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.
What is the latest regarding DPI’s organizational capacity?
The Downtown Phoenix, Inc.’s Community Advisory Panel was formed this summer to serve as a sounding board for broader communications and connectivity for all downtown stakeholders. The panel has met three times and developed a mission and vision statement, guiding principles, and 16 goals to improve “connectivity” and “place.”
The panel sees DPI taking a leadership role (over and above a supporting role) in four of the goals: reevaluate the downtown street network, improve wayfinding, reutilize vacant lots, and enhance gateways into downtown. Panel members include Dorina Bustamante, Evans Churchill Community Association; Don Keuth, Phoenix Community Alliance; Leslie Lindo, Project Rising; Brendan Mahoney, City of Phoenix; Jim McPherson, Downtown Voices Coalition; Hugo Medina, Artlink, Phoenix; Eva Olivas, Phoenix Revitalization Corp.; Jenny Poon, CO+HOOTS; David Roderique, Downtown Phoenix Partnership; Sean Sweat, Thunderdome Neighborhood Association for Non-Auto Mobility; and Scott Sumners, City of Phoenix.
One of the most favorite things about my job is seeing how more and more downtown stakeholders – in business, government, and community – are working together to demonstrate the old adage, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Let me give you one example: maps. The Hotel Palomar teamed up with Pedal Craft to develop a walking and biking map of downtown Phoenix, not just of the downtown core but up to the ASU campus, several historic neighborhoods, and Hance Park. Valley Metro and Artlink Phoenix are working together to develop new light rail station display maps featuring destinations along light rail. GRID Bike Share is benefiting from the City of Phoenix’s General Plan crowdsourcing tool and its own community outreach efforts to create the best possible mapping system for the launch of regional bike share early next year.
’tis the Season! How can businesses and organizations promote their holiday events?
My colleagues at the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Downtown Phoenix Journal have been busy compiling a holiday calendar of events and activities taking place in and around downtown. Click here for our comprehensive – and still growing – holiday guide. Send in your list of public activities here, so they can added to the most comprehensive directory possible to Valley residents and visitors.
And, as you travel up and down Central Avenue from Baseline to Camelback, notice the holiday decorations and lights that adorn hundreds of street poles. Thanks to JoMarie McDonald with Phoenix Community Alliance for spearheading this initiative assisted by a strong planning committee and dozens of sponsors listed here.
What are some recent examples of downtown’s economic and cultural vitality?
Two major airlines prominently featured downtown Phoenix in their inflight magazines. Delta Sky Magazine’s “1 City, 5 Ways” article invites art and design buffs to visit downtown and the Roosevelt Row arts district. The article in US Airways Magazine – “Phoenix’s Cool Heart“ – showcases a number of our downtown retail, dining, and tourist attractions.
Both are excellent reads, and we have the Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau to thank for “pitching” our downtown story.
Arizona State University’s School of Art is moving five of its ten graduate studio programs to downtown Phoenix’s warehouse district, specifically the historic Levine Machine building at 605 E. Grant. The graduate painting and drawing programs, studios, and Step Gallery will make the move by January 15, 2014.
By mid-May 2014, the sculpture, fiber, and intermedia programs will transition from the Tempe campus. An opening reception will be held on January 17, 2014 from 7 to 9 p.m. to allow the public to tour the space and view work by graduate students in the drawing and painting programs.
Also on November 20, the Hance Park Master Plan Design Team presented their initial concept ideas for Hance Park at a community meeting attended by over 100 interested citizens. The general consensus was that the team was on the right rack. The team has posted a summary of their concept ideas here. With additional feedback from stakeholders and the public, an Interim Master Plan will be presented on January 22, 2014 and a Final Master Plan will be presented on May 26, 2014
Valley bicycle enthusiasts turned “Black Friday” into “Green Friday” this year when pre-launch founding memberships for the new Grid Bike Share program went on sale. A limited number of founding memberships are available and can be purchased at Grid, which is set to launch in Phoenix in early 2014, and will consist of a fleet of public bicycles, which are docked at self-service stations in downtown and central Phoenix and near the Metro Light Rail. The program will expand to include Tempe and Mesa in Spring 2014. Grid members or day pass users can locate, reserve, and check out the GPS-enabled bikes using the Grid Bikes app, personal computers, kiosks, or on the bikes directly.
- First Friday Artwalk, Downtown, Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, Dec. 6
- PJs in the Park, Civic Space Park, Dec. 6
- Phoenix Suns Host the Toronto Raptors, US Airways Center, Dec. 6
- Phoenix Brewers Invitational Festival, “Get Crafty 2013,” Heritage & Science Park, Dec. 7
- Phoenix Phabulous Experience, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Dec. 11
- Phoenix Festival of the Arts, Margaret T. Hance Park, Dec. 13-15
- A Day in the Park, Hance Park, Dec. 14
While much of the Phoenix region continues to develop as a suburban city, a growing group of urbanites are changing downtown and central Phoenix for the better. The Phoenix City Council recently approved a series of code changes in the core and along light rail that will facilitate more dense urban infill. In addition, the City has created a dedicated infill development team to find creative solutions to difficult urban site plan review issues. By every measure downtown Phoenix is becoming a more vibrant and energized place. Recognizing our emerging urban character by making it easier to developed constrained urban lots and undertake adaptive reuse of existing buildings will accelerate this effort. Kudos to Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona for taking a leadership role in this effort and for never giving up on what urban Phoenix can be. And thanks to Alan Stephenson, Cindy Stotler, and their Planning and Development Department team who continue to stay focused on moving things forward for our community.
Barrett, The Honors College at ASU Downtown have finished their fall 2013 semester course, “HON 497: Downtown Phoenix Community Encounters” and invited the community to hear what they have learned about our downtown in an end-of-semester presentation showcase. Topics covered in the six-week class include downtown Phoenix history; entrepreneurship and local business; government, politics, and activism; places, spaces, and adaptive reuse; promoting arts and culture; and sustainable and vital living. Learn more about this important class.
How can we help others?
Now in its 10th year, the Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors’ Holiday Food Drive benefiting St. Mary’s Food Bank has set an ambitious goal of collecting five tons of food and water for those less fortunate. In addition to permanent drop boxes at the Ambassador Information Center at 101 N. 1st Avenue, there will be boxes available at several of the holiday events happening downtown this season, including PJs In the Park on December 6. All donations will earn entry into weekly prize drawings that could land Stand Up Live tickets or restaurant gift certificates. If you’d like a donation drop box for your office or want to schedule a donation pickup, call R.J. Price at 602-744-6410 or click here for more information.
Thanks to the efforts of Jill Johnson (Program Manager) and Doctor Diane Facinelli, students who participate in the course are steeped like tea bags in everything “downtown Phoenix” through a combination of tours and presentations by local historians, business people, city officials, arts community representatives, local community development wizards and urban sustainability advocates.
The goal is to break down any myths and misapprehensions young people who are new to downtown may have about their surroundings, and to give them access to the people on the ground who are transforming our urban core.
The course is divided into six areas, including Downtown Phoenix History; Entrepreneurship & Local Business; Governance, Politics and Activism; Places, Spaces and Adaptive Re-Use; Promoting Arts & Culture; and Sustainable and Vital Living.
Local experts in each area are brought in to meet with students and share their insights about how and why they do what they do and to show the impact they’re having. Students are not only encouraged to get involved, they are introduced to the very people and organizations that can get them started bringing their own passions and skills to bear on making the urban core vibrant.
“Incoming freshmen are sometimes disappointed to find themselves in downtown Phoenix versus the ASU campus in Tempe,” says Jill Johnson, the “connector” who makes the class viable and relevant. “We use ‘Community Encounters’ to dispel their fears, to show them what is happening right outside their student bubble, and to educate them about the wealth of opportunities they have available to them in downtown.”
The value of growing this connection between young ASU students and the downtown community is in reaching a potential new generation of residents who will want to live, work and play in downtown and create sustained vibrancy on our streets.
Jim McPherson, co-author with J. Seth Anderson and Suad Mahmuljin of Downtown Phoenix History, opens the course by sharing the historic context of the city’s evolution. “Students read our book before class,” said McPherson, “and then we take them on a combination bus and walking tour that enables them to see some of the areas featured in the book. We show them how historic places are contributing to the contemporary landscape of the city.”
“The purpose of the class is to provide students with variety of entry points for them to become active, engaged urban citizens,” said Johnson. “The students benefit from being exposed to the rich variety of experiences available to them in downtown, and the community benefits from the talent and energy the students can bring to making the best downtown possible. It’s as they say, a ‘win-win’ situation.”
Find out what this years’ students learned and how the class has impacted their perceptions of downtown at ENCOUNTER THIS! Community Encounters Showcase. At this free public event, groups of students who have worked together will show the community what they’ve learned and share how it has changed their perspective.
If You Go
When: Thursday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Where: A.E. England Building, Civic Space Park
Cost: FREE to public, but reservations are appreciated. Reserve your space now.
Contact: Jill.Johnson@asu.edu; 602-496-0557.
Practice your chicken dance, don your favorite walking shoes, and gather your fowl-loving friends for the Valley Permaculture Alliance’s Sustainability Festival and fifth annual Tour de Coops this Saturday at PHX Renews.
Organized in partnership with Keep Phoenix Beautiful at a 15-acre vacant land repurposing project at the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue, the free festival features live music, food trucks, raffles, kids’ activities, and sustainability classes along with contests for best chicken call, best chicken dance, and coop design. Bring your mesquite and carob beans for milling into nutritious, tasty flour (continues on November 17).
Visit Valley chicken coops and talk with urban farmers about their feathered flocks and sustainability ideas on the self-guided Tour de Coops. Tickets are $20 for adults ($15 in advance; free for kids 14 and under with adult ticket-holder), and the tour includes a printed guide and map to participating coops throughout Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, and Glendale, along with a bike tour option.
Past tours have featured friendly, helpful chicken owners willing to discuss everything from feed to coop construction to flock-friendly gardening and water harvesting.
All photos courtesy Tour de Coops.
If you go:
- Tour de Coops (adult tickets $15-$20; free for kids 14 and under) and free Sustainability Festival
- Saturday, November 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at PHX Renews and coop sites around the Valley
- Visit tourdecoops.vpaaz.org or call 602-325-1230
- Resources for poultry information and supplies:
David Krietor has served as President/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 first chat here.
The Fall semester is now in full swing. By the numbers, how many students do we now have in downtown?
Yes, school is back in session and joining us in downtown Phoenix are over 20,000 students.
- 18,500 students in a variety of disciplines at Arizona State University downtown Phoenix campus.
- 1,300 future attorneys at Phoenix College of Law.
- 289 future scientists and researchers at Phoenix Union Bioscience High School.
- 282 future physicians at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
- 172 future allied health professionals at Northern Arizona University’s Phoenix Biomedical Campus facility.
- 90 Grand Canyon University students happen to reside at the just-opened Roosevelt Point.
Let’s welcome them with open arms and strive to ensure their “home away from home” is the best possible experience.
What is the latest regarding DPI’s organizational capacity?
The Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) Executive Committee approved its affiliate agreement with DPI similar to the agreement signed with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP). The agreement designates PCA as DPI’s membership affiliate. PCA’s Executive Committee also reviewed a revised PCA mission statement that is focused in part on broadening and deepening their membership base consistent with the makeup of our emerging downtown community. An active group of PCA members and friends drafted the new mission statement.
With agreements in place with our two key affiliates, DPI now must produce a consolidated DPI/PCA/DPP program of work and budget for 2014 that creates synergy, fills in program gaps, and eliminates overlap and inefficiencies.
What are some examples of downtown’s economic and cultural vitality?
Downtown is connected to a diverse collection of neighborhoods whose vibrancy is vital if we are going to have a true downtown “community.” I was reminded recently how diverse we are when I attended the Grant Park Neighborhood Association meeting. The cultural heritage and sense of commitment to a strong urban core are very evident in Grant Park. While there are challenges more complicated than in other downtown neighborhoods, there is also a sense of optimism. The meeting was held in the Grant Park gym. As I was leaving the evening meeting the park was filled with young families and kids playing basketball. In some ways it represents what our aspirations are for community engagement and activity at Margaret T. Hance Park. DPI Advisory Committee Member Eva Olivas and her organization, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, are very much involved in the Grant Park community.
An easy way to get involved? Attend or support an Event!
Here are just a few as event season kicks into high gear:
Downtown, Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row
Hance Park/Historic Roosevelt
A.E. England, Downtown
The Duce, Downtown
Downtown, Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row
I also had an opportunity to attend the Central City Village Planning Committee and Evans Churchill Community Association meetings since my last communiqué to you. At the latter, Nichelle Zazueta-Bonow with the City of Phoenix Community & Economic Development Department provided a timetable on sidewalk and shade improvements for Fifth Street from the Phoenix Biomedical Campus to Roosevelt Row. This project, conceived with significant stakeholder input, will improve walkability in the neighborhood. In addition, Bob Diehl of the City of Phoenix Complete Streets Citizens Advisory Committee encouraged interested individuals to review and comment on the City’s Draft Complete Streets Policy. A “complete street” is a design concept that offers guidelines to ensure roads, sidewalks, and other streetscape elements are accessible, convenient, and safe for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
The Hance Park Master Plan Design Team, comprised of internationally recognized design experts, held a series of community and stakeholder workshops to seek ideas for an improved Margaret T. Hance Park.
In other good news… Did you hear that the Phoenix Public Market was just rated the fourth best farmers’ market in America by The Daily Meal website? Also, word on the street (Jefferson to be exact) is that the crane over the Hotel Palomar came down and leasing for CityScape Residences atop the hotel will begin soon.
Historic preservation is a hot button issue for many in the community. How is this type of advocacy and leadership carrying over to other development issues?
While the City of Phoenix has a long-standing and nationally recognized ordinance supporting historic preservation, we continue to have instances where buildings that represent our past are demolished or threatened. One only needs to look at the Orpheum Theatre, Bentley Projects, Ellis Shackelford House, Winship House, and Hanny’s to see how historic properties can contribute to the richness of downtown.
Circle K wants to abandon their current store on the northeast corner of Seventh Street and Roosevelt and expand on the block south on an empty lot where a vintage warehouse once stood. Over significant neighborhood objection a year ago, Circle K rescinded their plan. The company is back with a revised plan and application for a liquor license. Councilman Michael Johnson and DPI have strongly encouraged Circle K representatives to communicate with the impacted neighborhood associations.
Why are neighborhood and downtown advocates opposed to Circle K’s expansion? Linked here are letters from numerous downtown and neighborhood groups, including several DPI partners (City of Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Downtown Voices Coalition, and Phoenix Community Alliance) outlining concern about crime, noise, traffic congestion, and/or lackluster building and site design at the northeast gateway into our downtown. View the proposed site plan here.
Several City-led efforts are underway that may help the situation in the future:
- Mayor Greg Stanton is seeking the advice of historic preservation advocates, urban planners, and developers with significant experience in historic rehabilitation on finding additional incentives for preservation, refining city procedures and processes to encourage preservation, and prioritizing key preservation projects citywide. I’m happy to serve on the informal panel, and I’m learning a great deal about our city’s heritage, including our “place in the sun” with nationally acclaimed post-World War II architecture.
- This spring and summer, two citizen panels examined the strengths and weaknesses of existing urban infill policies, programs, incentives, and requirements. On October 9 at the A.E. England Building in Civic Space Park, these Infill Advisory Groups and city Planning and Development Department staff will present the groups’ discussions, work plans, and Phase I recommendations. I encourage you to attend the public meeting if your schedule permits.
What do you hear from the Downtown Voices Coalition?
For over nine years, the Downtown Voices Coalition, today chaired by DPI Board Member Tim Eigo, has met on the second Saturday of each month to discuss downtown issues from a grassroots and neighborhood perspective. A diverse group of 25-plus community members attended Saturday’s meeting and their agenda was lengthy and lively (which they readily admit is usually the case).
- Richard Stanley from ASU previewed plans to move the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law from the Tempe campus to downtown Phoenix into a new Arizona Center for Law and Society on the site of the demolished Sahara/Ramada motel.
- Ray Dovalina with the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department provided an update on the city’s move to approve a Complete Streets Policy and news of upcoming improvements on Grand Avenue and First Street between Washington and Moreland.
- Catrina Kahler of Artlink Phoenix outlined several significant organizational moves to further engrain art – and Artlink – into downtown’s revitalization. (Kahler is also publisher of DPJ)
- Sean Sweat of Thunderdome Neighborhood Association for Non-Auto Mobility outlined a street parking plan for the Evans Churchill neighborhood that is now being vetted by local stakeholders and city officials for adoption.
There are few “sounding boards” like the Downtown Voices Coalition, and the open exchange and frank debate have made for a better community.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Phoenix Mercury will host a backpack drive on Friday, August 9 at US Airways Center, prior to the team’s matchup with the Tulsa Shock. The collection will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Casino Arizona Pavilion, with the game scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. All backpacks will be donated to Playworks, a local non-profit organization, who will distribute them to Valley Title I schools.
Fans are encouraged to donate new backpacks filled with school supplies, such as crayons, spiral notebooks, pencils and glue sticks. For each filled backpack, fans will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win autographed Mercury merchandise including: a 2013 Mercury team basketball, Diana Taurasi shoe, Penny Taylor jersey and player photographs.
Backpacks will be collected by a group of Valley students, who will demonstrate the importance of “kids helping kids.”
“The new school year is an exciting time for students, but it can also be an expensive time for families,” said Mercury president and COO Amber Cox. “The Phoenix Mercury is dedicated to helping Valley children and is thrilled to work with local students and Playworks to provide backpacks and school supplies to underserved youth.”
Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time play coaches focused on recess and anti-bullying to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas. The organization also provides training and technical assistance to schools, districts and youth organizations that wish to include inclusive, healthy play as part of a positive learning environment.