re going to have to get people down here first. We need service providers, eye doctors, dentists, clinics, grocery stores, etc.”
He knows that DPI cannot be everything to everybody, but this kind of umbrella organization has worked well in other cities and it will be good for downtown Phoenix as well. And six years on he still feels good about his decision to keep Ernst & Young in their downtown location. “When our clients see what’s happening down here, downtown becomes a much higher choice on their list of places to go.”
Just prior to rapelling the 27 stories of CityScape tower in downtown Phoenix, Rowley proposed to his now fiancée Kristin.
The couple were two of the 160 thrill-seekers who rapelled to raise funds for Special Olympics Arizona athletes.
Sponsors CityScape Phoenix and RED Development hosted the event at its offices, where participants who have raised more than $1,000 have the opportunity to experience Phoenix from new heights. Spectators, friends and family were encouraged to experience the launch for themselves at the today’s event. Read more about the event here.
Congratulations Jason and Kristin!
Whether you prefer to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit or rebel against the trappings of the season, you’ll find your fun downtown with a few of Phoenix’s quirkier activities. Adults-only theater pushes the envelope with A Bloody Mary Christmas while unique Christmas light tours appeal to all ages, and puppetry and dance shows keep kids jolly.
Ballet Arizona offers the usual fairies and sugarplums at Symphony Hall with its spectacular, highly acclaimed production of The Nutcracker (through December 28), reinvented a few years ago by artistic director Ib Andersen. Tchaikovsky’s familiar music performed by The Phoenix Symphony can’t be beat, and a family four-pack includes parking, premium seats, a photo with the Sugarplum Fairy and hot cocoa.
If you prefer the music of a different Russian, try Snow Queen at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West (through Dec. 21), choreographed by Frances Smith Cohen and presented by Center Dance Ensemble. Hans Christian Andersen’s tale comes to life with melodies by Sergei Prokofiev. Take a midday work break, buy or bring your lunch, and sample the Lunch Time Dance Theater option for only $6.
In addition to the occasional wickedly subversive 18+ puppet slam, Great Arizona Puppet Theater provides a steady stream of funny shows for children young and old. The Night Before Christmas (through December 28) features joyful music and stories.
For those who love cinema, FilmBar offers a glorious month full of movies in an intimate 70-seat venue with the added bonus of a beer and wine bar (alcohol with popcorn — what could be better?). December’s options include The Captive, The Babadook, Bad Santa and Free the Nipple (both on the Naughty & Nice Film Series), Awake: The Life of Yogananda, and the incomparable Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Foreign films include Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (El ángel exterminador) and Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le metro as a double feature. And don’t miss Opera at FilmBar — December 19 brings Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, starring a sparkling Joyce DiDonato and the yummy Juan Diego Flórez.
The calendar’s packed at Crescent Ballroom, where Cocina 10’s food and drink are complemented by the stories of Chow Bella’s Eating Christmas (December 16). For a canned food donation you’ll hear food-themed tales of holiday adventure (for ages 21 and older). Otherwise, try “Life’s a Drag. Party Like a Queen” (December 18) with interactive games, “Truth, Drag or Dare,” and drink specials all hosted by Olivia Gardens.
Phoenix Theatre serves a full plate of seasonal cheer with Holiday Classics From Screen to Stage (December 18-21), when Arizona Opera singers croon holiday favorites from films like Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, A Charlie Brown Christmas and more. Vocalist Dennis Rowland takes the stage with the Greg Warner Project and special guest Diana Lee for the Holiday Jazz Cabaret (December 22-24) and a range of Christmas classics. And you’re sure to have a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins (through December 28), an eye-popping fast-paced feast of color, song, dance, and special effects including Valley favorite Toby Yatso as a tap-dancing, levitating chimney sweep.
Back in the realm of adults-only entertainment, Space 55 pulls out all the stops for the fifth year of A Bloody Mary Christmas (through December 21), in which Sun City retirees sing, dance, and battle a heartless homeowners’ association. Set to original music by Dangerville and Samson Says, Bloody Mary showcases Toni Jourdan, Lee Quarrie, Paula McKenny and Bob Peters. 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe (December 20) gives local performers their seven minutes in the sun with an opportunity to do whatever they want — interpretive dance, dinosaur burlesque, competitive doughnut eating, action figure battles…even naked stage magic. Who knows what you’ll see?
Other Space 55 shows include Storyline: A Winter’s Tale (December 19), part of a monthly storytelling showcase, and Resolutions! A new show for an old year (December 31), a good warm-up for your New Year’s Eve party or downtown’s Flannel Ball.
“Hip Historian” Marshall Shore brings a big yellow school bus to The Clarendon Hotel as the launch point for his Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23). “We cruise through Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa,” says Shore. “I curate for the most jaw-dropping displays that I can locate.” Join in the caroling and live music with your very own kazoo (provided), or sit back and enjoy Shore’s talents as a storyteller while you see commercial, private home and religious displays.
If you go:
- Ballet Arizona: The Nutcracker (through December 28)
- Center Dance Ensemble: Snow Queen (through December 21)
- at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West, 222 E. Monroe
- visit centerdance.com or call 602-252-8497
- Great Arizona Puppet Theater: The Night Before Christmas (through December 28)
- in the GAPT’s lovely renovated historic 1929 LDS 2nd Ward Church, 302 W. Latham
- visit azpuppets.org or call 602-262-2050
- 815 N. 2nd St.
- visit thefilmbarphx.com or call 602-595-9187
- Crescent Ballroom and Cocina 10
- 308 N. 2nd Ave.
- visit crescentphx.com or call 602-716-2222
- Phoenix Theatre
- 100 E. McDowell Rd.
- visit phoenixtheatre.com or call 602-254-2151
- Space 55
- 636 E. Pierce St.
- visit space55.org
- “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore: Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23)
Schedules are subject to change. For more holiday diversions visit DowntownPhoenix.com:
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
160 Supporters to Go ‘Over the Edge’ of 27-story Phoenix Tower
Rappelers Seek Thrills at CityScape to Benefit Special Olympics Arizona Athletes
In an unconventional fundraising effort for Special Olympics Arizona, 160 thrill-seekers will rappel 27 stories in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s event is sure to soar to new heights with supporters such as Dallas Cowboys Announcer Kevin Ray.
Sponsors CityScape Phoenix and RED Development host the event at its offices, where participants who have raised more than $1,000 have the opportunity to experience Phoenix from new heights. Spectators, friends and family are encouraged to experience the launch for themselves at the Dec. 13 event.
“It’s fantastic to host something that pulls the community together and builds awareness in a nontraditional way,” Tim Martin, CEO of Special Olympics Arizona, said. “The increased interest we receive every year is a true testament to Phoenix’s dedication to helping Special Olympics Arizona and our athletes.”
Each participant, with the $1,000 fundraising goal, will be able to support two Special Olympics Arizona Athletes throughout 2015. Participants must meet the weight requirement between 100 and 300 pounds in order to rappel off CityScape. Those under the age of 18 will need a parent signed waiver. All proceeds will benefit Special Olympics Arizona.
“We’re honored to share our building for such a great cause,” said Jeff Moloznik, vice president of development at RED Development. “‘Over the Edge’ has grown into a signature event that our team looks forward to, and each year we’re exceedingly inspired by the participants who not only come out to rappel down the building, but also raise invaluable awareness for Special Olympics Arizona.”
Special Olympics Arizona provides every person with intellectual disabilities a place of welcome, acceptance and the chance to be their best. The organization’s mission is to empower over 180,000 Arizonans with intellectual disabilities to be healthy, productive and respected members of society through sports training, competitions and support programs.
For more information on how to rappel “Over the Edge,” visit www.specialolympicsarizona.org. For more information on CityScape Phoenix, a retailer directory and a parking map, visit www.cityscapephoenix.com. Ample and convenient underground parking is available for the day of the event and validated by most tenants.
Photos courtesy of Special Olympics Arizona.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Announces ‘Verizon Super Bowl Central’
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee formally announced today that Verizon will be the ‘Official Wireless Service and Solutions Provider’ of the Host Committee, as well as the title sponsor of Verizon Super Bowl Central. The Host Committee also unveiled the official Verizon Super Bowl Central logo, which will be seen prominently by the estimated one million attendees who will enjoy all the Super Bowl XLIX festivities in Downtown Phoenix.
Verizon is a major sponsor of the National Football League and Super Bowl. Now, it extends that relationship to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
Verizon Super Bowl Central will be the hub of fan, media and sponsor activity, as well as entertainment from January 28 through February 1, 2015 in Downtown Phoenix. Located adjacent to the NFL Experience engineered by GMC and the Super Bowl Media Center presented by Microsoft, the 12-city block, free, pedestrian- and family-friendly, football-themed, outdoor fan campus will be the epicenter of Super Bowl XLIX activities and events.
Verizon Super Bowl Central will feature a multitude of daily activities including free, outdoor performances by national recording artists and local musicians, an autograph stage, nightly fireworks shows, the iconic Super Bowl XLIX Roman Numerals, as well as the Host Committee’s recently unveiled 20 ft. super-sized football and a beer garden. Verizon Super Bowl Central also will be the broadcasting headquarters to both national and local media outlets. Verizon will have a major presence at Verizon Super Bowl Central, so fans can engage with the latest technology, products and services. Fans will learn about NFL Mobile from Verizon from the league’s best players and feel the intensity of the game with cutting edge virtual reality.
“The fan experience is one of the most important parts of Super Bowl week, and together with the Host Committee, we are delighted to make it even better,” said Jay Jaffin, Vice President of Marketing Communications for Verizon Wireless. “Verizon has a long history with both the NFL and Arizona, so this was a natural step to deliver not only great wireless service, but super-fun activities for everyone coming to enjoy the game.”
“Joining forces with a powerhouse like Verizon will enhance the fan experience and keep them connected while at Verizon Super Bowl Central,” said Jay Parry, President and CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee. “This is just the beginning of many more exciting announcements to come to make this a very fan-centric Super Bowl.”
In addition to being the title sponsor of Verizon Super Bowl Central, Verizon’s sponsorship includes participation in the Host Committee’s CEO Forum to encourage economic development. Verizon is one of Arizona’s largest employers.
Image courtesy of the NFL.