Last week DPJ provided a step-by-step overview of the process behind the choice of Roosevelt Housing Associates (RHA) “The Row” proposal for developing the property along 2nd Street north of Roosevelt that also includes the historic Leighton G. Knipe House. City staff has requested that the Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee recommend City Council authorization to enter into a development agreement with RHA.
There was some initial community concern raised regarding aspects of “The Row” proposal, so staff’s initial recommendation to approve was withdrawn from the Subcommittee’s November 6 meeting agenda.
As stated in an updated report submitted to the Subcommittee, this gave both city staff and RHA time to meet with representatives from the community to gain input and answer questions about the project. In the past month, they met with community groups, including the Downtown Voices Coalition, Evans Churchill Community Association, and Garfield Organization. Additional meetings were held with the leadership from Roosevelt Action Association, Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, and the Roosevelt Row Merchants Association. The City also responded to and offered to meet with individuals who contacted the City directly regarding the proposed development.
Following a dialogue with City staff and RHA at their neighborhood meeting, the Evans Churchill Community Association drafted a letter of support for the project, stating, “In a neighborhood that is both vibrant and in transition, such as Evans Churchill, careful consideration is needed to prepare a development that contributes to the community in a meaningful way, is financially sound, and can be successfully accomplished. The Roosevelt Housing Associates proposal meets those objectives. We look forward to engaging with the developer to ensure their project brings maximum benefits to our neighborhood and the surrounding downtown community.”
Based on the feedback, RHA agreed to make several changes to their proposal to enhance its appeal to the community and help integrate the project successfully into the existing neighborhood. The changes include:
1) develop approximately 15-20 percent of the units as market rate, with no age or income restrictions, creating a diverse, mixed income project;
2) require all tenants to sign an affidavit acknowledging they are moving into a vibrant arts district;
3) develop the street-level units as live-work artist studios;
4) actively market the project to artists; and
5) dedicate a portion of the common area space for local artists to prominently display their works.
Pending City Council authorization, City staff and Roosevelt Housing Associates will continue to work with neighborhood groups throughout the design process.
Event Parking Concerns
Another pressing concern for the community surrounding the proposed development was the need to develop additional public parking solutions to support the increasing number of events and other activities in the area. To ameliorate this concern, City staff have made a recommendation that the net proceeds from the sale of the property be applied to the planning and development of a district parking solution for the Evans Churchill/Roosevelt Row area, east of Central Avenue and north of Roosevelt Street. City staff will work with the community, property owners, business owners and stakeholders in the coming months to evaluate and develop options, and will return to the Subcommittee early next year with specific recommendations to address the parking issue.
The Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee will meet again on Wednesday, December 4, to review the changes to the proposal and make a recommendation to the whole council to proceed with negotiations with RHA on the development of the proposal. The meeting is open to the public.
If You Go
What: Phoenix City Council Meeting of Downtown, Aviation and Development Subcommittee
Where: Phoenix City Hall, 1st Floor Atrium, Assembly Rooms A, B, & C, 200 West Washington Street
When: Wednesday, December 4, 9:30 a.m.
It may not be immediately visible to the casual eye, but there is a diverse cross section of people and organizations who are busy creating a thriving root system to support long-term urban livability in Phoenix.
They work both independently and in collaboration to create a sustainable urban landscape that thrives on walkable neighborhoods; entrepreneurial local businesses; an arts and culture suffused environment; innovative mixed-use development, and access to healthcare. Over the next several months, DPJ will take a closer look at the people and projects that are transforming downtown Phoenix into a sustainable 21st century city.
Consider Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) a primary root. Through its partnerships, SCC is making progress in areas as wide-ranging as housing, community development, public health and transportation. Because of the success of this unique collaborative, the Living Cities Network, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropic collaborative of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, met in Phoenix last week for the very first time to learn more about the innovative work being accomplished by SCC locally.
The Sustainable Communities Collaborative is a unique non-profit partnership of thirty-five entities powered by a $20 million fund privately financed by the Raza Development Fund and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Included in the collaborative are lenders; city officials from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa and their staffs; financial institutions; local foundations; public health professionals; built environment professionals; private businesses; and community groups. Through the fund, the SCC mission is to create an economic catalyst for Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe connected to development along the METRO Light Rail, which means putting into place critical pieces, including underlying policies and tangible outcomes, to complete the sustainability puzzle.
Shannon Scutari, SCC’s co-founder and director explains the significant role for the collaborative as “keeping the conversation going.”
“It’s our job to help connect the dots,” Scutari said. “We break down the development process into easily consumable bite-size steps that create positive outcomes for everyone involved.”
“SCC,” she continues, “provides the glue between builders, city officials and staff, the developers and the neighborhood groups.”
To be truly sustainable, SCC members know that urban growth has to move beyond suburban sprawl, boom-and-bust models to a new paradigm that embraces infill development; increased density with mixed-use development and mixed income housing; access to public transportation; community healthcare; locally-spawned, entrepreneurial businesses; and the incorporation of the arts at every level of public life.
“This is one of the hardest landscapes to get funding in place,” said Scutari. “It has to be multi-faceted to get off the ground.”
“If it wasn’t for the collaborative members doing all the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting – the foundational work – we wouldn’t stand a chance in being attractive to companies, investors and developers who are looking at the Phoenix core as a place to invest in innovative ways.” said Scutari.
SCC Members participate on steering committees focused on policy areas that are most important for redefining urban vibrancy: housing, public health, community development, financial tools, and transportation. Scutari points out the importance of “setting the table” to make this new paradigm effective, saying, “It’s about turning public policy into public action.”
Scutari praises Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s work in making the SCC successful. “A tremendous amount of credit should go to the City of Phoenix and Mayor Stanton for making infill, adaptive reuse and transit-oriented development a priority. The mayor has been a real leader in this space.”
She also notes that Metro Light Rail has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Mayor Stanton, Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, and Mayor Mark Mitchell of Tempe and their staffs to collaborate across city lines in ways that maximize resources and create a winning outcome for each community. Listen to their comments in the video below.
SCC and others who are creating a new vision for a livable, sustainable Phoenix are just beginning to make a difference through the development of projects like The Newton at Camelback Rd. and Third Ave. and Union at Roosevelt at 1st Ave. and Roosevelt St., to name just a few.
Additionally, SCC has been involved with innovative partnerships with SeedSpot, Co+Hoots and LocalFirst to support commercial ventures connected to the light rail line that will attract and create jobs and economic opportunities. And while the impacts are only just beginning to be felt, the relationships being developed are creating a strong root system of trust and success that bodes well for the future of our urban core.
There are two infill advisory groups – Phase One and Phase Two. The Phase One group is comprised of design professionals, builders and city staff. This group looks at the more technical issues related to the interpretation and application of City Code and Building Code requirements.
- Alan Stephenson, Planning & Development
- Cindy Stotler, Planning & Development
- Ray Dovalina, Street Transportation
- Brandy Kelso, Water Services
- Jack Ballentine, Fire
- Kate Krietor, Neighborhood Services
Design Professionals & Builders
- Ben Patton, Tiffany & Bosco
- Bill Smith, Smithfield Properties LLC
- Sean Tonge, John F. Long Properties LLLP
- Dan Klocke, Downtown Phx Partnership
- Mike Rumpleton, RSP Architects
- Jeff McBride, Dibble Engineering
- Eric Zobrist, Ayers, Saint, Gross Architects
- Leslie Kland, Kland Civil Engineers
- Jason Morris, Withey Morris
The Phase II group membership includes neighborhood representatives, some design professionals, zoning professionals and city staff. The Phase II group is assigned the issues related to neighborhoods and quality of life.
Phase Two Advisory Group
- Alan Stephenson, Planning & Development
- Cindy Stotler, Planning & Development
- Ray Dovalina, Street Transportation
- Kate Krietor, Neighborhood Services
Residents, Design Professionals & Builders
- Jennifer Boucek, Historic Preservation/Residents
- Ken Cheuvront, Small Business
- Cindy Dach, Downtown Phoenix
- Steve Dreiseszun, FQ Story/Residents
- Tim Eigo, Downtown Phoenix
- Jasper Hawkins, Residents
- Charley Jones, Pierson Place Historic District
- Jennifer Longdon, Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities
- Jim Mapstead, Local First
- Jason Morris, Whithey Morris PLC
These infill development advisory groups were asked to assist staff in creating a pilot area for removing infill development barriers and incorporating flexibility in standard development requirements. The group’s goal was to promote growth and development in areas served by light rail and existing public infrastructure.
Over the summer, six public meetings were held and just over 200 citizens participated in conversations about the future of infill development in downtown Phoenix. Wednesday night’s presentation will talk about the progress the groups made based on the public input, and provide insight on the next steps in developing the pilot area.
If You Go
What: Overview of Progress on Infill Development Plans for Downtown Phoenix
When: Wednesday, October 9, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Where: A.E. England Building, 424 N. Central Avenue. (Located between 1st and Central Avenues, just north of Van Buren Street. Transit station at Central Ave and Van Buren St. Parking available at Central Ave & Filmore St.)
After years of dividing staff time and resources between separate offices and rehearsal space, Arizona Opera has at last consolidated most of its operations in one location, thanks to the capital culture bond approved by Phoenix residents in 2006. The company’s new home, formerly a space for office furniture belonging to Walsh Bros., is directly across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum and near the light rail on the northwest corner of Central and McDowell.
Singers and administrators alike are enjoying the novelty of in-house rehearsals at Arizona Opera’s new center, says General Director Ryan Taylor. “Now we’re all under one roof,” he explains. “We’ve got our costume shop…our wig and makeup department…marketing…development…” Taylor pauses and smiles. “Everyone who needs to know exactly what’s going on with the art form can just wander in and see what’s happening that day.”
This weekend offers everyone that rare behind-the-scenes opportunity with plenty of great music, beginning at 6 p.m. this evening and continuing through Community Day celebrations on Saturday, October 5. First Friday options include a professional makeup demonstration in preparation for the Zombie Walk, tours, food trucks ranging from Short Leash Hot Dogs to Paradise Melts to Paletas Betty, and rehearsals of H.M.S. Pinafore, which opens Arizona Opera’s season.
Be sure to grab a spot for tonight’s performances of Craigslistlieder, written in the spirit of classical German art songs but using mature-audience-only lyrics from online ads with tongue tucked firmly in cheek. This offbeat 2006 work for voice and piano was composed by Gabriel Kahane, son of pianist/conductor Jeffrey Kahane, and includes titles like “You Looked Sexy,” “Neurotic and Lonely,” “For Trade,” and “Half A Box of Condoms” performed by baritone Chad Sloan.
Seating is somewhat limited in the new center, since the flexible performance area seats only 235. This allows greater intimacy between audience and performers, says Taylor, hopefully eliminating not only physical distance but also the stereotypical formality of opera. “I think the other thing that I like is just the sunlight,” Taylor adds with a laugh. “Here it’s just a joy, and the acoustic is so good in this new hall; we’re rehearsing in a space that…really is an integral [part] of that downtown corridor in the center of the…arts district.”
Saturday begins with an 11AM presentation from Steinway & Sons, more tours and food trucks, and ongoing performances by members of the Phoenix Youth Symphony, the Arizona School for the Arts Middle School Chorus, and six singers from the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio. The evening brings Opératif, a $25 behind-the-scenes preview with Taylor and a glass of wine at the final rehearsal of Pinafore.
Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sir William S. Gilbert wrote Pinafore as their fourth collaboration in 1878, creating a burlesque satire of nautical melodramas. The British operetta features veteran baritone Robert Orth, young soprano Sara Gartland, popular Arizona Opera regular Curt Olds, and Grammy-nominated conductor Rob Fisher, while English supertitles projected above the stage make it easy to follow along.
General Director Taylor enjoys casting young artists appropriate to the age of their roles, and rising star David Portillo is a fine example in the role of Ralph Rackstraw, the hero of the piece. Portillo is a Mexican-American tenor from Texas, still in his mid-30s but already boasting appearances with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington National Opera, along with performances in Switzerland, Japan, France, Italy, and Luxembourg. He previously sang Beethoven’s ninth symphony with The Phoenix Symphony, and he’s been praised by Opera News as “a sharp performer” with a “warm, sexy lyric tenor.” Portillo also delivers a Spanish-language recital on Arizona Opera’s voiceLab series at the Musical Instrument Museum on October 27.
Arizona Opera stays with a maritime theme by following Pinafore with Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in November. Shorter than most of Wagner’s famous Ring operas, Dutchman is a thoroughly enjoyable spine-tingling romance soaked with plenty of supernatural forces and the composer’s trademark musical sound effects, from spinning wheels to storms. Soprano Lori Phillips sings the heroine role of Senta, in which she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera.
Dutchman’s title role showcases another Metropolitan Opera favorite: baritone Mark Delavan, who grew up in Phoenix and earned a degree in art at Grand Canyon College (now Grand Canyon University) before studying music in Oklahoma. Delavan’s parents were both major figures in the Valley’s choral music scene. Over-the-top reviews for the singer — especially in performances of Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini — include praise for his “half-divine, half-human voice” (and really, who could resist that quote). Intriguingly, Delavan crafts knives as a hobby.
For 2014, Arizona Opera’s season includes Symphony Hall performances of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème – the inspiration for the musical Rent — in January along with Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic La Traviata in February and March, and nine April performances of Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale in the new Opera Center.
1636 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Grand opening weekend: Oct. 4 First Friday, 6 to 10 p.m.; Oct. 5 Community Day begins at 11 a.m.
- H.M.S. Pinafore
Oct. 11-13 at Symphony Hall
- The Flying Dutchman
Nov. 15-17 at Symphony Hall
At last! Today was the day we got official word on the mysterious goings-on at the old Beef Eaters building at 3rd Ave. and Camelback Road.
Rumors have abounded and well over 100 people, including families from the neighborhood, business people, bankers, builders and just plain folks, gathered at 10 a.m. this morning to celebrate the plans to revitalize the site. The excitement was palpable on everyone’s smiling faces.
From 1961 through 2006, Beef Eaters was a central gathering place for Phoenicians to share meals, celebrate special events, and craft the business deals that shaped our Valley. When owner Jay Newton died in 2006, the restaurant shut its doors and the building sat empty. Now adaptive reuse developers Venue Projects have stepped up with a remarkable vision to bring the site back to life.
Central Phoenix-based Venue Projects principle Lorenzo Perez told the crowd of Venue’s dedication to finding and adapting buildings with history, a story to tell, and a strong sense of place. Jon Kitchell, another principle with Venue added, “We’re salvage hounds and love finding materials worthy of putting back into place, like black leather booths and the Queen Creek adobe bricks of this place.”
Working with John Douglas Architects, they’ll be uncovering the bones of the building and incorporating the treasures they discover back into the new uses for the site.
“Jay Newton’s Beef Eaters legacy will continue with a new interpretation of his iconic gathering place,” said Kitchell. To honor the past, the new complex will be called The Newton.
The Newton is co-owned by Venue Projects and two of the three businesses that will comprise the site. Co-owners include the nationally renowned, independent, community-based bookstore, Changing Hands, which will open its second Valley location at the site; and Justin and Michelle Beckett, current owners of Beckett’s Table, who will open a new neighborhood restaurant concept at The Newton. The third occupant will be The Lively Hood, a co-working space for creative professionals. Construction has begun and the goal is to reopen on November 1.
These three businesses will continue Jay Newton’s Beef Eaters legacy. Located just across the street from the light rail station, the bookstore, restaurant and co-working space will be active community gathering spaces that energize the neighborhood and encourage people to work together.
Shannon Scutari of Sustainable Communities Collaborative summed up the thrill experienced by everyone gathered when she referenced an old African proverb. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. This place,” said Scutari, “is going to be about going it with others.”