There is so much going on during First Friday on Grand Avenue that you may miss a thing or two. Oftentimes, it’s the little nooks and crannies of the galleries, warehouses, back yards and makeshift art lots that provide the best visitor experience. Here’s a thrilling roundup of all of Grand’s happenings for February First Friday.
Bragg’s Pie Factory (1301 NW Grand Ave.), home to Fractal, Modern Cat and several other cool spots, is showing an exhibit of paintings and sculpture by local artist Luis Gutierrez in its main room facing Grand.
It’s not often an artist from Upstate New York shows in Phoenix, so you know it’s going to be good. From 6 to 9 p.m., “City Scapes” by Peter Liepke will be shown at Tilt Gallery (919 W. Fillmore St.) Peter will be visiting for questions and conversation. His work has been featured in multiple publications, and he was recently nominated in the 2010 International Black & White Spider Awards.
Hungry yet? Valley Pizza (1348 W. Roosevelt St.) is offering a 14″ two-topping pizza and a whole pound of boneless buffalo wings for $20. Plus, they feature a pizza called The Monsoon, so how can you go wrong? Down the street at the Paisley Violin (1028 NW Grand Ave.), dinner and music is the theme of the night. Featured artist Tiffany Greer and jazz trio Crooning Avant Garde will be on hand, as well as music from indie/Americana vocalist Anjonette. Sapna Café (1301 NW Grand Ave.) is serving up its globespanning dishes throughout the evening (and it’s BYOB!)
On the corner of 15th Avenue, Bikini Lounge (1502 NW Grand Ave.) is always pouring drinks, Sweets & Beats (1504 NW Grand Ave.) dishes out, well, sweets and beats until 11 p.m. and Kooky Krafts (1500 NW Grand Ave.) has all kinds of kitchy trinkets — think tiki dolls, fish bowls, crafting supplies and more — until 10 p.m.
One of the better aspects of Grand has always been its eclectic mix of tunes, and this week is no exception. Boys and Frogs will be holding down the fort at the PHiX (1113 NW Grand Ave.) with its blend of tight, melodic rock. Phoenix Fall Space (1023 NW Grand Ave.) will have live jams by Midnight Workshop and art by Denise Fleisch and Jimi Girdner. And, Paisley Town, across the street in the back yard of the Paisley Violin, always has some sort of performance going on. Speaking of Paisley Town, Butter Toast boutique, one of several businesses in the space, will be open until 10:30 and is offering 10% off any customer that mentions the Grand Avenue Merchants Association. Stock up now!
For more information on Grand Avenue First Friday festivities, visit GrandAvePhoenix.com.
February 1 marked the 16th annual DREAMR (Downtown Revitalization Effort Awards of Merit and Recognition) awards program at the Phoenix Convention Center. Sure, it’s great to get a bunch of Downtown visionaries under one roof to recognize the important efforts each have made for Downtown to be what is it today. But, it’s truly best to honor a few of the individuals that have been around the longest, seen the most and fought the hardest. That’s where the DREAMRs come in.
The DREAMRs “honor the individuals, projects and organizations that dare to dream and work to make those dreams come true.” That may sound a bit vague, but the basic premise of the awards luncheon, presented by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, is to recognize those that have “cleaned up” Downtown — wiped away the blight and replaced it with shiny new buildings, commerce and business-minded tenants and retail space.
Downtown’s skyline is changing (now, to focus on mid-rise affordable living!), and that deserves to be recognized. Keynote speakers Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona and Matt Lehrman of ShowUp.com both urged the attendees to support locally owned businesses and explore all the hidden gems that Downtown Phoenix has to offer. After hopefully inspiring the room, the awards presentations got underway. Here is a recap of the day’s winners.
Private Sector Individual: Mike Ratner. Ratner owns Tom’s Tavern, which has sat inauspiciously on Washington Street for 80 years. It has survived countless recessions, building booms and busts and many plans for the zero/zero block at Central and Washington, and it has survived because it gives combines elements so few places can — friendly service, comfortable atmosphere, quality food and good bargains. Ratner is hoping to see a spike in customers (and hours of operation) once CityScape‘s phases are up and rolling.
Public Sector/Non-Profit Individual: Don Keuth. Keuth is the President of the Phoenix Community Alliance, which is responsible for a number of private sector advances in Central Phoenix. In short, PCA has helped our skyline grow, our infill projects sprout up and our streets get clean. With Keuth at the helm, the advancement will surely continue.
Organization: Phoenix Mercury. You can’t argue that the Mercury is our most consistent franchise. Don’t forget that they’re the ones hoisting the championship banners, not the Suns, D’Backs, Cardinals or Coyotes. The Mercury has experienced steady growth over its 13 seasons in the WNBA, and the success is apparent. There are few other markets that can draw the kind of WNBA crowds the Mercury consistently does.
Program/Project: Freeport McMoRan Center. It was once called Central Park East, but with Freeport McMoRan moving a bit north to occupy the new build project on Central and Van Buren, the glassy tower has established a true identity. Coupled with a forthcoming Westin business-class hotel, the building will further advance Downtown Phoenix’s business reputation.
“Unsung Hero”: Frank Fairbanks. Fairbanks saw more than his fair share of blight during his two-decade tenure as city manager. He accomplished so much, most notably helping to revitalize Downtown Phoenix with ASU’s Downtown campus, the Convention Center expansion and light rail implementation. It’s safe to say the city core is a better place thanks to all of Fairbanks’ efforts.
Visionary: R. Neil Irwin. Irwin, an attorney by day, is the only chairman in the Downtown Phoenix Partnership’s 20-year run, so his announcement to leave his post earlier this year is certainly a big deal. Irwin oversaw countless advancements in the organization and Downtown’s revitalization, earning the DREAMR’s highest honor.
From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the fourth floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
618 N. 5th Ave. in Roosevelt
Sitting on the patio at Cibo, you may have noticed a quaint little stuccoed apartment complex directly across 5th Avenue. Though it may look younger than most 82-year-olds, this two-winged complex has been on site since 1928. Dubbed Fifth Ave Court (a rugged, Wild West-like sign still hangs over the peaked entrance today), it is one of the Roosevelt district’s original apartment complexes. Remarkably, little has changed in eight-plus decades.
W.A. Wells & Son was the contractor assigned to the job. In today’s south Roosevelt, this part of 5th Avenue was hardly affluent back in those days, as the well-to-do tended to live further east near Central Avenue or further north near present-day streets like Lynwood, Wiletta and Portland. Though still close to the city center, Fifth Ave Courts were virtually suburban back when construction began.
A one-story stuccoed brick residential structure — literally a court, with two wings forming an “n” shape around a common area with front entrances — Fifth Ave Court is a prime example of the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style that was prevalent in the late 1920s in the area. Though a re-stuccoing and a paint job or two may have been necessary over the years, little else has changed. The original plans called for nine residential units (four in each identical wing and a larger central unit in the back), and it is so today.
The 618 address is part of the south Roosevelt revitalization of the past decade, with several small apartment complexes getting fix-ups, as well as a number of historic homes and bungalows being rezoned for commercial use — just within one block there’s Cibo, Local Breeze, the Allstate office and a number of law firms.
And, at the time of this writing, there is a rental available in the building. With a location like this, it won’t last long.
Source: Phoenix Historic Building Survey by Charles Hall Page and Associates, Sep. 1979
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and a brief description.
DPJ is proud to bring you the best Yelp reviews of your favorite Downtown restaurants, boutiques, venues and everything in between. Every Tuesday, visit DPJ for a finely crafted, tell-all account of a Downtown spot straight from the experts: the people!
Am I really the first to review? Well, I feel honoured. The British honoured.
I recently moved to the Downtown Phoenix area and during my search this is the place that really stuck out. Awesome location, new build, younger scene, and decent neighborhood. It is close to a lot of my favorite places. The Roosevelt, Lost Leaf, Sens, Matt’s Big Breakfast. The list can go on and on.
I have been living here for about a month now and don’t have any complaints. I am in a studio apartment on the 3rd floor of the building. I have an awesome view of downtown straight down 3rd and the Westward Ho to the west. Being a new build I am the first to live in my unit, which is very nice. They are a very pet friendly building. Everyone seems to have a dog and they have two doggie clean up stations on the grounds. The pool is nice and open 24 hours. Heated also, but I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet. I have been using the fitness center. It is a little small, but they do have free weights, machines, and 6 cardio machines and a yoga room.
There are spaces on the ground floor for live/work tenants. I believe only 3 or four of these are currently filled and hope some other businesses will move in there. Arizona Center is also directly across the street. I have already walked to dinner and the movies.
If you are moving to downtown please give this place a look. They offer move in specials and discounts on rent when new residents are recommended by current ones. *coughcough*
Alta Phoenix Lofts is located at 600 N. 4th St — light rail station at Central/1st Ave and Van Buren. 877.667.4449
The DPJ Yelper of the Week offers honest insight on a Downtown business to help you explore your core. DPJ hopes that by partnering with Yelp to spread the good word about well-loved Downtown spots, you’ll spread your patronage and support local business.
Yelp is a social networking and local search engine that provides the reviews of places and things that matter to you. Simply log in, pick a place and queue up your inner critic. You can write a beaming review of your favorite gelato spot, or a scathing portrayal of that rental car facility you had to use after that curb came out of nowhere. Yelp’s reviews are at once honest, uncensored, wildly hilarious and true. Heck, the site must be doing something right — it had 25 million viewers just last month!
Have you ever caught yourself driving on Central while thinking about tying one on? Me too. What a coincidence. I have had that happen several times since I moved Downtown. Inexcusably, most of us shrug it off. I just did the most logical thing: turned into FEZ.
This restaurant seems to do a lot of things well — make ridiculously delicious burgers, house an extensive bar selection and pulse house music… wait… is that a good thing?
After spending the last hour enhancing my Adonis-like frame at the gym, I had a hankering for a good burger. So, my first thought was to hit up FEZ. I could almost smell the garlic rosemary fries as I paralleled the light rail en route to my dinner. Once I arrived, I was met in the parking lot with the familiar thump of the music that lie within.
Upon being seated, I refused the menu and rambled off my order as if I had been practicing my lines in the car (possibly the truth, but I will plead the fifth). Then, the waitress posed the question that I did not know the answer to: What would you like to drink? Ha. In my haste to engulf the FEZ burger I had forgotten to think of what would cool my parched throat and complement my meal.
Obviously, she had seen this before. I was pointed toward the notable martini selection. Now, I am not one to shrug off the suggestion of the waitstaff. I worked in the restaurant scene at one time, so I’m aware that most good staffers know what is good. At the mention of Feztini, I kindly obliged and knew that once I wrote about this evening, I would encounter some criticism.
Now, there have been some extremely girly drinks reviewed/tested/enjoyed during my tenure at Sips and Grub, so this is not a new thing. In fact, I just quelled any anxiety by reminding myself that James Bond enjoyed several martinis in his day. Whew.
This Skyy Vodka concoction — Skyy raspberry vodka, Chambord and a champagne float — was way pinker than I had pictured. Garnished with a sugared rim and a gummy worm, this is not a martini Bond would order, but it is velvety goodness. The fruit flavor is cooled in the alcohol. Every sip was righteously good.
I’m thankful for my knowledgeable waitstaff. Apparently, my waitress knew exactly what to get with that signature burger. I’m not ashamed. Next time I’ll just ask for two gummy worms.
FEZ is located at 3815 N. Central Ave., near the light rail station at Central/Indian School — 602.287.8700