DPJ was at the Sustainability Fair at the Phoenix Convention Center. Check out the scene below.
All photos by Greg Humphrey
If you enjoy living, working or playing in Downtown Phoenix, chances are you owe a thank you to the Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC). Formed as a result of a 2004 summit of Downtown stakeholders, the coalition has been working behind the scenes to ensure the continued growth of the core based upon existing local resources.
Coalition members are unabashedly dedicated to supporting the local, independent business owner over the big-box developer or out-of-town corporation. They are strong advocates for existing Downtown neighborhoods and residents, the arts community and the unique historic properties throughout Downtown Phoenix. These are interests that DVC feels have been lost in the rush to redevelop the core. In the words of Steve Weiss, Chair of DVC, “If not us, then whom?”
While DVC has been criticized in the past as being an insular group catering to like-minded people, this is due largely to the fact that the group is more interested in acting than promoting itself. And, these volunteers have indeed been busy. On any given issue affecting Downtown Phoenix, you will find DVC working with other community groups, meeting with city leaders, speaking at zoning hearings and serving on city committees. Some recent issues it has been involved in include extending the weekend hours for light rail, pushing for shade structures at the new ASU nursing building and saving the Sun Mercantile building (the last remaining historic Chinese-America building in Downtown) from a “façade-ectomy” that would have destroyed much of its authenticity. Despite the criticisms, DVC has been promoting its monthly meetings and publishing its agendas and minutes on its website for some time.
Anyone who is interested in Downtown Phoenix is encouraged to attend and participate in DVC’s monthly meetings, held the second Saturday of every month, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Roosevelt Commons meeting room. Each month they cover a variety of issues related to Downtown, and often feature guest speakers and other community groups.
For example, during the September meeting, the 20 or so people in attendance heard from Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona about the city’s adaptive reuse task force that is looking at ways to simplify the process of adapting existing buildings for new purposes. Lanning also talked about Local First’s upcoming 10% Shift campaign that will ask Arizonans to shift 10% of their current spending from national chains to local businesses. This change is estimated to create thousands of new jobs throughout the state while stimulating billions of dollars of new economic activity. Check back with DPJ for future news on both of these issues.
Next up on the September agenda was Carol Johnson from the City of Phoenix Planning Department, who was invited to update the coalition on the planned Jackson Street Entertainment District and the Downtown Urban Form guidelines. She also talked about the city’s general plan update, which is getting underway this fall. This year’s theme is “Imagine Phoenix in 2050 — What Do You See?” and will involve extensive public consultation at a series of public meetings to be held throughout the city between October 2009 and June 2010. To keep informed of the process, including upcoming meetings, residents are encouraged to join the PlanPhx mailing list or follow its Twitter feed.
Also discussed at the meeting was a follow up to the April 2004 summit. This event resulted in a document that outlined many of the priority issues that the coalition has been addressing over the past five years. Given all that has changed in and around Downtown since 2004, it was thought that it was time to hold another community event. Planning is still in its early stages, but DVC is exploring locations and dates for an early December event. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
Other business that was discussed included an overview of the upcoming Park(ing) Day activities in Downtown Phoenix on Friday, September 18; a brief introduction to an ASU project to create infill development in Downtown Phoenix; and a discussion of the economic and community impacts of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s contract renewals.
Overall, the meeting certainly lived up to its billing as a lively discussion of issues that matter to Downtown Phoenix. The next meeting will occur on October 10. The Roosevelt Commons meeting room is located at 825 N. 6th Ave.
A 12-lane bowling alley is coming to Downtown Phoenix in 2010 in what would seem to be an unlikely spot.
The Phoenix Business Journal reported on Friday that RED Development, the developer for CityScape has struck a deal with the Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge, a Hollywood-based entertainment concept, to bring a high-energy operation to the high-rise project. Inspired by the iconic Hollywood Star Lanes, the Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge operation has grown from its initial Hollywood location to 21 locations in 13 states.
You know First Friday has truly become an all-encompassing Downtown phenomenon when gallery spaces start popping up on the corner of 7th and Adams streets. Artist and Downtown resident Sean Deckert has spearheaded the effort to expand the art displays further southeast to Heritage Square, home to historically well-preserved spots like the Rosson House, Teeter House Tea Room, Rose and Crown Pub and, of course, pizza monolith Pizzeria Bianco. Deckert saw potential in the wide expanses, open-air feel and heavy foot traffic at the intersection while he was working as a bartender at Rose and Crown.
Searching. Changing. Transitional. Even hot. These were the chosen descriptions of today’s Phoenix at last week’s Radiate Phoenix event. The objective is to find out if these descriptions will change in the coming years.
Those interested in the future of the city of Phoenix met at Hanny’s last week to mingle with city planners in attempts to gauge what will happen here over the next 40-odd years. The city is in its beginning stages of planning how to focus its efforts for the next decade and beyond. What’s so special about that? This time the city is looking to the residents to find out how to focus these efforts. As expected, those in attendance had beaming, positive things to say about Phoenix along with an ever-growing list of gripes. Though much was said, some overall themes evolved throughout the night. Here is what the city of Phoenix needs to focus on in the years ahead:
- Small, unique business helps to define neighborhoods. Downtown has transitioned toward this movement in recent years, but other parts of the city need to become more involved.
- Continue to support the local art community. It has grown by leaps and bounds since the last city plan in 2000.
- Model Phoenix after European cities, or even East Coast cities such as Washington, DC. Mid-rise structures and urban infill have created a strong sense of community in these places.
- Allow Phoenix’s natural elements to shine: Encourage use of city parks and canals. Civic Space Park is a great starting point for urban parkspace.
- Most Phoenicians have easy access to freeways in 2009. The city must make sure plans are implemented for this to be true in 2050 as well, despite massive projected growth.
- Continue to promote alternate transportation options. Light rail will grow in the coming years. METRO‘s bus system, paired with trolley service and various shuttle services, help people move around town. Continued additions of bike lanes on city streets are also welcomed.
- Preserve Phoenix’s historic districts. Growth of the city has threatened these areas in recent years.
- Respect our habitat in the desert and make wise energy decisions. The Green Phoenix initiative is a starting point.
- Rezoning Downtown for higher density. The residents are starting to come, but how spread out will they be?
- Focus on establishing the identities of its newer neighborhoods, both near the city core and points further out.
- Establish a citywide vision that is actually followed for the duration of this next general plan.
The city will spend the next few months establishing the most pressing issues to focus on for this general plan. Stay tuned to DPJ for further updates as they unfold.
Radiate Phoenix is produced by Urban Affair, publisher of DPJ.