Downtown is more than a grid system of streets and square miles. It is defined by something more. In this short series, new DPJ contributor, Colin Columna hones in on the five senses as his guide to explore what makes downtown Phoenix unique.
With our ears attuned to the nuanced sounds of downtown Phoenix, from the distinctive “ding ding” of an approaching light rail train, to the sounds of laughter from people on their bikes and a radio playing from the open window of a passing car, we begin. Our first stop on this downtown sensory tour is along Phoenix’s cultural highway, Central Avenue, at the intersection with Roosevelt Street. On the northwest corner stands the landmark Trinity Cathedral, spiritual home of the Episcopal congregation and secular home to the renowned Phoenix Chorale.
The Cathedral, completed in 1920, provides a graceful connection to Phoenix’s history, but visit during First Friday Art Walk and the space is filled with the sights and sounds of contemporary urban life. The Cathedral Center for the Arts provides the visual experience in the Olney Gallery and Phoenix Chorale’s Artistic Director Charles Bruffy conducts the surround sound of the Grammy Award winning ensemble during Open Rehearsals.
“I love our open rehearsals,” says Bruffy, “they allow us an opportunity to invite people who may be familiar with their own church choir but unfamiliar with what we do, to drop in and experience something new and hopefully surprising.”
At the center of downtown’s thriving Roosevelt art district, and easily accessible from Central and Roosevelt Metro Light Rail station, the free rehearsals add an element of accessibility to classical music while giving Phoenix Chorale serious “street cred.”
Bruffy explains the rehearsals allow for the audience to actively engage with the process. “Our singers have trained and perfected their gift and talent to sing from the heart. The casual atmosphere of open rehearsals allows us to not only sing but talk to our audience, answer questions, tell stories about the songs and tune their ears for the adventure of choral music. Our goal is make it possible for as many people to explore and enjoy the music and just as important to have fun.”
Choral music evolved from the earliest form of musical expression, telling stories through folk songs and devotional chants. Charles Bruffy plays a significant role in that evolution: appointed Artistic Director of the Phoenix Chorale in 1999, Artistic Director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988, Chorus Director for the Kansas City Symphony Chorus since 2008 and an impressive list of other gigs around the country. His exhaustive schedule ensures that chorale music remain relevant and at the top of the charts.
Under his leadership the Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale have ten Grammy Award nominations and each garnered two Grammy Award wins. The latest Phoenix Chorale recording, Northern Lights, spent a lucky 13 weeks on the Billboard charts and of special significance to Bruffy, “We were named “Best Classical Vocal Album of the Year” on iTunes Best of 2012, how cool is that?”
Adding to the richness of the Chorale’s sound is the unique qualities of Trinity Cathedral. “Many of our concerts are performed in sacred spaces, like the Cathedral.” he says, “It may be that they are usually of older construction, of stone and hard acoustics that singers enjoy. But there is something very special that occurs when we perform in the sanctuary, a reverb is applied creating an added element to the performance, as if the voice is singing a duet.”
If location is everything, Bruffy believes he could not be luckier. “I love being in the ‘hood. Our city is so culturally rich and there are so many flavors and cuisines to sample downtown.
I can leave work, get to my apartment, go to one of my favorite places Cibo Urban Pizzeria for a meal and still make it to rehearsals on time.” After performances Bruffy is often spotted at a few of his other favorites, including St. Francis, Breadfruit and Hanny’s courtesy of the Light Rail.
The musical dynamo believes the trains add to downtown’s vitality, “When I see the light rail go by, listen to the tone of the bell, I hear the sound of a twenty-first century city.”
Asked to imagine a concert that captures the flavor of downtown Phoenix Bruffy quickly, and expertly, whipped up this selection and provided a few highlights:
“Phoenix” by Ola Gjeilo, the Chorale’s 2010 Composer in Residence.
“In the Beginning” by Aaron Copland. “This piece reminds me of the mythical bird, and our city’s namesake, the Phoenix, always able to surprise, evolve and reinvent itself.”
“Cloudburst” by Eric Whitacre
“Mountains” by Steven Chapman
“Anasazi Women” by Anne Kilstofte. “This piece is selected from our 2014/15 season, Desert Song concert. A musical celebration of the beautiful Southwest landscape in which we live.”
To sample more of the Phoenix Chorale visit their website: www.phoenixchorale.org or call 602-253-2224.
Photos courtesy of Phoenix Chorale
The following release was issued by the city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department.
EXTENDED PARKING METER HOURS COMING AUG. 18
Meters to operate from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
The city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department is notifying residents, commuters and business owners on changes to parking meter hours of operation, effective Aug. 18. The changes were adopted by the City Council in June.
Beginning Aug. 18, all parking meters will be enforced from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., including weekends and holidays.
The new hours were enacted to increase the turnover of parking spaces in central Phoenix and downtown areas where meters are most often used.
As part of the council action, parking meter rates will also be changing in November of this year. Under a new demand-based pricing system coming in November, rates at credit card enabled meters can vary from 50 cents to $4 an hour, with higher meter rates reserved for high demand-parking during special events. Until demand-based pricing is implemented in November, meter rates will remain $1.50 per hour. For the public’s convenience, the city has purchased and installed 598 new single space credit card enabled meters. With this upgrade approximately 1,500 of the city’s parking meters, or 81 percent of citywide maters, will take credit cards.
More information on the proposed parking meter changes is available at the Street Transportation Department website, phoenix.gov/streets/parking-meters.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
DOWNTOWN “SUPER PUB” SHOWCASES LOCAL ART, CHANGING DOWNTOWN
The original cover art depicts a bustling Saturday morning at Phoenix Public Market, in an increasingly vibrant and walkable Downtown.
Local artist Justin Queal, whose artwork can be seen all over Phoenix, most notably at CityScape’s Squid Ink Sushi, was commissioned to paint one of his favorite places in Downtown Phoenix for the new Downtown Phoenix Dining Guide & Directory, which hit the streets this week and represents the most ambitious publication Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Downtown Phoenix, Inc., have ever produced.
Queal’s painting is a colorful representation of what Downtown Phoenix has become—a place where people not only work but live, shop and play. Our community is diverse, artistic, passionate and strong.
Similarly the artistic “super publication,” which for the first time combines the popular annual Downtown Dining Guide with the traditional twice-yearly Downtown Directory, was made stronger by an expanded coverage area that includes the Roosevelt Row Arts District. The expanded coverage resulted in 125 new listings for a whopping 411 total businesses featured.
The Downtown Dining Guide & Directory, the must-have resource for visitors and urban explorers, is distributed throughout Downtown and Valley-wide and features a pullout map, expanded dining editorial, local photography, information about Downtown’s emerging music scene, and a walking tour that encouraging pedestrians to explore Downtown’s historic buildings and public art.
You can download the Downtown Dining Guide & Directory here or stop by and grab a copy at the Downtown Ambassadors Information Center, located at 101 N. 1st Avenue, Suite 190.
For more information about Downtown Phoenix please visit www.downtownphoenix.com.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Colliers International Completes $2.3 Million Sale of Office Shell in Downtown Phoenix
Colliers International in Greater Phoenix has recently completed the sale of a Class C office shell in downtown Phoenix for $2.3 million, or $130 a square foot.
Phoenix-based New City Church purchased the building, located at 1300 N. Central Ave., from Drapac Group of Los Angeles.
The New City Church has experienced tremendous growth in the last three years and had outgrown their current location. New City Church was attracted to the property because of its downtown location, light rail access, bike parking and proximity to the downtown arts district.
Larry Ortega, executive vice president of Colliers, served as the broker for the buyer. Ortega specializes in the sale and leasing of retail and commercial properties. He has focused on downtown Phoenix since 1990.
The seller was not represented by a broker.
The building, encompassing 17,692 square feet, was constructed in 1961. New City Church plans to redesign the building.
“This transaction is an example of persistence and creativity coming together to make a deal work for both parties.” Ortega said.
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.