As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“We’ve had some opportunities come along and we’ve capitalized on them.”
Donald Brandt is Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service (APS), one of the largest employers in the state and the largest in downtown Phoenix. APS has about 1800 employees in their downtown office on 5th Street, and another 200 or so just south of downtown. Brandt moved from his hometown of St. Louis to Phoenix in 2002. He got involved in downtown in 2007, when Jack Davis, (also of APS), invited him to join the Downtown Phoenix Partnership board. Last October, Brandt then transitioned to Board Chair for the new umbrella organization, Downtown Phoenix, Inc.
We asked him to describe his first impressions of downtown in 2002 and how much has changed since the mid-2000′s. “I didn’t even know there was much of a downtown. I walked around and kind of expected to see a tumbleweed. So much has been developed in the last ten years….You look around and it’s a dramatically different city. I don’t think anyone’s going to expect to see a tumbleweed down here today.”
“So much has been developed in the last ten years….You look around and it’s a dramatically different city. I don’t think anyone’s going to expect to see a tumbleweed down here today.”
How did this change come about? “The business community, the Phoenix city government and other agencies have always had a good working relationship” said Brandt. “We’ve had some opportunities come along and we’ve capitalized on them.” From his perspective, the history of good relationships among these entities has been key. “The ASU campus downtown, no one dreamed of that 10 years ago; the restaurants, the Science Center, the light rail,” he continued. “I think it was a lot of coordination with the city, which had been a great partner all along…cooperation and coordination are important, and capitalizing on opportunities.”
Brandt was part of a team of people including Mayor Greg Stanton, Mike Ebert of RED Development, David Krietor and others, who spent the better part of a year visiting other cities to see what kind of structures they had; to understand what worked and what didn’t; and what was possible in Phoenix and what wasn’t. The cities explored included Brandt’s hometown of St. Louis, Denver and Seattle. Out of this research, “we saw an opportunity (with the creation of Downtown Phoenix Inc.), to acknowledge a broader sense of downtown and bring things together under one umbrella to coordinate and deliver a message,” said Brandt.
Brandt believes that the Downtown Phoenix, Inc. structure will expand relationships among business, government, education entities, community groups, and residents. One of the biggest benefits of this structure is that “DPI will coordinate different entities downtown…political leaders, business leaders and community leaders – just a year into it we’re beginning to speak with one voice. We set the priorities and tackle them, and, frankly, are able to bring more resources to bring to bear.”
He points out that the broadened membership component of DPI is a key part of getting everyone’s voice at the table. “PCA (Phoenix Community Alliance) was mostly the businesses and developer community. In cities that are successful with this umbrella structure, such as Denver, St. Louis, Seattle, the residents and small businesses also have membership for a modest fee and get value from it.” As an affiliate and the membership arm of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., PCA will provide that value.
“…we saw an opportunity (with the creation of Downtown Phoenix Inc.), to acknowledge a broader sense of downtown and bring things together under one umbrella to coordinate and deliver a message.”
Another thrust for DPI will be supporting and coordinating events. Brandt mentioned the success that Denver has had with their events. “Denver’s got more than 10 years on us, but we’re starting. They have one event after another and generate a net profit of about $10 million from their events. We have a few events in downtown now, but hey,” he smiles, “we have a few more months of good outdoor weather than Denver.”
So how do he and his family like to spend their free time downtown? “We come down for all kinds of sports and to eat. There’s plenty of variety down here, even just here in Arizona Center, for example. Particularly after work, we meet friends for dinner and a drink and walk over to a ball game.”
Additionally, APS often has visitors and guests from out of town and Brandt is clearly proud of what downtown has to offer visitors, including great hotels and the world-class Phoenix Convention Center.
We finished by asking Brandt his thoughts looking forward to the Super Bowl activities that will be in downtown next year. “Their (the NFL) downtown presence is going to be huge. There’s plenty of opportunity for businesses downtown to participate and support that.” He went on, “It will be a blast down here. In New York last year, 70-80,000 people went to the game, plus probably 300,000 others came in for the experience. In New York, you didn’t notice 400,000 extra people,” he laughed, “but I think we’ll feel it in downtown Phoenix.”
For spring 2014, Phoenix Fashion Week is making a downtown debut. Spring Into Fashion is one of the organization’s regular quarterly events, used to “build momentum” in anticipation of October’s fashion week, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, according to Executive Director Brian Hill.
Spurred by conversations with Mayor Stanton earlier this winter, Hill and his team “shared the vision of fashion week, what we’ve accomplished, our feature in Time magazine last fall, and how we’re putting Phoenix fashion on the map. The mayor communicated that he’d like to get us more involved with downtown events,” the first of which is this spring trend report at Arizona Center on Friday, March 28.
Friday’s runway show is a first not only for Phoenix Fashion Week, but also for the Arizona Center. Hill believes that “to find that location is a gem. No one has ever done a fashion show in this space before, and I think a lot of people are going to want to after this. The greenscape, the length of the runway, it’s really unique.”
Over 300 attendees will be treated to both men’s and women’s spring fashions.
“From a male standpoint, the trend is ‘men are getting dressed up.’ It is definitely the season of the gentleman,” says Hill.
Other featured trends are denim; black and white pairings; skinny pleats, seen in long, flowing skirts; pink in all its various shades; and mixing but not matching—change up the colors of your accessories, contrast them for an eye-catching pop.
While Spring Into Fashion is moving into the heart of Phoenix’s business district, don’t expect pantsuits and pumps. For Hill, downtown fashion is an amalgam of styles. “It’s upscale, it’s street chic, it’s urban, it’s all those kind of rolled into one. On any given day, you’ll see someone dressed completely preppy, dressed couture, you’ll see someone dressed in a national retailer like Michael Kors. You’ll see the whole spectrum downtown.”
Noting that both the Arizona Center and CityScape cater to “traditional retailers,” Hill says that “coupled with national retailers downtown, you have more of an independent or indie designer feel based downtown.”
But that is not to say that the fashion elite is turning its back on the core population who walks these downtown streets on a daily basis.
“Downtown-based students to downtown-based business people are going to come out and realize I can walk right from my office to this event downtown. We’re excited about attracting the business district here.”
If You Go
Event: Spring Into Fashion
Where: Arizona Center, 400 E Van Buren St
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014
Time: Doors open at 7 p.m. Meet the designers, stylists, media and attendees, 7 to 8 p.m.; Fashion Show, 8:30 p.m.; After Party at 1130 The Restaurant, 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Visit http://springintofashion2014.
Photos courtesy of Dan Tabar Photography
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Art Detour 26 is an All Access Pass to More than 100 Downtown Art Venues ‘Living in Color’
Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc. Host ‘Art d’Core Gala’ Celebrating a ‘Downtown for Everyone’
The 26th Annual Art Detour, March 8-9, 2014, will be an exceptional celebration of artists and their important contribution to the vibrancy of downtown Phoenix.
More than 100 spaces, including working artist studios, unique art spaces, galleries, cultural venues, restaurants and retailers will open their doors to make this the best two-day, all-access pass to the downtown arts scene in Detour’s 26-year history. [See the full list of participants: http://artlinkphoenix.com/articipants/participating-venues/]
“Detour-ists” are invited to visit artists’ private working studios not typically open for viewing, explore Pop-Up Gallery exhibits exclusively planned for Art Detour, and to discover the colorful mural scene on walls, buildings and fences throughout downtown.
A free double-decker London bus will circulate, making stops at neighborhood “park-and-ride hubs” in Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, CityScape, Arizona Center, and more, providing the public with a unique opportunity to explore Phoenix’s art scene in a fun, festival environment. The event coincides with First Friday, March 7, 2014, resulting in a weekend chock-full of arts-related experiences, exhibitions and activities.
Join the Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., Artlink and other community partners on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at the Art d’Core Gala, a celebration of the significant role the arts have played in invigorating and adding color to our downtown.
Mayor Greg Stanton will be the featured speaker of the festive event at Crescent Ballroom, toasting business leaders, small business entrepreneurs, neighborhood groups, and the flourishing arts community in an expression of shared pride in Phoenix.
“It took everyone, including the City, business, neighborhood groups, entrepreneurs and artists to bring our city this far,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “We will continue working together to add the textures, flavors, and colors that strengthen our vibrant downtown and showcase this city we love. We are building a downtown that belongs to everyone.”
This free, “fun formal” affair will feature live music and dancing; fabulous food and drink; art installations featuring premiere local artists; and an eye-popping virtual tour of downtown art spaces. Guests are encouraged to dress colorfully with creative formal attire.
“Downtown artists and arts entrepreneurs are key players in the ongoing development of our vibrant downtown core,” said David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “The Art d’Core Gala is a party where everyone can come together to celebrate the positive impact the arts have had in our remarkable city.”
WHEN: Saturday, March 1, 2014, 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. 2nd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003
TICKETS: There is no charge for this event, however, please RSVP to Art d’Core Gala
ATTIRE: Dress colorfully! Creative formal attire encouraged.
HOSTED BY: The Office of the Mayor, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Artlink Inc.
Art Detour 26 Schedule of Events:
3/1 – Art d’Core Gala at Crescent Ballroom – A festive, free, art-full celebration of our downtown hosted by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and benefiting Artlink Inc.
3/7 – Pre-Detour First Friday. March First Friday is one of the most popular of the year.
3/8-9 – Art Detour 26. A free, two-day immersive arts experience, featuring over 100 designated venues and free, circulating trolleys to help visitors enjoy self-guided studio, art space and gallery tours.
This free weekend event also offers programming for all ages, including family-friendly “Kids’ Detour” activities at participating venues.
“Artlink is excited to have partners like CityScape, Downtown Phoenix Inc., Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Phoenix Community Alliance who are helping connect Artlink to the broader downtown community,” said Catrina Kahler, President of Artlink’s Board of Directors.
The new Obliq Gallery, a contemporary urban “pop up” gallery at the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix will have a Opening Artists Reception Friday, January 4. The recently opened gallery will show four local photographers: Lou Oates, Michael Yeager, Matthew DeYoung and Dusty Parsons.
The exhibition, entitled “Successive Moments of Now” captures moments of time and places in Arizona and beyond. The artists will be on hand to discuss their work and answer your questions.
Wine, light hors d’oeurves and music will be provided. Parking is available in the Arizona Center parking garage, and can be validated for up to two hours.
If you go
Event: “Successive Moments of Now” Opening Reception
Date: Friday, January 4
Time: 6:30 to 10 p.m.
Each week, Listen Up PHX brings you The Lineup, a list of live music events going on in greater Downtown Phoenix, picked by music blogger Erin Bartynski.
Ease in to April’s concert schedule this week with a few of these local live-music suggestions!
Wednesday 4.4: The Afternoon Concert Series at Civic Space Park will have free live music outside from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come enjoy your lunch surrounded by grass, sun, and sound!
The Black Moods will be playing a free rock show at Copper Blues. Doors are at 7:30 p.m., and the show is 21+, so come early and grab a tap beer or two
The Arizona Center will host its second installment of the Live Music Series, this week featuring the Michael Villanueva Duo. Music is from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., no cover.
The Trunk Space will be celebrating their 8th birthday starting at 7 p.m., with live music by Andrew Jackson Jihad, Liam and The Ladies, Dogbreth, and Good Amount. The event is $7, and food will be provided by Green.
Sunday 4.8: Grupo Fantasma will bring their Grammy-nominated Latin sound to the Crescent Ballroom with opening band Fayuca. Doors are at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $11-12, show is 21+.