One block east of bustling Central Avenue and just north of busy Camelback Road lies Windsor Square, a cozy Uptown historic district established in 1929 and consisting of about 260 homes.
Sunday, March 25, twelve homeowners in the district will open their doors to the public for the biennial, self-guided Windsor Square Home and Garden Tour and Street Festival.
Baker’s 1939 French Provincial home, which will be featured on this year’s tour, boasts its original red brick exterior, but the nearly 3,000 square-foot interior and backyard have endured extensive renovations.
Inside the home, natural light fills the rooms that were opened up and added on during its remodel, and decorations ranging from Pottery Barn furniture to trinkets and art from around the world enhance and individualize the space.
“It’s eclectic because I have some things from Hawaii where I lived for 30 years and then I have a lot of things that are just things I like,” she says.
On the west side of the house, a round green table with four seats and a high chair sits in the center of what Baker refers to as the “breakfast room.” A tall bookshelf adorned with some of her mother’s collected bird cages rests in one corner, and a single bird cage from Hong Kong hangs in the other.
The breakfast room makes up part of the immaculate kitchen, which consists of light wood cupboards embellished with pottery and dishes, an L-shaped brown granite countertop with a rounded end, and slate flooring.
A brick wall lines the back of the kitchen and Baker explains that it was originally the rear wall of the house, possibly containing an alcove for a washer and dryer. Now, through an open doorway, a pantry, bathroom and washer and dryer occupy a small hallway. At the end of the hallway, a mudroom turned playroom holds her grandchildren’s toys.
“I call this the grandmother’s house,” she says with a laugh. “I bought this house for my grandchildren to live in and enjoy and visit, and to have spaces and places for everything.”
The east side of the house exhibits a spacious dining room where a narrow living room previously stood. A dark brown table with six chairs sits atop a multicolored rug in the middle of the blue-walled room, and a brick fireplace lies between the two windows.
The dining room marked the edge of the house until the 1960s renovations. Three bedrooms now branch off a large living room along with the master suite, which was constructed from the original two bedrooms and single bathroom that were once accessible from the kitchen.
Long glass doors lead to the backyard which includes a swimming pool, a grassy area and a charming patio lined with potted flowers. A bee pollinates blue hibiscus flowers, the pride of Baker’s garden this spring and a reminder of the 30 years she spent in Honolulu, Hawaii working in public relations and advertising.
Just outside of the backyard resides a two and one half car garage, transformed from a one bedroom and one bathroom guest house.
“Something about having to walk outside from your garage to your house just tends to make you more connected to the neighborhood,” Baker says.
“I came down here (to Windsor) and I loved it,” she says. “I think a lot of it, which I didn’t realize at the time, was that it reminded me of the neighborhoods I grew up in in Phoenix.”
She purchased the home in September 2010 and her neighbors welcomed her with flowers and party invites.
Baker (pictured right) explains that the neighborhood is a diverse area with warm and friendly residents who share a similar vibe.
“We like to call it ‘Mayberry USA,’” she laughs.
Baker, who was recently elected president of the Windsor Square Special Planning District Board, joined the tour because she thought showcasing her home would be a fun experience.
“I love to entertain, and I just love my house and I’d like to share it with people,” she says.
She adds that it’s a great way to contribute to the community’s biggest fundraiser.
Baker says the residences on the tour range from a small Pueblo Revival home to the grandiose Lutfy home, a Spanish Colonial Revival building that owner Philip Lutfy spent months restoring to its 1939 state.
“We love to welcome people into our neighborhood and we love to show off our fun little secret that we have back here,” she says. “It’ll be a good day.”
If you go:
Where: Medlock Drive and 2nd Street (one block east of Central Avenue and just north of Camelback Road)
Date: Sunday, March 25, 2012
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $12 per person. One child under 12 per paying adult enters free. Can be purchased at Medlock Drive and 2nd Street or online
Some news items don’t need translation. That’s why DPJ launched the From the Wire series, so we could serve the destinations here by posting information and announcements – in their own words.
Program will pay up to $3000 of home energy efficiency improvement costs
Energize Phoenix is hosting “It’s Easy With Energize Phoenix”, a community energy efficiency fair and contractor exhibit at the Burton Barr Central Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2012.
The event is open to the public and will offer the opportunity for eligible homeowners to sign up for a free home energy check-up and receive up to $3,000 in rebates to pay for their home energy efficiency improvement costs. In many cases, this will pay for 100 percent of the energy efficiency project costs. Eligible homeowners must sign up with an Energize Phoenix approved contractor on the day of the event to qualify for the offer. Typical project costs to date range from $600 to $5,000 and include:
*The offer does not include air conditioners or solar water heaters. Standard rebates apply.
**Energize Phoenix rebates cannot exceed total project costs.
Energize Phoenix approved contractors also will be available to help homeowners identify energy saving opportunities and assist them with applying for incentives from Energize Phoenix and APS. In addition, attendees who ride the light rail and show ticket fare will receive a free CFL bulb (limited supply available).
Energize Phoenix offers cash incentives and financing to help pay for energy saving projects for homes and businesses located within the Energize Phoenix Corridor, a 10-mile stretch along the light rail line. To access Energize Phoenix program incentives, you must use an Energize Phoenix approved contractor.
To find out if you qualify, enter your address on the website energizephx.com or call (602) 495-5275 to learn more.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2012
Where: Burton Barr Central Library (north parking lot), 1221 N. Central Ave. (Southeast corner of Central Avenue and Willetta Street)
The city of Phoenix was awarded a $25 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to launch the Energize Phoenix program in partnership with Arizona State University and with support from Arizona Public Service. The Energize Phoenix program saves energy, creates jobs and will transform a diverse array of neighborhoods along the METRO light rail.
If we heard about an area like Downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Street developing in another city, we’d be pretty jazzed about the concept.
What’s not to love about an organic arts district and an established historic neighborhood coming into their own, with small businesses, events, community engagement and more taking hold. We could imagine the streetscape, historic buildings, retail opportunities, and increasing number of pedestrians populating the sidewalks.
Naturally, the pièce de résistance of that vibrant, connected, city scene are chic bicyclists safely riding to and from markets, art galleries and cafés.
So, imagine our surprise (quelle surprise! – yes, we think in French when musing about urban bicycling) when we read this online petition posted by Greg Esser of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation.
Could it be that a current street improvement plan excludes bike lanes, on what is one of downtown’s busiest, and one would think, multi-modal oriented thoroughfares?
The petition explains:
Roosevelt Street currently experiences a high volume of bicycle use. Bicycle lanes significantly increase safety for bicyclists, vehicles and pedestrians. Phoenix City Council adopted the Downtown Plan in 2008 which recommends installation of bike lanes along Roosevelt Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Street.
Wouldn’t we, as a community, want to show off the Historic Roosevelt district’s beautiful streetscape to roaming pedal-pushers? And as destinations continue to pop-up in the Evans Churchill Neighborhood, wouldn’t any plans of development include this critical mode of transportation, especially given the proximity of a popular Light Rail station at Central/Roosevelt?
It seems the current answer is “no.” If you want to try and change that, you might want to add your name to the growing list of petitioners.
If you’re confused by the real estate market, don’t worry. It’s changing as fast as the GOP presidential race changes its front runner.
Let’s try and unscramble the very complex real estate market in Downtown Phoenix and quickly contrast that with the national picture you hear about every day.
Phoenix, like any of our great cities, intensifies everything you see in the suburbs into much smaller micro markets that have dramatically different pricing and sales from block to block.
When you turn on the news, the stories won’t reflect your very local market. They are usually national, taken from what’s called “lagging stats,” and often reported quarterly. An average listing can take 60 to 90 days to sell, three months to close, then add another month or two to report the quarter. The news you are hearing is really really old.
Leading stats are rarely reported in anything but a hot market. Active listing prices and pending sales are leading stats, a reasonable, but not guaranteed, measure. Let’s look at some on a valley-wide level.
Michael Orr of ASU reported in The Cromford Report how pending sale prices are rocketing skyward this month in the valley (see right). A leap from an average $82/sf to just over $88/sf is a scary reflection of the heady days of 2005. But this is still macro. How is this affecting Downtown Phoenix?
Let’s take a quick look at condos. A great example of micro market and perception. Portland Place, One Lexington and Summit at Copper Square are three “new” builds, all walkable, with great amenities, and built to excellent standards.
- Summit: six recent sales avg $110/sf, two pending avg $121/sf, two active avg $137/sf.
- Portland Place: four recent sales avg $174/sf, two pending avg $179/sf, two active avg $219/sf.
- One Lexington: six recent sales avg $231/sf, one pending $189/sf, three active $250/sf. (note the pending sample is just one lower level unit)
As you can see, the trend is clearly upward, per Mike Orr’s stats. But the pricing is simply down to perception. One Lexington hasn’t gone through the foreclosures and chaos of the last few years. Portland Place and Summit have.
To sum up, that’s exactly why some areas are still lagging and some are leading, they just went through a harder time than the rest. Think how confident the market is in your subdivision. When your micro market recovers, your home will do the same. Don’t listen to the national news. Listen to the micro market you are buying or selling in and talk to a local realtor to learn more.
About the author
David represents Russ Lyon Sotheby’s international Realty and runs a real estate team, Habitat Urban, that specializes in the major downtown areas of Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix. As a Londoner and someone who had never lived in a home younger than 70 years old before moving here, David has a soft spot for Downtown Phoenix and the central corridor. He finds himself in a love affair with both the historic districts and the energy and ambition of the new buildings in this young and vibrant city. Recent Phoenix developments David has represented include Portland Place Condominiums and One Lexington. As a recognized expert in condominium sales, he has appeared on NPR’s “Here and Now,” Fox News Network and as an expert resource for local Phoenix media. He is also partner in DPJ’s Live Here Real Estate section, launched in 2011.
A community conversation was held this morning at the Ro2 Lot, on the northeast corner of 2nd and Roosevelt Streets, to discuss temporary use projects for empty lots in Downtown Phoenix.
Over one hundred people showed up to hear Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and William McDonough (international sustainability expert and the author of Cradle to Cradle) discuss urban sustainability efforts both locally and internationally, with a particular emphasis on ways in which the City of Phoenix can create incentives for private property owners to participate in temporary lot activation projects.
Stanton noted that as the economy begins to improve, we have “a unique moment in time” to rethink development, to “do it right” and not go back to “the same old same old.” As one way of “doing it right,” he proposed using empty city lots as demonstration projects to show what can be done. Appropriate temporary use projects could include gardens, arts spaces, pocket parks and more.
Mayor Stanton was quick to point out that there is nothing anti-private property about encouraging these projects and that a savvy developer can develop a great deal of good will in the community by allowing appropriate temporary use. He hinted that he will be making an announcement within the next thirty days involving “a big empty lot project.” The where and what remains unknown for now.
Beyond the issue of temporary activation of vacant lots, Stanton addressed the next evolution of transportation in a regional environment and pointed out that all transportation systems need to be supportive of our aging population, and that development along the light rail and walkability are important quality of life factors as we grow older.
He also addressed the role of historic preservation in overall sustainability efforts, mentioning the A.E. England building as a “great demonstration project” of how an historic building can be adapted to new uses, and applauding Michael Levine’s work in restoring the historic warehouses just south of Downtown.
The Lot – What Should Go Here? is a “Phoenix-based community project to help creatively activate and transform one vacant lot at a time into temporary spaces the community can enjoy until they are later developed.” Community partners in this initiative include Roosevelt Row CDC, the ASU Global Institute for Sustainability, Urban Initiatives, Continental Shift, Edge Industries/The Funk Lab, monOrchid , Champion PR + Consulting, and Envirogreen.