Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro
The education and performance venue, named after Phoenix-born jazz drummer Lewis Nash, is owned and operated by the non-profit Jazz in Arizona, familiarly known as Jazz in AZ. Board vice president Jeff Libman became involved with the organization as soon as he learned about plans for The Nash.
“The places I lived before are Chicago and New York City and then here,” says Libman, “and this place needed a jazz club — and bad.” He points out the wide range of musical experiences available at The Nash. “If this is going to be the one jazz club in Phoenix, we want everybody to have something they can appreciate here.” Libman adds, “And then, of course, we want to reach the people who said, ‘Hey, I had no idea that I like jazz…but I like this, and I discovered it here.’”
The Nash offers concerts through the summer on Friday and Saturday nights on the Contemporary and Mainstream Jazz series, as well as the occasional special event. Says Libman, “We wanted to say, ‘we’re open to different interpretations of jazz,’ because this ‘what is jazz?’ conversation is still going on in very interesting ways.”
He continues, “There does need to be some kind of boundary…we have a mission. This was supposed to be a jazz oasis in the desert…so one of the questions I ask about something that’s on the border is ‘Is this jazz-inspired? Does it have improvisation? Does it have swing? Are some of the musicians…jazz musicians who sometimes do other things, and this is their different side project?’” Libman smiles. “I think we get into trouble as an organization if we get too snooty or too particular about what [jazz] is.”
At Arizona State University Libman teaches jazz guitar and Jazz Lab, directs the Jazz Repertory Band, and coaches combos. He’ll complete his PhD this fall while maintaining an active performance schedule, playing on his own and in a contemporary jazz group called Running From Bears and regularly hosting jam sessions at The Nash.
The venue includes three back rooms for break-out sessions and workshops, as well as a recording booth. A tiny lobby leads into the open seating and stage area, where a curtain serves as the simple backdrop. The Nash’s gallery-lit walls carry themed art installations rotating every few months, and the sounds of downtown are faintly audible.
In its default table-seating configuration, The Nash holds 75, although without tables it can hold an audience of 120, allowing some groups to play without amplification. “If your jazz club gets too big it starts to feel like a concert hall; it’s not as intimate any more. So there’s a sweet spot of size,” says Libman. Without an elevated stage, the piano can be easily moved and the audience enjoys close proximity to the performers. “One of the reasons is sometimes we have a big band in here,” Libman adds, “and sometimes we have a big big band in here, and there’s somebody in the audience sitting here” — he pulls forward a chair in the front row– “and there’s a baritone sax player sitting here” — he gestures a few feet away. “So this allows us the flexibility.”
“If you want this visceral thing about being there and feeling connected with it more than perfect sight-lines, then this is the kind of room for you,” says Libman. “And I like that. There are trade-offs with everything.”
The Nash offers year-round private and group lessons, jam sessions every Saturday, and a wealth of affordable educational opportunities including workshops for all skill levels and instruments. Recent multi-week workshops featured “Singing Standards” — learning repertoire from the Great American Songbook — and “Playing on Changes,” a four-week introduction to improvising over chord changes.
Saxophonist Adam Roberts teaches “Electronics for Horn Players” on August 2 and the notation software workshop “Finale for Jazz Musicians” on August 9. Not every participant needs to be a performer; Libman himself led an “exposure” session on music history, appreciation, and listening.
The Nash’s 200 performances each year include the Catch a Rising Star series, which presents talented young artists and sometimes helps launch careers. First Fridays mean special free shows. “To be on the street is very powerful,” says Libman, “because this is a burgeoning arts district — we have 1500 people come in and out of the door on a First Friday.”
Libman particularly appreciates The Nash’s attraction for young listeners. “[It’s] one of the few places that I can think of where people who are under 21 years old are like, ‘We’re gonna go to jazz shows regularly.’”
The venue often welcomes all ages, but also holds a BYOB certificate, which allows patrons to bring a limited amount of alcohol for a small corkage fee, an arrangement which may change next year. “But we won’t do anything that makes it so you can’t be under 21 and come here on a regular bases,” Libman assures me. “There are some compromises we’re unwilling to make.”
“We feel like this whole artistic energy in Phoenix is starting to coalesce and grow,” he says, “and we just want to get in and be a part of that.”
If you go:
Visit: The Nash
Address: 110 E. Roosevelt St.
For more: thenash.org – 602-795-0464
In June, the City Council approved a new parking ordinance for downtown Phoenix that established several new parking zones, and will introduces dynamic pricing in certain areas. We sat down with Ray Dovalina, City of Phoenix Street Transportation Director, Thomas Godbee, Deputy Street Transportation Director, and Scott Logan, Traffic Engineering Supervisor in the Traffic Services Division to learn more about the planned implementation of this program.
Like many we had heard the soundbites of changing and increasing rates, and wanted to get a better understanding of what this dynamic pricing plan will look like. And, more importantly, how will it actually affect people who want and need to park downtown?
The goal of this new parking program according to Dovalina is “not only to generate revenue for the city, but to manage the increased demand for parking, both long-term and short-term, and to increase turnover in certain areas.” In the new program, the downtown has been divided into four zones:
- Zone 1 (Sports Venues), from Lincoln St. to Jefferson St. and 1st Ave. east to 7th St.
- Zone 2 (Central Core), from Jefferson St. to Fillmore St, and 1st Ave. to 7th St.
- Zone 3 (Government), from Lincoln St. to Fillmore St., and 1st Ave. to 7th Ave.
- Future Zone 4 (Neighborhood/Arts), from Fillmore St. to Moreland (two blocks north of Roosevelt St.), and 7th Ave. to 7th St.
The chart below shows both the lowest and the highest possible rates in each Zone. Note that one benefit of the new program will be a reduction in rates in the coin-operated metered parking in Future Zone 4. In this area, the price will drop from the current $1.50/hour to $1.00/hour to make paying with coins easier.
So how will this all work? First, the program will be implemented in two phases. During phase one, which will roll out in August, pricing will remain at the current rate of $1.50/hour, but meter hours will be extended from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm every day, including holidays.
Just to be clear, the city will not be changing prices randomly throughout the day; by and large there will be a standard hourly rate for daytime parking and another rate for evening parking.
In order to effectively accomplish this transition, the city is purchasing and installing 680 new single pay credit card parking meters in Zone 1. These credit card machines are popular with the public because they eliminate the need to have a pocketful of coins readily available. And the wireless technology in these meters will enable the phase two dynamic pricing plan to work.
The current goal is for the new credit card meters to be installed by August 4, but if the machines don’t quite arrive in time, the back up plan is to install them after the downtown ASU student move-in days of August 17 and 18.
Phase two will roll out in October/November and will incorporate the new dynamic pricing. The idea behind dynamic pricing is not as quixotic as it appears at first glance. Many cities are now doing this and it seems to be working.
Just to be clear, the city will not be changing prices randomly throughout the day; by and large there will be a standard hourly rate for daytime parking and another rate for evening parking. The dynamic pricing will come into play when there are events downtown.
The dynamic rates will be both higher than current rates, and lower than current rates, and will be determined based on three categories:
- Non-event days/nights
- Event days/nights
- Super event days/nights (when several large events are happening simultaneously)
Dovalina estimates that there are approximately 250 days of events downtown and this new pricing will reflect the demands on parking that these events create. Eventually, Godbee notes, “You will even be able to feed your meter wirelessly, using your cellphone.” But that’s a story for another day.
As an aside, there is ongoing planning to create a small area around ASU from 4th Avenue to 5th Street and from Van Buren to McKinley where meter rates will potentially be kept at a set rate for more hours, and will not necessarily be affected by dynamic pricing. Those details are still being worked out and we’ll clarify the plan once these decisions have been reached.
…[the City] has recognized the need for a comprehensive parking strategy for downtown and they will be hiring a new Parking Manager in August who will be tasked with creating this strategy. Additionally, they will be hiring a new public information officer (also in August) who will help communicate the new plan to the public.
Dovalina, Godbee, Logan and the rest of the staff are working hard to ensure that the signs and meters are clearly labeled and easy to understand as Phase two is rolled out. Additionally, they have been working with other city departments, the local courts, the police, neighborhood and business groups, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and ASU to make sure that everyone understands how this new program will work.
As the city has grown, the Street Transportation Department has recognized the need for a comprehensive parking strategy for downtown and they will be hiring a new Parking Manager in August who will be tasked with creating this strategy. Additionally, they will be hiring a new public information officer (also in August) who will help communicate the new plan to the public.
What will a successful program look like? According to Logan, an 85% usage rate is the ideal. This equates to one spot on either side of the street being open at any given time. If usage goes above that percentage, rates will need to be raised, and if usage falls below that percentage, rates will need to be lowered.
As Godbee says, “There’s no point in having meters in areas where no one wants to park.” Another success factor will be turnover. Godbee continued, “We want to avoid having people park in front of businesses downtown for extended periods of time. We want it to be easier to find a space, not more difficult.”
At first blush, the program is a little complicated, but the intended result is greater turnover in short term parking spaces in the city core, more revenue for the city, and less long term space squatting. The department will assess the program yearly and make needed adjustments to pricing to make it work effectively for the public, businesses, events and the city.
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.
The boards of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) and Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) continue to work on the legal documents that will allow the full consolidation of our operations this summer. We are also working closely starting this summer with the Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill communities as they evaluate the opportunity to establish a second Business Improvement District.
I want to thank Ed Zuercher, Phoenix City Manager and DPI Board Member, for his calm, steady leadership in advancing a new budget for the City of Phoenix. Remarkably while city-wide tax revenue continues to stagnate, revenue from the downtown area has dramatically accelerated supporting services all over the city. Might there be lessons we have learned downtown that could be applied in other parts of our city? This is something to ponder and discuss at future get-togethers.
The Downtown Phoenix Journal “Conversation” series consists of interviews with DPI board of directors and other downtown stakeholders. DPJ Associate Editor Jill Bernstein sat down with Mike Ebert, a founding partner of RED Development, the real estate development firm responsible for building the two-block CityScape project.
A Building Revival
The University of Arizona and City of Phoenix announced plans to construct a $136-million research building on the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The 10-story Biosciences Partnership Building will be situated at Seventh and Fillmore streets, just south of the Arizona Cancer Center now under construction.
Habitat Metro and Sunbelt Holdings announced plans to build Portland on the Park, a $75 million condominium development. Portland on the Park will feature 170 units, ranging in size from 745 to 2,381 square feet, in towers of four, 12, and 14 stories.
Groundbreaking for the new Arizona State University Arizona Center for Law and Society on the block in-between Polk and Taylor and First and Second streets is scheduled for July 7, 2014 (although the date of the groundbreaking ceremony has yet to be scheduled).
A Home to Serve Others
BHHS Legacy Foundation has created a convenient and cost-effective space in midtown Phoenix to house non-profit organizations whose mission is to improve healthcare for people in need. Legacy Place at 360 E. Coronado Rd. is home to the Legacy Foundation, Legacy Connection, Experience Matters, ALS Association (Arizona chapter), National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, and Mission of Mercy. Room is available for other similar non-profits.
DPI and DPP representatives testified before two Phoenix City Council subcommittees on issues that have been recognized as key priorities of DPI’s Community Advisory Panel and the boards of DPI, DPP, and Phoenix Community Alliance. Under the “improving connectivity” banner, overall support with a couple suggestions was given on the Downtown Phoenix Comprehensive Transportation Plan before the Downtown, Aviation, and Redevelopment Subcommittee. Regarding “improving place,” overall support to the Neighborhoods, Housing, and Development Subcommittee was given for a pilot program to develop additional parklets in the downtown core and Grand Avenue. A parklet is a small space that serves as an extension of a sidewalk to provide amenities and green space for people using the street and sidewalk. The first example in Phoenix is located in front of Matt’s Big Breakfast in the Evans Churchill neighborhood.
On May 12 we lost a strong and tireless advocate for Phoenix’s neighborhoods. Donna Neill, founder and long-time head of the Neighborhood Activity Inter-Linked Empowerment Movement (NAILEM), a neighborhood organization based in west Phoenix’s Westwood area, died after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Donna was a force of nature and will be sorely missed.
Music to My Ears
I’m continually amazed at the “hidden gems” I hear about someone, some place, or something unique in and around our downtown that, really, everyone should know about. Here are two music-related gems I’ll spring on you: Chaton Studios, a recording studio near the Coronado Neighborhood where records are made with some of the music industry’s biggest names, and the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery on Grand Avenue, one of the top guitar making schools in the nation.
On Saturday, May 17, thousands of urban adventurists toured 20 light rail corridor restaurants during the 8th Urban Wine Walk. Attendance shattered previous records.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events: Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix Convention Center, June 5-8 ~ First Friday Artwalk, June 6 2014 Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, Phoenix Convention Center, June 6.
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 should always assume that things can be better.”
Cindy Dach wears half a dozen hats at least and has been a key player in the revitalization of the Roosevelt Row area. She is a board member of Downtown Phoenix, Inc.; co-owner and general manager of Changing Hands Bookstore, which is about to open a Phoenix location in Uptown (Camelback Road and 3rd Avenue); owner of Made Art Boutique on Roosevelt and 5th Ave.; co-founder of Eye Lounge, a contemporary artists run collective on Roosevelt Street; co-founder of Arizona Chain Reaction (now Local First Arizona); co-founder and board member of the Roosevelt Row CDC; and one of the driving forces behind the annual Pie Social, the RoRo Chili Festival, and the Feast on the Street, just to name a few.
She and her partner, Greg Esser, moved to Phoenix from Denver in the mid-nineties and immediately set about seeking community. Even finding brunch back in those days was a challenge. “We always ended up at IHop, because there weren’t any other choices,” said Dach. They began taking steps to build the community they craved by creating Eye Lounge, which was originally an artist collective exhibiting at various locations.
After a while, they discovered inexpensive property in a blighted area along Roosevelt Street, and in 2001 they bought a building, rolled up their sleeves and create a permanent gallery for Eye Lounge. In reflecting on that time, Dach said, “Wayne Rainey and Kimber Lanning had begun doing things on Roosevelt then as well. We didn’t originally know each other, but we were all focused on creating a place for the arts and artists, and so we found each other.”
The impact of creating a community for artists and the arts on Roosevelt has been exponential. First Fridays went from a few hundred urban pioneers willing to seek out galleries on Jackson Street, Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue, and exploded during those early years. Thousands of people now flock to Roosevelt and the area supports several galleries, retail stores, coffee houses, and restaurants.
“We didn’t originally know each another, but we were all focused on creating a place for the arts and artists, and so we found each other.“
Along the way, Dach and her cohorts established the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization to further the unique cultural character and creative assets of the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Fellow Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill District neighbors worked together to create innovative grassroots community building events, such as the annual Pie Social, and the Chili Festival.
In addition to infusing the area with the arts, Dach and others recognized the negative impact of the empty lots and created A.R.T.S. (Activated Reuse of Temporary Spaces) initiatives to focus on activating these dead spaces. To date these programs have included the creation of a temporary A.R.T.S. Market on First Fridays, the development of the innovative Valley of the Sunflowers project, and support of The Lot: What Should Go Here? Pop Up Park at 2nd Street and Roosevelt.
Dach believes that the development of the ASU Downtown campus and the coming of light rail have been key to the rebirth of the area. “It started with the nursing school. Suddenly you noticed lots of young women with ponytails out and about,” says Dach, laughing. “But as more and more of the schools moved downtown they brought a whole range of young people into the neighborhood,” she continues. “And they are looking for things to do and places to hang out.”
Dach believes that Downtown Phoenix, Inc. can make Phoenix more competitive. “The ratings system for development is good and DPI can help us grow the city in a smarter way.” Her advice for the organization? “DPI needs to allow for diversity in the widest possible sense to participate in change-making.” As she puts it, “We should always assume that things can be better.”
Cindy Dach, along with fellow DPI board members, Kimber Lanning, and Tim Eigo represent a powerful, grassroots movement that has brought a whole new kind of energy and promise to downtown. Their place at the table speaks to the impact they’ve had in creating the community they were seeking all those years ago.
In addition to her commitment to Roosevelt Row, Cindy is a staunch supporter of bringing a great bookstore to central Phoenix. It took eight years for Tempe-based Changing Hands to find the right location and circumstances to open a Phoenix store. Dach is confident that Phoenix can support the venture. “Phoenix is ready for a bookstore, but I think we have some bad habits to break.” She explains, “It’s very obvious and for good reason the Phoenix community has been buying their books online. I hope they don’t experience sticker shock and that they realize that it’s not just the book they are buying at full retail value, they’re buying the experience, they’re buying the store, they’re buying the bookseller who’s going to recommend the book.”
“But as more and more of the schools moved downtown they brought a whole range of young people into the neighborhood. And they are looking for things to do and places to hang out.”
Ultimately, Dach believes that Phoenix is not only ready, but deserves a great bookstore. “Phoenix deserves another great community gathering place; we have some great gathering places, but we’re ready for another model and I think the bookstore could be it.”
When did Dach realize that Phoenix was her place? She says it wasn’t one moment, but a series of little moments. “I remember working on Eye Lounge and going to Portland’s covered in dust and having conversations with people about what downtown needs. I began to feel like maybe I do have a place here. It really was like ‘if you build it they will come.’ I began to feel that I did have a purpose, to be involved, and that it’s fun to be involved.”
Dach believes that one of the most amazing things about Phoenix is the people. You say ‘hey, I have shovels and we need to clear this lot’ and, lo and behold, they show up. Phoenix just wants to know how to help.”
When asked about the possibility of an Enhanceed Municipal Services District for the Roosevelt area, Dach said, “In my head it can be great to see a community being able to take care of itself, because these services just don’t exist now. You can whine and complain and ask for them, but they’re not coming and at the end of the day it’s going to come down to the community having dialogue. What I love about the process we’re about to enter, it’s going to be the best way to engage everyone.”