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.”
In downtown Phoenix, our affinity for refashioning the old into new is evident on every street. An old house becomes a new bar, and the classic charm creates something that a new building could never quite capture. It’s part of the city’s unique flavor.
And so, in the sweeping renaissance of our downtown area, add the DeSoto building on Roosevelt and Central to your list of new favorite places. Business owners hoping to create something new in a classic space are quivering with anticipation.
Formally C.P. Stephens DeSoto Motorcars, the DeSoto building is experiencing a long-awaited rebirth at the hands of a new owner and a historically minded architect.
Built in 1928, it was the original home of the DeSoto car dealership, but has housed an array of car companies, motorcycle shops, stores and agencies since, finally turning into a warehouse of sorts. A recent foreclosure sale put it on the market, and ultimately into the hands of the bank. From there, it became a tough sell to prospective buyers due to the age, and less-than-pristine structural status of the classic building.
But after Washington-based developer Ken Cook expressed interest, he asked Bob Graham of Phoenix-based Motley Design Group to take a look. It was Graham’s opinion that the building could be restored.
“Most people went in there … and they ran away screaming,” Graham said. “Most prospective buyers were trying to buy it purely for the land value, but Ken came in with the idea to keep the original building intact, and renovate the space to house new tenants.”
Cook made an offer to the bank, and began the process of restoring the original building with Graham’s help. The restoration became a very involved project, due both to the repairs that were needed and the commitment to maintaining the historical integrity of the space.
“Ken, as the owner, obviously is the driving force. But we designed the project for him, using all sorts of incentives to try to make the project work,” Graham said.
“We were able to get a City of Phoenix building grant from the Historic Preservation Department, and we are also using historic preservation tax credits from the federal government. Basically, any way we can figure out to sweeten the pot and make the project work. As we got into it, we found the details of what the history of the building was, and we’re really trying to leverage that history as being a really big selling point.”
In a twist of fate for a building that was created to sell cars, Graham said he hopes that tenants will exploit the location’s nearness to the Roosevelt light rail stop, and draw traffic from the busy transportation connection. They will have to, as the space only feature 11 parking spots as current plans stand.
“We need tenants that are going to be able to capitalize on light rail, pedestrians, ASU students, whoever. So if they’re appealing to that crowd, then I think it will be fine. We’re not looking for typical suburban use that people will drive for.”
Graham noted that while the exterior renovation will be done within the next two months, the interior renovation would not begin until tenants are secured. The building will house between one and five tenants comfortably, and they are planning on customizing the interior design depending on the needs and final number of tenants.
While the history of this particular building is garnering more attention than a typical restoration project, for Motley Design Group, restoration is their bread and butter. The company is one of the few architectural firms in Phoenix that focuses on historic preservation projects.
“Historic preservation is kind of my specialty. Not many architectural firms around town do it, because, well, we don’t have that much old stuff compared to other cities,” Graham said.
“I think most people like old buildings. The reason that we have so many new buildings in Phoenix is because we’ve torn down most of the old ones. From a developer’s standpoint, it’s a lot riskier to do a historic project than just to build a new one.
“But in this case, I can’t imagine that the end product would be seen by the public as being a nicer thing if it were a brand new building.”
For more information on the DeSoto Building project and tenant leasing options, visit the site.
The Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District is home to an eclectic, and very diverse, mix of the arts, small commercial enterprises, retail, industrial, affordable housing projects, social services, and historic residential.
Over the last several years, newcomers to the area have purchased the vintage commercial buildings along this diagonal strip into downtown to preserve the historic architecture or to create interesting adaptive re-use projects that are a combination of the new and the old. Hurt by the downturn, the Avenue is coming back to life with a variety of new small businesses, projects currently under renovation, streetscape planning, murals, and other arts and community related activities.
Have your own idea for a creative business or space? Check out the availability on Grand:
The Historic OS Stapley Hardware Store Buildings
The current owner is restoring these beautiful red brick buildings to their original 1920s appearance by removing interior plaster, exposing original painted signs, sandblasting interior trusses, and re-installing large storefront windows.
Location: 747 W. Grand Avenue
Space: up to 5-6,000 sq. ft. increments
Rate: Call for info
Contact: Kevin Lange, Cushman & Wakefield 602-253-7900
The Groove On Grand
In the heart of the Grand Avenue Arts and small Business District. These buildings have all been renovated for a variety of retail, art studio, and office type small businesses. It has nice outdoor seating area, a small outdoor stage, and good exposure and visibility along Lower Grand Avenue. The patio that has the beginnings of a lovely desert oasis. Owners will help build out kitchen for right, experienced bar/bistro tenant.
Henry’s Market Corner
Built in the 1920′s as a Piggly Wiggly market, the Market Corner has been purchased by a new owner who is preparing to renovate the exterior. The owner is looking for a restaurant or a neighborhood market, art studio, furniture store, or office tenant and is willing to negotiate on limited interior improvements for the right person.
Work spaces, one small theater space, art studios, small retail/office, co-working space, etc. are available in a variety of sizes and price ranges. All spaces are in vintage buildings in the Lower Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District.
Location: 1023 Grand, 1022 Grand, 1301 Grand, and 711 N. 15th Avenue
Space: Varies, call for info
Rate: 55 cents – 75 cents a sq. ft.
Contact: Beatrice or Tony at 602-391-4016
Oasis on Grand (corner commercial space)
A prime corner of the Oasis on Grand complex at Grand, Roosevelt and 15th Avenue. Looking for community friendly tenants and open to tenants who want to co-exist with several shared uses such as bar/bistro, small retail/office, gallery, etc. Owner willing to help with TI for an experienced bistro/bar tenant.
Oasis on Grand (Live/Work)
Artist live/work space in a beautifully remodeled Mid-century Modern motel building, with interior parking and leisure area. Or can be used for small galleries.
After all we’ve been through it seems amazing, but it’s true. As I’m writing, there are only FIVE condos and ten townhomes currently on the market from McDowell to Lincoln, between the 7′s.
We’ve heard the message repeatedly on the news, and more recently the housing recovery story has become endemic. The market is on the way up and demand, especially in the downtown micro market, is clearly outstripping supply. With a seemingly ever increasing number of students, new business, shops, resturants, sports, culture, and most importantly a vastly improved public transport system, Downtown Phoenix has become a very compelling place to live.
So what’s next if you want to buy a condo or townhome in downtown?
On Thursday we saw the first of several potential answers as Urban Commons (the REIT that owns half of Summit at Copper Square) hit the MLS with two condos, almost doubling the available downtown condo market. But there is a price attached. The new listings at the Summit are $60/sf more than the last recorded sales, starting at $200/sf and $285k for a two bedroom home on the 8th floor. If they sell I’d predict up to 70 more to follow over the course of the year as Summit at Copper Square comes to life again and rightfully looses its tag as the last remaining poster child of distressed buildings in downtown.
The lack of availability is also driving the two new listings at Orpheum Lofts which are $12 – $40/sf above the previous highest sale, coming in at $135k and $179k respectfully. Pricing is also up at the Townhome at St Croix Villas which is almost $70/sf above the last sale.
Expensive? Not really. In fact, the pricing is still well below build cost and will look like a bargain soon as pre-sales start to appear for some really exciting new developments.
In the meantime (at least at the time of writing), here’s where you need to go (quickly!) if you really want to be the last to buy at a bargain rate in downtown Phoenix.
Orpheum Lofts (2)
The Embassy (1)
Summit at Copper Square (2)
Artisan Village (1)
Evergreen 9 (1)
Portland Two (1)
Rennaissance Park (5)
Cathederal Townhomes (1)
St Croix Villas (1)
Student initiative took a whole new form today as the downtown Phoenix community celebrated the groundbreaking of “The Y at ASU.”
After years of pushing for a new campus recreation center, ASU students can finally expect the 64,000 square foot facility to be open by fall of 2013. The $25 million project will include an outdoor track, a weight room, a large gymnasium, and a rooftop pool designated for students only.
Arizona State President Michael Crow said this project allows the downtown Phoenix campus to “continue its evolution.”
“This project is a maturation of the university and of the downtown campus as it becomes a place to learn and a place to live,” Crow said. “It’s an indication of students making investments, as well as student engagement in the university.”
Because the project is student fee funded, Crow added that this building represents the responsibility students have taken to develop a more synergistic college environment for themselves in downtown Phoenix.
“We wanted this kind of living and learning environment on every campus, and adding a recreational building will help establish that for the Phoenix campus,” Crow said.
George Scobas, President and CEO of the Valley of the Sun YMCA, said the partnership between ASU and the YMCA has allowed a vision to turn into something real as the campus becomes an asset to the urban community.
“Over the past six years or so, there has been tremendous growth in this community,” Scobas added. “I think that in years to come, the [Lincoln Family Downtown] YMCA could be the center of the entire downtown campus.”
Scobas also said the culmination of Phoenix residents, the business community and ASU students makes the city unique and helps projects like this advance quickly due to a strong push from all community groups.
“This project rejuvenates downtown, and it’s great that we were all able to pull this together,” he said.
Deputy City Manager Rick Naimark said this project will do much more than just add another recreational building to the campus. He said it will “bring the student body together in a whole new way.”
“This is a continued effort to solidify, strengthen and add to the vibrancy of the downtown campus,” Naimark added. “It’s all without city money, which shows student initiative to improve their university and community.”
Kari Osep, a sophomore at ASU, said she appreciates the different vibe of the downtown campus compared to the Tempe campus, and she is excited to see how the new project will add to the personality of downtown.
“It’s really cool to see the impact ASU has had on this area, and a building like this was definitely missing from our campus,” Osep said.
Osep also said she is impressed with how downtown students are helping to unite the Phoenix community while improving the city and university.
“It’s good to see that students aren’t just here to go to school,” Osep added. “They are here motivating the community to expand and become something bigger and better.”
Photography by Jeff Putnam
Renderings provided by ASU