Vacant lots fill 43% of the land in Phoenix. We’ve all seen them scattered up and down throughout downtown and we know the impact they can have.
On one such neglected site, however, an organic transformation has been slowly evolving over the last two years. PHX Renews, a program of Keep Phoenix Beautiful, has brought community members, nonprofits, and corporate partners together to transform a fallow 15-acre site on the northeast corner of E. Indian School Rd. and Central Ave. into a garden bursting with plant life. Once the site of the old Phoenix Indian School, the lot lies adjacent to, though not part of, Steele Indian School Park.
The mission of the PHX Renews program is to “find temporary uses for these lots that will beautify the city, while promoting sustainability and a sense of community.” With this simple mission, Tom Waldeck, the executive director of Keep Phoenix Beautiful and his staff, volunteers and supporters have created a beautifully diverse example of how to bring abundant, temporary life to these neglected spaces. The 15-acre lot is on lease from Baron Colliers Companies, with the agreement that anything and everything built on the site is temporary. When the time comes for it to be developed, everything can be moved. As Waldeck says, “When we do leave it will be like we were never here.”
The program was launched with two seed grants, including $100,000 from Wells Fargo, and $40,000 from the Steele Foundation. Currently the lot boasts a small farm run by the International Rescue Committee; 140 community garden plots; a temporary net neutral sustainable high tech house built in partnership with ASU; gardening demonstration areas run by various nonprofits; and a temporary dog park from PetSmart. The fence surrounding the site is adorned with temporary mural panels painted by local artists and community members. The temporary sustainable house has become the onsite office for Phoenix Renews and ASU will continue to use it for research connected to the onsite technology that was used in its construction. Hayden Flour Mill is using the site to grow a couple of acres of heat resistant white Sonoran wheat, which they supply to Chris Bianco. APS is working to create temporary black water solutions for the site, and various other groups present events and programs onsite.
The project continues to evolve. Most of the 15-acres is being utilized at this point and plans are in the works for various events, including an Earth Day Festival next April. There will be ongoing presentations, demonstrations and workshops to help people experience sustainable desert gardening, water conservation, composting, and other aspects of sustainable living. “Everything we do has to have an educational component,” said Waldeck. “We bring kids in for recycling, composting, etc.” Last March they hosted Bill and Chelsea Clinton for the Clinton Foundation’s 9th Annual Day of Action.
The program has been such a success that Keep Phoenix Beautiful has brought on a full-time project manager. Katie Poirer is a recent graduate of the sustainability program at ASU who got involved with PHX Renews originally as a volunteer. She works directly with community gardeners, helping with any problems and small maintenance issues, as well as working directly with organizations who are looking for ways to get involved.
The next time you’re in the area, stop in and walk around. You’re sure to see someone working on their garden plot, tilling a field, or leading a demonstration of some kind. Contact Katie and set a time to tour through the house. And keep in mind as you wander through the site that the whole miraculous blooming patch, up to and including the house, is temporary, and portable. When the time comes for construction on this lot, the whole shebang can be moved to thrive and bloom in another vacant corner of the city.
If you go:
What: PHX Renews, a temporarily activated, 15-acre sustainability experience
Where: Northeast corner of E. Indian School Rd. and Central Ave. (No public parking on site. Park in the Steele Indian School Park lot and walk out and around to the entrance on Central, or take light rail to the Indian School and Central Station and cross to the entrance on Central.)
When: Open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more information or to set up a time to see the house, call 602-262-4820, or visit PHX Renews.
Admission: There is no cost to visit the site.
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University of Arizona, Phoenix Break Ground on New Downtown Project
Biosciences Partnership Building Will Create Hundreds of Jobs
With a shovel of dirt, construction began Thursday on the 10-story Biosciences Partnership Building; the latest development in downtown Phoenix.
University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton tilled the soil ceremoniously marking the beginning of the 2-year design and construction for the 245,000-square foot research building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
“This building will foster collaborations with scientists that will lead to more cures, better treatments and bring more federal and private dollars to the state,” said President Hart. “We will pursue expanded partnerships with industry that we hope will lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the areas of neuroscience, cardiovascular and thoracic science. This building will allow us to further these efforts and, ultimately, improve lives.”
As announced earlier this year by the university and the City of Phoenix, plans are in place to construct the 10-story, 245,000-square-foot research building just north of the Health Sciences Education Building on the downtown campus.
“This building will serve the medical school and beyond with important research and faculty to teach the next generation of health professionals,” Stanton said. “Of course, this just adds to the economic vibrancy of downtown. The research facility initially will bring construction jobs, and then high-paying, research-related jobs, including specialized technicians and other support staff for faculty and scientists.”
The 2-year construction on the $136 million building is expected to translate into nearly 500 jobs initially and another 360 permanent jobs at build out.
“The Bioscience Partnership Building represents yet another milestone as the city and the university develop a major academic medical center in downtown Phoenix,” said Stuart D. Flynn, MD, dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “Research in this building, in collaboration with our partners, will advance healthcare for all and expand our role as an economic driver for the city, valley, and state.”
The building is the latest development in the steady expansion of the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus and expanding academic medical center. In 2012, the award-winning Health Sciences Education Building opened, housing health education for both the UA and Northern Arizona University. Construction continues on The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s. The cancer center, a 220,000-square foot outpatient and research facility, is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
The Phoenix Biomedical Campus plays host to four UA health science colleges – the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health as well as the colleges of nursing and pharmacy. Also on campus are three NAU programs – physician’s assistant, physical therapy and occupational therapy as part of the university’s College of Health and Human Services. Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Innovation is housed in the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative 1 building just southwest of the education building and immediately south of the Translational Genomic Research Institute (TGen).
The funding for the Biosciences Partnership Building comes from the Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development bonds approved by the legislature in 2008 that paid for construction of the Health Sciences Education Building and related campus improvements. Research focus areas include neurosciences, healthcare outcomes, cancer and precision medicine.
Images courtesy of the University of Arizona.
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.
Admit it. You sometimes spell Phoenix wrong. Pheonix. Phoneix. Even the City of Phoenix does too. But it’s going to be pretty hard – and heavy – to make edits on several misspelled cast iron manhole covers spotted by eagle-eyed downtowners. From here on out, as you read this update on downtown Phoenix goings-on, be assured that spell-check is on.
While there continues to be concern about the regional and state economy, downtown projects continue to move forward. Here’s the latest news on several notable downtown and midtown projects in the works: Central Station (Central & Van Buren), Lennar Multifamily Communities (Central & McDowell), and several Phoenix Convention Center-managed spaces, including the former Matador restaurant (1st St. & Adams).
A noted local attorney has contributed $10 million to help build Arizona State University’s new Arizona Center for Law and Society, including the future home of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, in downtown Phoenix. The contribution from Leo and Annette Beus is the largest single donation ever to the law school.
Last spring, Professor Lauren Allsopp and 16 graduate students from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning set out to create a reactivation plan for downtown’s historic, yet endangered, Warehouse District. The students’ work is summarized here.
Grand Canyon University is housing nearly 200 upperclass students at Roosevelt Point Apartments (3rd St. & Roosevelt) due to a shortage of onsite housing at the university’s 35th Ave. & Camelback campus. Last year, Roosevelt Point housed some GCU students, but on a much smaller scale.
On September 27 (before the rains came), a group of young downtown advocates organized and staged “Better Block PHX” on the block between Pierce and Garfield to demonstrate how existing “dead zones” (e.g., empty lots, vacant storefronts, asphalt parking lots) can be transformed into lively streetscapes, marketplaces, and community hubs.
On September 18, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration changed the west outbound flight path for planes departing from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The change directs planes to turn at a lower altitude between early afternoon and 2 a.m. over Lower Grand Avenue, rather than a more westerly and higher turn. The public in general and residents of the affected residential neighborhoods specifically were not made aware of the change, resulting in more than 240 noise questions or complaints in two weeks. In comparison, airport officials received 221 such complaints in all of 2013. The FAA and city officials will hold a community meeting on October 16 to discuss the noise complaints and rationale for the change.
City and economic development leaders are touting Phoenix to host one of three NCAA Basketball Final Fours in 2017, 2019, or 2020. Downtown Phoenix is key to the Final Four bid package because of the number of hotel rooms and the Phoenix Convention Center, which would be the site of the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention and the “Bracket Town” fanfest event. This is another great example of the working partnership that has emerged between the Phoenix CVB, Phoenix Convention Center and DPI.
My colleague Dan Klocke with the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corp. noted in a Downtown Devil article that this summer’s retail outlook in downtown was on par with, if not better than, previous years. “We’ve seen a few more restaurants open up and a couple more coming, and we see hotel occupancy levels climbing in the first six months of the year compared to last year, so that’s good.”
Some of the businesses that recently announced their intent to open downtown include GrabbaGreen (CityScape) and Sutra Yoga (2nd St. & Portland). Unfortunately we did lose one, The Local restaurant (3rd St. & Roosevelt) after a six month run.
Last month, the City of Phoenix won a $1.6 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery federal grant to extend light rail from downtown Phoenix to Baseline Road. Thousands of residents of south Phoenix will reap the benefits of a stronger public transportation system that increases their mobility to other parts of the Valley. This is a big deal and one more important contribution by retiring Representative Ed Pastor.
Seed Spot, the non-profit social entrepreneurial incubator, hosted Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Upon touring the Seed Spot office at Central and Thomas, Contreras-Sweet commended founder Courtney Klein on the group’s achievements, noting “I love the feel. It feels so organic.”
Co+Hoots, a coworking space in downtown Phoenix, has been ranked #8 on a list of the top 75 coworking spaces in the U.S. Symmetry50, a national bookkeeping service for small businesses, compiles the list. Founder Jenny Poon and Co+Hoots Foundation leader Kristin Romaine serve on the DPI Community Advisory Panel.
On the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Barry Broome and Ioanna Morfessis, respectively the current and past CEOs of GPEC, wrote this Arizona Republic op-ed and noted that downtown is all about what metro Phoenix could be: diversity, creativity, education, and entrepreneurship.
News for a Health, Fitness & Safety Checkup
DPI, Downtown Phoenix Journal, PCA and the Phoenix Suns invite you to attend our third Radiate PHX business and community networking event on Tuesday, October 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Verve Lounge at US Airways Center. Topics include updates on sports and fitness initiatives such as “FitPHX” and “Meet Me Downtown,” plus a preview of the Suns basketball season. Guest speakers include Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, chair of the Downtown, Aviation, and Redevelopment Committee; Suns President Jason Rowley; and Ralph Marchetta, vice president of ticket operations and general manager of sports and entertainment services for US Airways Center.
The urban bicycle advocacy group, Phoenix Spokes People, has organized a series of events and activities in “Biketober” to promote the cause of cycling in metro Phoenix.
Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl Host Committee, and NFL Foundation, the high school football field at the Arizona State University Preparatory Academy received much needed new sod, paint, and scoreboard. ASU Prep, a K-12 school at 7th St. & Fillmore, sits on the site of Montgomery Stadium. The then, 22,000-seat stadium was the largest in Arizona and one of the largest high school arenas in the country.
Students from Phoenix Union Bioscience High School gathered with members of the downtown Phoenix community on September 27 to build a community learning garden as part of the third annual Green Apple Service Day.
On October 4, an estimated 1,500 Garfield neighborhood residents – young, old, and in-between – participated in one of the city’s largest “Getting Arizonans Involved In Neighborhoods” (GAIN) events. Garfield’s unique social mixer and health fair, GAIN-FIESTA, was sponsored by numerous corporate, nonprofit, and educational groups, and organized by dozens of volunteers.
Fall-ing for the Arts
Goodbye summer heat, hello fall not-as-hot weather. What fall also brings is a jam-packed schedule of arts and culture events and activities throughout downtown Phoenix. October’s First Friday was as popular as ever, as evidenced by the 1,000-plus riders on the Artlink Trolley. Large crowds enjoyed Chaos Theory 15 and new this month was the AZ365 pop-up gallery on Roosevelt Row, sponsored by the Arizona Republic and Artlink.
Congratulations to the ASU International Artist Residency Program, located at Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix, for being awarded a $144,000 grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services to commission three new artists from across the globe to develop art projects that engage the public, such as exhibits, lectures, performances, and publications. Greg Esser, director of the program, is a superstar.
Congratulations also to the Ground Cover Public Art Project, sponsored by the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and situated on a vacant lot in downtown Phoenix, for receiving a first place award in Arizona Forward’s 34th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards.
Phoenix was one of more than 300 cities chosen to participate in a 10-day global film festival late last month and early this month. The Manhattan Short Film Festival is an annual showing of international, independently produced short films. Ten finalists were selected by an international panel of experts.
Let’s note the life and passing of Patrick Anthony Lawlor, age 94, the last of the core group to build a place for Arizona’s Irish families to gather, the Irish Cultural Center at Margaret T. Hance Park. According to Mary Moriarty, the Center’s operations manager, Patrick was the patriarch of the local Irish community, having been involved in its formation for 60 years. “Plus he was the gentlest and nicest little man you would ever want to meet.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
FITPHX / UA COLLEGE OF MEDICINE-PHOENIX CELEBRATING WALKPHX AND HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM AT FIRST WILDCAT NIGHT @ VERDE PARK
FitPHX and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix are announcing a new partnership at a Phoenix park just a short walk from the medical school campus. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, the first Wildcat Night @ Verde Park will launch a new tradition in the Garfield Neighborhood. Verde Park is at 916 E. Van Buren St.
Councilman Daniel T. Valenzuela, Olympic Gold Medalist and FitPHX Champion Misty Hyman, UA College of Medicine-Phoenix leaders and Garfield community kids and adults will join together for the first WalkPHX walk at the park. Also, UA medical students are launching a monthly event, teaching youth about a variety of age-appropriate health-related topics.
“Medical students working with kids in the Garfield neighborhood demonstrates what FitPHX can accomplish,” said Councilman Daniel T. Valenzuela. “The school is just two blocks from the park, and this partnership will bridge that short distance. Our goals with Wildcat Night @ Verde Park are to open the kids’ eyes to the potential of a medical career and introduce them to young, bright students who are eager and excited to bring their knowledge to the community.”
Topics medical students will teach with fun activities include how to have a healthy heart and the basics of good nutrition. Students also will tour the medical school on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus later in the year.
“The city of Phoenix continues to show its commitment to the health of its citizens and our college is ready to support that pledge,” said Stuart D. Flynn, MD, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. “The Verde Park project is an excellent example of the partnership between the university and the city of Phoenix and a great teaching opportunity for our students to learn about community health.”
UA College of Medicine-Phoenix also is supporting Verde Park by funding a new WalkPHX sign and mileage markers on the park’s quarter-mile loop. WalkPHX launched in May at eight parks – a new initiative encouraging residents to take the healthy step of walking at their neighborhood park. Thanks to the generosity of FitPHX partners, 15 WalkPHX sites will be in place by the end of October. For more on WalkPHX, a list of site partners and a map of locations, visit phoenix.gov/fitphx and click on the “WalkPHX” link.
Wildcat Night @ Verde Park also features a DJ, prizes, activity booths, a healthy fruit snack and a special appearance from Discovery Triangle’s Fresh Express mobile market offering affordable fruit and vegetables.
FitPHX is a citywide initiative, led by Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Valenzuela and Olympic Gold Medalist Misty Hyman, with the goal of improving health and wellness in the region and making the Phoenix area one of the healthiest in the nation. For more information on FitPHX and its WalkPHX program, visit phoenix.gov/fitphx.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007 and currently has 301 students training to be physicians. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains individuals to become exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders who are life-long learners and inquisitive scholars and who will embrace professionalism, innovation and collaboration to optimize health and healthcare for all.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
New ‘Super Bowl XLIX Legacy Field’ to be Unveiled
ASU Preparatory Academy to Receive Plush Football Field & New Scoreboard at Homecoming Game
WHAT: The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee in partnership with the NFL Foundation and Arizona Cardinals will unveil a newly refurbished football field and brand new scoreboard for the students, staff and fans at ASU Preparatory Academy during their homecoming game. Before its recent remodel the field was in subpar conditions for the thousands of youth who utilized it for organized sports and intramurals.
ASU Prep Academy was selected to receive this honor due to the need and rich history of the field, which from 1912 to 1982 was the site of the first high school in Phoenix. The Host Committee and its sponsors will proudly unveil the newly named Super Bowl XLIX Legacy Field knowing its place in Arizona history; 25 state championships were won there, as well as, the national championship in 1930.
ASU Prep Academy is an innovative public charter school sponsored by Arizona State University and serves approximately 1,400 students from kindergarten through 12th grade in downtown Phoenix. In the three years the high school has been open, students have achieved some of the highest academic gains in Arizona and the school received an “A” label from the Arizona Department of Education.
WHO: The following will attend at the ceremonial field and scoreboard dedication:
David Rousseau, Chairman, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee; Nicole Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals ; Jay Parry, President and CEO, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee; Arizona Cardinals Players; Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders; Big Red, Arizona Cardinals Mascot; SPIKE, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Mascot
WHERE: ASU Prep Academy located at 735 E. Fillmore St., Phoenix, Arizona 85006
WHEN: September 26th at 6:15pm
Image courtesy of Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee