Downtown Phoenix Partnership
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Space_Between Vacant Lot Activation
This temporary vacant lot activation project, part of Phoenix Urban Design Week, will bring a new community space to Downtown in the shape of a backyard patio where residents, visitors, downtown employees and students can play, relax and commune. Join us and offer your suggestions for the space – a team of designers will be on hand to translate your vision and input from adjacent stakeholders into a site plan that the Downtown Phoenix Partnership will then implement.
Thank you to Valley Youth Theater for hosting us in their venue, can’t wait to have some of that creative energy to spill out into a great plan for the site! Feel free to invite anyone who may be interested in this project, more details and RSVP on Facebook.
Photo by Sean Deckert, courtesy of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
This morning, the Phoenix City Council Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee unanimously approved the first step in creating a new Enhanced Municipal Services District (EMSD) in the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill community just north of the downtown core.
The subcommittee recommended that the City Council authorize a contract not to exceed $90,000 with Downtown Phoenix, Inc. to create an in-depth study involving extensive outreach to property owners over the next 8-12 months. The money for the study will come out of the Downtown Community Reinvestment Fund, created for just such purposes.
The focus of the study will be to develop the EMSD concept for the area, to determine the boundaries of the new district, to identify the specific services to be covered, to determine the costs, and to create the governance structure for the EMSD. The recommendation will go to the full City Council for approval next week.
Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC co-founder and board member sees the EMSD as a “valuable tool to make a lasting impact in this area.”
What exactly is an EMSD and why is this an exciting development for downtown? In simple terms, it is a public/private partnership that is developed to provide enhanced services to a specific area above and beyond basic city services.
Since 1974, when the first Downtown Development District (in the United States) was formed in New Orleans, more than 1500 districts like these have been created and are reshaping public management across the country. Key to their success is the unique public/private partnership model that generates revenue and provides the collective clout that comes from speaking with one voice.
David Krietor of Downtown Phoenix Inc. spoke in favor of the study at the subcommittee meeting saying, “These (public/private) organizations are tried and true all over the U.S. for promoting vibrant downtowns.”
Different states have different formation models for these entities and they are known by a wide range of buzzy acronyms. The most common catch-all label for them is BID (Business Improvement District). In Arizona, the formation model is called an Enhanced Municipal Service District or EMSD.
In 1990, the first EMSD in Arizona was created in downtown Phoenix. Known as the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, it brought a stable funding stream through a tax assessment on property owners within a 90-block area in downtown. This money paid for the creation of an enhanced security and hospitality program (Downtown Ambassadors), “Clean Team” maintenance, event facilitation, parking and transportation coordination, streetscape and urban design, and marketing for events. It brought focus, investment, people, and business into downtown. While this successful EMSD was improving the downtown core, something remarkable began happening just beyond its borders. The Roosevelt Row arts district was coming to life.
Just over a dozen years ago, artists, arts entrepreneurs and urban pioneers began creating and nurturing a thriving, vibrant arts district along Roosevelt Row in the historic Evans Churchill neighborhood. Over the last decade, these intrepid dreamers, including Kimber Lanning, Wayne Rainey, Greg Esser, Cindy Dach, Carla Wade, Kevin Rille, Vermon Pierre and a host of others have been building their ties, engaging with their neighbors, developing innovative partnerships, creating “must attend” events, and gaining national recognition as one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in our city.
In 2012, the neighborhood was granted a prestigious ArtsPlace Award to undertake a visioning process to create an even more vibrant, healthy community in the Roosevelt/Evans Churchill neighborhood. Out of this in-depth process, involving dozens of public meetings, events, surveys, and one-on-one conversations with residents, business owners, and visitors, the neighborhood developed a vision for the area that included the key element of creating this new EMSD.
Kevin Rille, president of the Evans Churchill Community Association, who was a key participant in this visioning process said, “We have a dynamic and engaged group, and this has been an incredibly inclusive visioning process.”
Vermon Pierre, president of the Roosevelt Row CDC added, “Piggy-backing on what Kevin said, we’re proud of the unique character of the area, and this study will assess the level of interest in owning and developing our part of the city.”
This new vision for a Roosevelt Row Artists’ District was introduced to the public at a launch party at The Nash on February 20, 2014.
From the beginning, the successful activation of the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill neighborhood has been based on the dedicated work of committed volunteers. The creation of the new EMSD will bring in revenue and create a professional organization to take their success to the next level. Approval of this study will be an important step forward for the neighborhood, and an even more important step for the overall growth and vibrancy of downtown Phoenix.
Editor’s Note: The original title of this story did not include Evans Churchill. This oversight has been corrected.
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.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
REDESIGNED DOWNTOWN PHOENIX DIRECTORY FEATURES LOCAL ART
Featuring an artistic rendering of First Street on the cover, a redesigned 2014 Downtown Phoenix January to June Directory is hitting the streets now.
Local artist Jon Arvizu’s digital rendering celebrates the new shade trees, expanded walkable space and temporary planters installed by the City of Phoenix in late 2013.
“I’m glad to see a renewed interest in making Downtown Phoenix a more pedestrian and bike-friendly destination,” Arvizu said about the improvements that inspired his cover artwork. “In a city this large, an accessible Downtown benefits everyone.”
The redesigned cover continues the recent Downtown Phoenix Partnership publication initiative to highlight the Downtown Phoenix experience through art.
The Downtown Directory, the must-have resource for visitors and urban explorers, includes business listings for over 200 businesses and 120 restaurants in the 90-square-block urban core. The new edition also features a new Walking Tours list, encouraging pedestrians to explore Downtown’s historic buildings and public art.
The Directory will be distributed to businesses, restaurants and major event locations inside and outside of Downtown and through the Downtown Ambassador team.
In addition to the 2014 January-June Downtown Phoenix Directory, information about Downtown Phoenix is easily accessible through the Partnership’s web site www.downtownphoenix.com.
Following last week’s Garfield Neighborhood’s Revitalization & Economic Development Committee meeting, the downtown community put their heads together to identify solutions for the proposed development of a new Circle K store on the southeast corner of Roosevelt and 7th Streets. The letter below reflecting this effort was sent to Circle K representatives and signed by no fewer than eight downtown Phoenix organizations, a striking level of alignment for our diverse community. Circle K must apply for a Use Permit from the City to sell alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a residential district. That hearing is Thursday, October 31, at 1:30 p.m.
Dear Mr. Cisiewski:
We, the undersigned community and business organizations, have come together in order to attempt to work with Circle K to find agreeable solutions to address our valid concerns over the proposed new store at 7th Street and Roosevelt, as well as other issues with regard to Circle K’s involvement in the downtown core. Our mutual goal for any and all stores is to prosper in a safe manner with respect to the urban nature of our community and our desire for continued growth, safety, and vibrancy in downtown Phoenix.
Clearly, as evidenced by the many public outcries against this proposal, our community has very strong trepidations about the ongoing issues at the current store and other downtown stores, including 7th Avenue and Roosevelt, 1st Avenue and Fillmore and 11th Street and Van Buren. The documented crime statistics, ongoing issues surrounding alcohol sales, and often unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the stores do not reflect well on our neighborhood or Circle K. These issues are not anecdotal, but instead the clearly defined crime statistics for the current store (171 calls for service in 7.5 months from January to August 2012); actual research conducted by Arizona State University in 2011; and reaffirmed in follow-up statistical analysis in 2012 (see attached update of ASU study) point toward a direct causation by Circle K stores. Instead of focusing on mitigating the issues, Circle K has hired lobbyists and police organizations to conduct meetings on their behalf to try to convince the community that everything is better without statistical proof to substantiate these claims. However, as a community which has clawed its way back by working together to attract $4 billion dollars of investment in the last seven years, we want to find a mutually beneficial solution that is in everyone’s best interest. We feel that we have worked hard to make downtown a substantially improved market for your business without any commitment on your part to this effect.
The organizations on this letter are prepared to support your use permit application and liquor license request if Circle K is ready to make some changes to the current proposal. We propose the following:
1. End/maintain the prohibition of sales of all single servings of alcohol at the stores at 7th Street and Roosevelt, 7th Avenue and Roosevelt, 11th Street and Van Buren and 1st Avenue and Fillmore. Circle K has already done this at the store at Fillmore and 1st Avenue with seemingly no impact on business. We also ask that Circle K end sales of 8%+ beer sold cheaply in six packs (i.e., Steel Reserve giant six pack for $4.29) at all downtown locations. Our neighborhood regularly feels the impact of the sales of this product with vagrants frequently inebriated or passed out in our community and urinating in public spaces.
2. Implement the stipulations in ZA-210-12 at the September 27, 2012 use permit hearing/follow up report of November 15, 2012. (enclosed)
3. Void all lease claims or any other claims to the existing leased site at the northeast corner of 7th Street and Roosevelt within six months of this letter. During this six month timeframe, remove all signage, underground storage tanks, gas canopies, and any other Circle K artifacts from the site. In addition, perform a full environmental remediation so the site passes a Phase II Environmental Test.
Create an urban design that mimics the placement of multiple historic buildings up and down 7th Street:
- Move the building to the property line on 7th Street and Roosevelt (corner) and place the parking and pumps directly behind (east of) the new store (note the modified site plan enclosed). This is a similar design that the city and neighborhoods worked with CVS Drug Store at Central Avenue and McDowell Road.
- Place 40-50 feet of clear glass along 7th Street and Roosevelt at the northwest corner of the building for safety and visibility. We understand the pedestrian entrance needs to be on the parking (east) side of the building. This would still allow for the necessary “blank” walls where coolers need to be placed, but make the store welcoming on both the street and parking lot sides. This would be an equal amount of glass as in your new model stores.
- As is good safety practice, the windows along the streets and entrance are not to be covered with signage.
- This design would also push the Roosevelt ingress/egress further to the east away from the intersection, reducing the likely conflicts that will happen with the current site plan.
We very much appreciate your proposed red brick façade and hope you continue using that material as well as potentially placing a higher “tower” at the immediate corner which will allow for better signage right at the intersection. We also appreciate the landscape plan (trees and wider sidewalks) for 7th Street and Roosevelt which is on your current site plan.
We understand your likely concern about placing the pumps on the east side of the building. However, the pumps will be clearly visible from both directions on 7th Street (which carries the vast majority of traffic 54,742 Vehicles Per Day-VPD) and westbound on Roosevelt (5,678 VPD, only 2,524 VPD eastbound). Signage will also help.
If this design triggers any variances the organizations below will fully support them within reason and note that they were forced due to Circle K’s desire to build a better community.
We believe these requests will not cost Circle K any money from a design perspective and in fact will make it more prominent. Furthermore, the good will generated from these actions will actually stimulate more sales for the new store.
We would prefer to not push this matter through the Board of Adjustments and Superior Court and understand that even the State Liquor Board at times denies liquor licenses as we’ve seen with similar cases, but are prepared to do this if deemed necessary. Rather, we would like to support your use permit and liquor license request at both the Phoenix City Council and State Liquor Board and welcome your new store into our community if possible.
We hope this can actually be a fruitful relationship that assists your business, instead of prolonging this mêlée which only uses the energy we all would rather be spending to continue to build a better downtown. We invite and welcome Circle K to become the strong community partner in not just promises but in actions and results moving forward.
We appreciate your willingness to work with us and look forward to your response. Please contact Kim Moody with the Garfield Organization at 602-253-7967 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Kevin Rille with the Evans Churchill Community Association at 602-625-1632 or email@example.com who will communicate to all of us so this process is much easier. Thank you.
Enclosed: Proposed new site plan for the store (download here), use permit stipulations from ZA-210-12 (download), Arizona State University, “A Multi-City Report on Crime & Disorder in Convenience Stores, follow-up report 2012 (download)
Cc: Mayor and City Council, City of Phoenix
Ed Zuercher, Acting City Manager
Rick Naimark, Deputy City Manager
Alan Stephenson, Acting Planning Director
Katherine Coles, Area Planner
Larry Tom, Zoning Administrator
Walter Crutchfield, Vintage Partners
Suzy Peel, Circle K