There are lots of conversations these days about how to preserve, enhance and contribute to an authentic sense of place in our urban core. And while not all projects are as successful as some would like, increasingly we’re seeing innovative, adaptive reuse renovations along the Central corridor.
These projects incorporate our unique history and provide vital new use opportunities for 21st century enterprises: education, research and development, and diverse businesses. Not every building will be preserved, but as we speak an interesting renovation/adaptive reuse project with glorious potential is taking shape in the vintage Uptown Plaza on the northeast corner of Camelback Rd. and Central Ave.
Uptown Plaza, with its modern brick, masonry and steel midcentury modern construction originally opened on August 25, 1955. It was constructed by Del Webb and was the first “suburban” retail shopping center outside of downtown Phoenix. From the beginning, the unique mix of midcentury design details, along with a variety of shopping and dining options made it a popular destination for Phoenicians. Uptown was home to everything from Jerand’s of Arizona fine fashions and Bostrom’s department store, to the national grocery chain, Piggly Wiggly (currently AJ’s Fine Foods).
Over the years the center has suffered from a series of stucco “improvements” and the once vibrant corner has experienced vacancies and under-use for a long time now. Local developer, Vintage Partners saw a unique opportunity to bring the center back to life. Vintage Partners Principal, Dave Scholl approached the center’s owners to sell them on the concept of a comprehensive revitalization that would restore much of the midcentury modern elements and re-attract a mix of local, regional and national tenants to create a jewel destination in uptown.
As Scholl puts it, “When you see someone like a Craig DeMarco invest in an area, you see the chance – the risks he took, how he’s been rewarded and how the neighborhood has appreciated that reinvestment. And I think a little more is a good idea.”
Designed by Nelsen Partners (Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter), the renovation plans are still being finalized as Vintage Partners and builder Kitchell Contractors determine how much of the original red brick façade (including many interior walls) can be preserved. However, the end results will combine a restoration of the classic lines and low-slung shapes with verdant new landscaping and modern amenities, including rebuilding the original 15-foot shade overhangs with cantilevers to achieve a sleeker, less cluttered look.
In its current deconstructed state, many of the old painted signs for the earlier businesses have been uncovered and, in talking with Scholl, we wondered if those elements would be retained. Unfortunately, it appears that keeping those painted signs will be problematic, since they would conflict with the new tenant signage. Scholl and the contractors believe that these painted signs were actually under the original neon signs. If you look closely you can see dozens of holes in the brick around these signs where it appears that the neon was affixed. The goal according to Scholl however, is “to preserve as much of the original brick with the worn patina of time as possible.”
While many people are familiar with the work that Vintage Partners did renovating the corner of 7th Ave. and McDowell, Scholl points out why this project should have a happier outcome.
“Our vision is to peel all this stucco off and get back to the original brick. Unlike 7th Ave and McDowell, this center was built with baked brick. 7th ave and Mcdowell was built with sand brick – not baked. Sand brick is allowed to dry in the sun, which makes for very brittle bricks, which crumbled when we began to take the stucco off.” He adds, “and because it was built in the 30s, it didn’t have any steel to reinforce the brick. Uptown was built in the 50s and in just those twenty years building standards had changed. Uptown was built with baked brick and reinforced with steel.” So far, so good. As they peel off the layers of stucco, the underlying brick is still strong and viable, which means much more of the original character of the center will be maintained.
“The center has a great anchor with AJ’s,” said Scholl, “The next best anchors in retail are great destination restaurants. We’ll be picking out four to six great destination restaurants, and then filling in with soft goods, gift stores, etc.”
A really exciting change will be taking place in the far back corner of the plaza. In the original center, the back corner was actually connected, there was no courtyard. Over the years, changes were made, and the buildings were separated. Vintage is planning to open up this space even further, increasing the width of the walking area by putting in a big lawn in the middle with restaurants spilling out onto the space with outdoor dining patios. With the right tenants, it will be a great addition to this increasingly walkable, bikeable neighborhood.
In working on this project, which is close to his heart, Scholl says that he “feels like an archeologist.” He adds, “I’ve lived in Phoenix for 43 years, and I can remember when McCreary’s drugstore was on that corner (pointing to the current remains of Boston Market).”
Most of the work on the plaza will be completed by September 2015 and new tenants will be able to get in and begin building out their spaces soon after, so Scholl anticipates these businesses will begin opening in early 2016. Some of the current businesses will remain, including AJ’s. Vintage Partners will be working with them on renovating the exterior of the store, which will hopefully be followed by AJ’s themselves renovating the interior of their store.
And Vintage has just contracted with Modern Manor vintage furnishings owners, Kylie & Ryan Durkin, to help restore the authentic midcentury modern charm to this landmark center. “This project is a rare find to midcentury fan boys like us,” says Ryan Durkin. “We’re looking at incorporating some of our favorite designs from the 50’s into the center’s ecosystem.”
In our wild west, tear-down, build new, expand-out kind of city, we’re only now beginning to grapple with the challenges of preserving our unique places. Some success stories, like the recent renovation of the old Beefeaters into the Newton, the Upward Projects work on Windsor, Federal Pizza, Postino’s, and Joyride, are shining examples of thoughtful renovations that incorporate the past, while looking to the future. We’re hopeful that Vintage Partners’ renovation of Uptown Plaza will continue that momentum.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Perks of Participating in Valley Bike Month
Trade in your four-wheels for two! April is Valley Bike Month and there’s so much to gain by getting involved. Bicycling can be used for short trips or to extend a transit trip. Bicycling can lead to increased fitness and fun, and it’s also a great way for families and friends to spend time together as they pedal their way to a favorite local destination. Visit sharetheride.com to learn more and track your bicycling trips to enter to win prizes.
More people are catching on to the benefits of bicycling to work. Six percent of Valley commuters bike at least one day a week. Bikes also help extend a transit trip whether on bus or light rail.
The Benefits of Riding
- EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD
Bike instead of drive and then connect to a bus or light rail to complete your trip.
- BETTER HEALTH
Burn more calories and reduce the risk of heart disease. Less stress, too!
- SAVE MONEY
Cyclists save on commute costs and many businesses offer special deals to riders.
- CONSIDER THE ENVIRONMENT
Reduces emissions that cause air pollution, reduces fuel consumption and traffic congestion.
Valley Bike Month Events
For a list of all Valley Bike Month events visit sharetheride.com. Find a bike buddy, track your bike trips and enter to win great prizes!
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Phoenix Festival de España Annual Celebration of Spanish Arts & Culture Returns to Downtown Phoenix March 21 & 22, 2015
Phoenix Festival de España, sponsored in part by APS, will take place in the heart of the Downtown Phoenix art scene at Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N 3rd Street) and will feature Flamenco workshops for youth and adults, delicious Spanish food, culinary demonstrations, presentations on Spanish culture, live performances, and more!
Dance and music groups from throughout the Valley will perform in 30-minute intervals throughout the day on the festival’s outdoor stage. Local and nationally-acclaimed Spanish historians, scholars, and curators will present lectures and workshops with a Spanish flavor. The Festival will also feature art exhibits, costumes, jewelry, and a beer and wine garden. Admission is FREE for the whole family.
In addition to the fantastic dance and music performances outside all weekend long, Sunday’s festivities will include a screening of the documentary “Flamenco Flamenco” by Carlos Saura at 2pm in the Phoenix Center for the Arts Third Street Theater. Festivalgoers are encouraged to stay into the night for a very special closing flamenco performance, “Luz De Dia,” also taking place in the Third Street Theater at 6pm.
“Luz De Dia” features internationally acclaimed guitarist, Misael Barraza Diaz, with special guest from Madrid, international flamenco star, Nino De Los Reyes. Ensemble includes Macarena Giraldez, Olivia Rojas, Jason Martinez, Mele Martinez, and Angelina Ramirez. Tickets are required for entry to both “Flamenco Flamenco” ($10) and “Luz De Dia” ($15). Those wishing to attend both events, can purchase a combo ticket for $20.
Additional sponsors include Otro Café, Crescent Ballroom, Jobot, Monica Robles Art + Design, Northwestern Mutual, PAZ, Arizona Commission on the Arts, ACEAZ, and the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department.
For an updated list of performers, presenters and workshops, please visit www.phoenixcenterforthearts.org.
If You Go
Dates/Times: Saturday, March 21, 2015, 12-6pm & Sunday, March 22, 2015, 12-8pm
Anticipated Attendance: 2,000
Where: Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004
Parking/Transportation: Limited street parking available. Avoid the hassle and take METRO Light Rail to the McDowell/Central Ave or Roosevelt/Central Ave. Bike racks are also available. Parking is also available in the Phoenix Center for the Arts parking lot (enter from 3rd Street).
Presenting Organization: Phoenix Center for the Arts and Flamenco Por La Vida
Supported By: APS, City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department, Otro Café, Crescent Ballroom, Jobot, Monica Robles Art + Design, Northwestern Mutual, PAZ, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and ACEAZ
Information: email@example.com or 602-254-3100
Images courtesy of the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
For 27 years, Artlink has worked with artists and galleries to present the annual two-day free celebration in downtown Phoenix known as Art Detour. Visitors from throughout Phoenix and the entire Valley will be welcomed into studios and spaces throughout downtown this weekend to see working artists in their natural habitat, buy their work, and enjoy the creative energy of our thriving arts community.
While much of the activity during Detour is concentrated in downtown and on Grand Ave., increasingly the borders of Detour are expanding, and interesting artists and spaces can be found beyond where the trolley route can currently cover. Never fear, however. Using a combination of Metro Light Rail (get a day pass!), bikes and shoe leather, these destinations are within easy reach, and we can help you “connect the dots” to get there. So, with pith helmets firmly snapped in place and our trusty map in hand, we offer a multi-modal guide for intrepid explorers to get the full Detour experience.
Using light rail stations and GRID bike hubs as our guideposts, here are some “beyond the trolley route” spaces you’ll want to incorporate into your weekend Art Detour adventure.
Located on the southwest corner of Camelback Road and Central Avenue, the light rail station is a great place to consider starting your “beyond the trolley” adventure. There is ample parking both at the station and in the Uptown Plaza parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection.
First Stop – Practical Art, 5070 N. Central
Less than a block north of the light rail station on the west side of Camelback you’ll find Practical Art, a hybrid store/art gallery featuring functional artwork by more than 100 Arizona artists, along with monthly exhibitions of fine art. For Art Detour they will be featuring an exhibition of paintings by Lee Berger called “Indispensable Dispensables – Lessons to Still Be Learned.” In addition, on Saturday they will host some of the instructors from the Bergamot Institute, who run their summer kids classes.
Take the Light Rail to the Indian School and Central station (1 mile south of Camelback).
This is a good location to grab a GRID Bike, as there are a handful of great artist studios and galleries within blocks of this station. The GRID Bike lot can be found at the entrance to Steele Indian School Park. If you have a GRID bike membership you can reserve your bike for pick up, but if you don’t, there is still a chance that there will be bikes available at this stop. This weekend, however, is chock o’block with activities and at Steele Indian School Park, the Arizona Hemophilia Association will be hosting their 31st Annual My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge on March 7 and 8 from 10:00 a.m. You might want to stop by for a salsa snack before starting your Art Detour adventure.
So, chow down on some salsa, then grab your bike and head east on the south side of Indian School Rd. to:
Collective Gallery @ The Artery, 623 E. Indian School
The Artery features work by many different artists, including pastels, paintings, photography, woodcuts, jewelry and more.
Studio 6 @ The Artery, 625 E. Indian School
Upstairs in The Artery are six studio spaces where artists welcome visitors to see works-in-progress.
After your visit to both spaces at The Artery, it’s time to head west on Indian School and south on Third Ave. to The Clarendon Hotel & Spa, 402 W. Clarendon.
The Clarendon Hotel & Spa lines its public spaces with the work of local artists and presents an annual art “happening” in May called ARTELPHX, featuring local visual and performing artists. For Detour, the Clarendon will be featuring large scale paintings by local artist Bill Dambrova in the lobby. And just off the lobby, you’ll find The Bolles Gallery, A Historical Reflection Space which commemorates Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic journalist who was murdered in the parking lot of the hotel back in 1976. So, stop by and catch up on a little of the dark side of Phoenix history. And, if you’ve worked up a thirst or an appetite, before you leave for the next location, you can get a drink and nibbles at Cafe Tranquilo.
After you’ve scoped out everything the Clarendon has to offer, hop back on your bikes and head south and west to Willo North Gallery.
MAP CORRECTION – There is a slight error on the Art Detour map that we need to address here. While it’s shown as an orange dot with a 32 on it, it is actually the dot for Willo North Gallery (#30) on Gallery list. It’s in the correct place, but the number is incorrect.
Willo North Gallery, 2811 N. 7th Avenue
This popular gallery is off the beaten track, but well worth the effort. It’s only a short bike ride from the Clarendon. For Art Detour the gallery will be featuring a solo exhibition of paintings by Fred Tieken called “For the Birds.”
The Hive, 2222 N. 16th Street
The Hive is an eclectic art space that is part shop, part studios, and part gallery and it is well worth the ride. The midcentury modern Hive is in the historic Coronado neighborhood and hosts unique shows throughout the year. During Art Detour they will be featuring work by local artists Thomas Breeze Marcus and Dwayne Insano.
For the TRULY adventurous – there is one more out of the way stop we have to mention: Gary Beal’s artist studio at 2030 N. 17th Avenue, North of McDowell and West of 15th Avenue. It’s a little off the beaten path and he didn’t make it onto the Detour map, but he will be open and if you are a fan of glass/sculpture, you won’t want to miss Gary’s work.
On the final leg of this part of your Art Detour adventure, you can ride back towards Central Avenue and head south to leave your GRID bike at one of the GRID lots along Central, near the Heard Museum or the Phoenix Art Museum. During Detour weekend, the Heard Museum will be hosting the 56th Annual Indian Fair & Market, a ticketed event and the Phoenix Art Museum will be hosting Devoured, a popular, sold-out local food event.
Burton Barr Public Library, 1221 N. Central Ave – Art Detour Park and Ride Trolley Hub
Just one block south of the Phoenix Art Museum, at the Burton Barr Public Library, you’ll find an Artlink Trolley hub, where you can jump on a free trolley and hit all of the great venues along the route. Trolleys will circulate throughout the downtown all day on both days. Waits at each stop are about 15 minutes between trolleys. There will be volunteers and maps to help guide you the rest of the way.
Enjoy Art Detour this weekend, both on the trolley and beyond. Discover how the arts can help “connect the dots” to your unique downtown adventure.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Introducing Ridekick™: Valley Metro’s Official Mobile App for Easy Trip Planning
Your sidekick for traveling on bus or light rail
Ridekick™ has arrived! Valley Metro’s new mobile app is designed to get riders where they want to go easily and efficiently. By launching the free app, which pulls real-time schedule data, riders can plan a trip and get up-to-the-minute arrival times on bus or light rail. Riders can view available public transit options based on current location, plan a future trip and bookmark their favorite routes.
“Valley Metro is dedicated to making transit easy and accessible. Riders who use bus and light rail daily to those exploring public transportation for the first time will find the app very useful,” said Steve Banta, Valley Metro CEO. “Ridekick™ helps us better serve our existing riders and attract new by streamlining time and travel.”
Ridekick™ features include:
- An interactive map that displays bus, rail stops and park-and-ride locations
- GPS and filters to find the best public transit options based on rider needs and current location
- List of fare and fare retailers
- Ability to bookmark favorite routes and email your itinerary
Valley Metro and its ad agency partnered with Portland-based GlobeSherpa to design, build, test and deploy the Ridekick™ application.
“The time is right to provide a mobile trip planning solution to Valley Metro riders that’s informative and easy-to-use,” said Nat Parker, GlobeSherpa CEO. ”With the launch of the Ridekick™ trip planning application, Valley Metro is enhancing the transit riding experience in the greater Phoenix area by delivering relevant, real-time information to the rider when they need it.”
Valley Metro riders responded positively to Ridekick™ during testing, highlighting the user-friendly functionality, accurate timing and trip planning tools.
Download Valley Metro Ridekick™ today! It is available on either the App Store or Google Play™. Visit valleymetro.org/ridekick for additional information and to view useful videos.