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
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.
Roosevelt Row Arts District to Get A New Look and Pop-Up Art Gallery to Increase Vibrancy, Thanks to ArtPlace Grant
ArtPlace releases 47 grants supporting creative placemaking initiatives in 33 communities nationwide
Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo), in the urban core of downtown Phoenix, is a neighborhood on the rise, with unique galleries, restaurants, and shops. A $150,000 grant announced today from ArtPlace will bring an infusion of art and design to the area, defining the neighborhood as a destination for locals and visitors alike.
An “A.R.T.S. Village” – consisting of shipping container studios, performance space, and a new urban market garden – is central to the plan, which also includes hiring a design team to create a vision for the future development of the district and new streetscape design guidelines to visually define the area.
ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.
“Across the country, cities and towns are using the arts to help shape their social, physical, and economic characters,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state, and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously.”
“With this ArtPlace grant, Roosevelt Row is able carry forth projects that help define our community as a vibrant arts district,” said Cindy Dach, Acting Director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. “Since 2001, RoRo has grown to more than 3 dozen shops, galleries and restaurants and has become a real destination. Our work has always been implemented by a small group of dedicated people and volunteers with a vision for a more liveable community. This grant brings us one step closer to turning visions into realities.”
In the early 1940s, numerous businesses were established along Roosevelt Street, the heart of the district. In the 1970s, parts of the area were re-zoned, eventually resulting in a downturn in the neighborhood that lasted until the late 1990s. The blighted area was attractive to artists because the boarded-up buildings and former crack houses were affordable for studio and gallery space. The arts were a major factor in the revitalization of the area and crime rates plummeted as more people began to venture into the area to experience the cultural vibrancy.
ArtPlace received almost 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47 projects selected each take a unique and locally-focused approach to creative placemaking, from the creation of a Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood to generate vibrancy and economic growth for the local community to ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that combines a number of unconnected arts and cultural initiatives in Eastport, Maine for greater effect.
“These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explained ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design, and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”
In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity, and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants.
Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The William Penn Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife, and Morgan Stanley.