Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro
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.
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.
Eleven-mile Phoenix West extension to be added to regional transit map
METRO received regional approval today from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) on the route and transit mode for the Phoenix West extension. Light rail will be extended 11 miles from downtown Phoenix, through the State Capitol area, to approximately 79th Avenue and the I-10 West freeway. This is METRO’s first freeway corridor project, providing the growing West Valley with a higher-capacity and more efficient transit option by 2023.
“This project is an opportunity to extend the multi-modal Total Transit Network to the West Valley,” said Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta. “It will help ease congestion on the busy Interstate 10 freeway and provide swift connectivity to jobs, schools, activity centers and entertainment options across the Valley.”
In 2007, METRO and the City of Phoenix initiated the Phoenix West Alternatives Analysis study to identify potential high capacity transit improvements for the West Valley. Throughout the years, the project team has conducted significant technical analysis, partnered with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and integrated public input to define the route and mode.
“Today’s approval is another critical step toward delivering a comprehensive transit system that our city and our region deserve,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “Light rail is key to our city’s new economic future; it creates jobs, further connects our community with sustainable transportation options and creates a multitude of new business development opportunities. We must continue that growth.”
Light rail as a fixed investment and the route design will provide opportunities for economic development and community revitalization. Within the freeway, the route will move from the median to the north side at approximately 47th Avenue to help create additional development.
“The light rail extension will connect vital West Phoenix destinations like Desert Sky Mall, Ashley Furniture Pavilion, and other businesses to the rest of the Valley, creating a synergy that will help drive the area’s economy,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski who represents this district. “It will also offer West Phoenix residents a cost-effective, sustainable transportation option and creates an economic bridge to our city’s westside.”
Today’s MAG action will update the project in the long-range regional transportation plan following an air conformity analysis. The project will now enter the environmental assessment phase, where early design work can also begin.
For more information on the Phoenix West extension, visit www.metrolightrail.org/phoenixwest. To stay up-to-date with the project and be added to the email distribution list, contact Terry Gruver at 480-664-2631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
METRO is responsible for the development and operation of the region’s high-capacity transit system. The first 20-mile light rail line opened December 2008 and served 13.2 million riders in 2011, exceeding the prior year by four percent. METRO serves an average of 45,000 riders per weekday. It is also planning for six extensions that will create a 57-mile system by 2032.
It’s time to celebrate spring with Valley Metro’s Valley Bike Month. Events will take place in greater downtown Phoenix and all across the valley area.
Like a handlebar flowing with streamers, April is filled with festive bicycling activities varying from family fun rides and used bike drives to safety seminars.
• Pedal Craft PHX: April 20, Downtown
• Bike to Work and School Day: April 18, Valley-wide
• The Valley Metro Great Bike Chase and Game: April 22, Downtown
• Valley Bike Month Contest: All month long, Valley-wide
To participate in the Valley Bike Month Contest, first enter online, then be sure to ride your bike to work, for fun, or attend a biking event during Bike Month. Prizes include a Novara Corsa bike, bike tune-ups, hotel stays, or gift certificates for food and entertainment.
Adding to the Valley Bike Month activities, Valley Metro is partnering with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Urban Commons Summit, and several local bike clubs to provide free valet bicycle parking for every D-backs game during Bike Month.
All April long, cyclists can bring their bikes to the designated area at the Urban Commons Summit, just across from Chase Field on Fourth Street. A volunteer will attach a claim check to the bike, and give the matching number to the rider. All the biker has to do is hold on to their valet ticket, enjoy the game, then return within an hour after it’s over to pick up their bike. The service is free of charge (however, the volunteers will gladly accept tips).
“Cycling has seen a surge in popularity recently, especially in central Phoenix. We are modeling our program after the successful partnership between the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition” said Suzanne Day, Valley Bike Month coordinator.
The Urban Commons Summit is donating use of the Summit at Copper Square (pictured left) space to help support the effort. Other local organizations participating to help staff the bike valet include the Arizona Bicycle Club, the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, the Tempe Bike Action Group, and more.
The partnership offers a temporary solution to the lack of bike parking downtown, and encourages more people to use something other than their cars to get to Chase Field. Downtowners can ride on over, and those who live a little further out have an incentive to bike to their nearest light rail station to get to the game. Positively impacting local air quality, decreasing pollution, and boosting the urban bike scene — win, win, and win!
Valley Metro Great Bike Chase & Game
On April 22, the Diamondbacks play the Braves at Chase Field. That’s fun in and of itself, but for this special Bike Month event, join hundreds of other bicyclists for a group ride from Margaret T. Hance Park to to Chase Field with a few stops and festivities along the way.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., there will be individual and group bike rides, a bike expo and safety rodeo, and kids’ activities. Participants will get discounted D-backs tickets and free valet bike parking (see above), with the game starting at 1:10 p.m. Get registered for the Great Bike Chase here.
Whether you’ve participated in Bike Month before or you’re new to pedal-pushing, there’s a way for everyone to celebrate getting around on two wheels, including families, those looking to learn more about bike culture, and people who ride their bikes every single day.