The Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) team received excellent feedback at our quarterly Board of Directors meeting earlier this week. In addition to a comprehensive overview of new development initiatives, we focused on events, membership, establishing our brand, and our work with Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill to investigate the feasibility of creating a business improvement district. Our economic development partner, the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corporation (CDC), has joined the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) in agreeing to a January 1, 2015 consolidation date. We continue to work with the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) on a similar arrangement.
Having our business, city, and community leadership at the same table focused on the future of downtown bodes well for the future.
Doing Our Best
USA Today named the Roosevelt Row Arts District one of the top ten best arts districts in the nation. Last year Roosevelt Row was spotlighted, again by USA Today, as one of the ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet.
Bleacher Report named Phoenix the 13th best city (out of 25) to be a sports fan. Rankings were based on number of teams and events, success of teams in last five years, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power, and tradition and history.
Our Bleacher Report ranking should go up a few notches as the Phoenix Mercury completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky on Sunday to win the third WNBA championship in team history. They join the Arizona Rattlers who, a few weeks earlier, won their Arena Football League championship against the Cleveland Gladiators.
Earlier this month, government, business, and civic leaders hosted representatives from the Democratic National Committee in town to evaluate Phoenix as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Phoenix was the fifth and final stop for convention planners. Other cities being considered are Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; New York City; and Philadelphia, PA. According to Mayor Stanton, “I am confident that when the DNC leadership leaves here, they will leave with an understanding that, logistically, there is no better place than Phoenix.”
What’s Brewing Downtown
Downtown Phoenix welcomes a new brewery. On September 15, Mother Bunch Brewing opened in the 1926 J.B. Bayless Grocery building at Seventh Street and Garfield. Until it offers its own signature beers in a few weeks, Mother Bunch will make available a variety of Arizona beers through its 20 taps along with a “sophisticated, but not complicated” lunch and dinner menu.
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of its Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, pubs, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in central Phoenix. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
The City of Phoenix received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate the planning, environmental, and conceptual engineering to extend Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson to Baseline Road. According to Mayor Greg Stanton, “Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities. I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”
The City of Phoenix has selected Chicago-based Smithfield Properties to develop a mixed-used project on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren, the current site of the Central Station transit facility. Smithfield proposes a 476-apartment, 390-foot building that would be one of the tallest buildings in Arizona. A parking garage also would be built as part of the new development. Metro light rail trains and Valley Metro buses still will run through the station.
New City Church will be moving into a 18,000 square foot building at 1300 North Central Avenue for more space and a central location near the Roosevelt Row Arts District. According to Pastor Brian Kruckenberg, “We love being on the ‘front porch’ of the city and are ecstatic about the growth and attention that the city’s center is getting.”
New apartments and condominiums have sprung up or are being planned in and around downtown Phoenix. That’s a positive trend. But stalwarts of downtown living are the residents of Phoenix’s historic districts who remained while others fled to the suburbs in the 50s or purchased, renovated, and brought back to life vintage homes since then. The Arizona Republic has begun to profile these neighborhoods in word and photo: Country Club Park, Del Norte Place, East Evergreen, Encanto Palmcroft, F.Q. Story, Fairview Place, La Hacienda, Margarita Place, North Encanto, North Garfield, Roosevelt, Windsor Square, Woodland, and Woodlea.
Our Creative Arts
The second RadiatePHX business and community networking event, sponsored by DPI and Downtown Phoenix Journal, was held at the ASU Step Gallery in the Warehouse District on Tuesday. The theme and conversation focused on the importance of the arts community, cultural engagement, and the work of our local creatives to help transform and improve our downtown. Guest speakers in front of a packed audience included Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Steven Tepper, the new Dean of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. We appreciated the strong participation of PCA members at this event.
Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix is opening the doors of its New Media Innovation Lab to the public, offering expert advice and support on entrepreneurial and technological endeavors.
Two members of the DPI Board of Directors were just highlighted in the press, partly due to their involvement with the arts: Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, most recently chaired Ballet Arizona’s successful campaign to create their new facility at 29th Street and Washington. Tim Eigo, editor of Arizona Attorney magazine, serves as steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition and recent host of Space 55’s first PHIL Talk (Phoenix Has Ideas LIVE), a comical parody of TED Talks. In addition, Dr. Carol Poore, chair of PCA’s Arts, Culture, and Public Life Committee, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Arizona Republic about how science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts are all vital to attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in cities and towns throughout our state.
Amanda LaCasse, one of the 106,800 college students who live in Phoenix – and more specifically downtown Phoenix – shared her opinion about growing up and now furthering her education here: “The gems I have grown to love are not hidden – they are plain and simple, out in the open. Anyone can find a spot to feel at home in downtown Phoenix if they spend enough time getting to know the area, and nobody should be afraid of it. It offers the same services as any other part of the city, but with a more authentic attitude and honest, personable interactions with people who love you for who you are.”
About 150 people gathered at ASU School of Art‘s new Grant Street Studios last Tuesday, hosted by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders produced by Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal.
The focus for this month’s gathering was a celebration of both ASU’s new digs in the Warehouse District, and the overall impact of the arts in downtown.
As we all know by now, two major sports events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, will be coming to the Valley in late January and early February. Our favorite city will be flooded with media from around the country visiting Super Bowl Central right here in downtown.
As a community, we want to share the compelling stories that define our downtown spirit with visitors, whether they be from across the country or across the Valley.
So what exactly are the stories we will be telling?
The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are convening committees in preparation for the festivities, and the marketing and media committee is helping identify the many things to do while here in Phoenix.
So, we decided to ask the gathered crowd at RadiatePHX to help identify the art and culture stories that people care about the most. It was a simple, non-scientific poll, but it garnered interesting results.
To simplify the polling, we created six overarching categories: visual art, performing art, literary art, architecture and historic preservation, and public art. In addition, we provided a “write-in” category to capture anything that didn’t quite fit in the those categories. Everyone who attended received tickets to vote in the category of their choice. Participation was brisk and the results were telling.
Visual Art: 48
Architecture/Historic Preservation: 57
Literary Art: 9
Performing Art: 37
Public Art: 61
Public art, along with architecture and historic preservation, were the two categories that came out on top. Again, it was an entirely unscientific poll, but the “public” nature of both of those choices seems to indicate that people are increasingly aware of the value of public spaces in making our city remarkable. Beautiful public spaces to move through, along with a diverse range artistic and cultural events to choose from are clearly points of pride that we all agree deserve to be shared.
The write-in category received a handful of ideas. Some were related to the arts categories above, some were specific events, and some had a temporary or “pop-up” theme. Most of the write-in suggestions resonated with the overall bent toward activated public spaces.
What do you think of the results? If you weren’t able to attend our September RadiatePHX, what categories would you have chosen?
Comment below and join in the effort to build a list of “must experience” arts places and events that will show the world what matters to those of us who live, work and play in downtown.
And be sure to join us in October, and on the third Tuesday of every month, for RadiatePHX.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Join downtown Phoenix business, community, and city leaders for RadiatePHX, a free monthly networking series that connects you to the people, projects, issues, and solutions that are building the downtown we want.
Hosted by Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal, RadiatePHX provides an opportunity to connect with a broad spectrum of downtown advocates, receive key updates from guest speakers on what’s happening in the city core, and learn how you can connect and contribute.
The arts will be spotlighted as a vital element to a vibrant downtown – from theater productions and gallery openings, to concerts and festivals. The arts bring our community to life.
RadiatePHX attendees will find out what’s in store for the 2014/2015 arts season, and together we’ll brainstorm a “Top Things to Do in Phoenix” list to showcase our city to NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl media, and beyond.
What: RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders
When: Tuesday, September 16, 5 to 7 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m.
Where: Grant Street Studios at the ASU Herberger Insititute for Design & the Arts School of Art, 605 E. Grant St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Each month, RadiatePHX will invite you to “connect to the core” at a friendly, informative, networking event that will keep you in the know about downtown.
Who doesn’t love a parade? And one was held in downtown Phoenix on August 27 for the newly-crowned – for the third consecutive year – Arena Bowl Champions, the Arizona Rattlers. Another parade may occur (fingers crossed) if the Phoenix Mercury reign supreme in the WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky. And speaking of hot streaks…
On August 26, hundreds of downtown advocates and supporters attended RadiatePHX at the University of Arizona College of Medicine’s Virginia G. Piper Auditorium. Sponsored by Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal, the RadiatePHX business and community mixer will be held on the third Tuesday of every month at an interesting downtown space with a diverse mix of programming and speakers. “This is exactly what we had envisioned to bring life back into the heart of the city,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. On tap for the September 16 RadiatePHX at ASU’s Step Gallery in the Phoenix Warehouse District are Steven Tepper, new dean of the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Councilwoman Kate Gallego.
On August 27, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Phoenix Parks and Recreation launched Wednesday Wind Up, a weekly lunch time event featuring food trucks, local retail business booths, and outdoor games and activities at Civic Space Park.
On August 28, TEDx Evans Churchill held its second event, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen,” at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center. Seven speakers spoke to a full-house on food related topics. Afterward, everyone sauntered over to FED after TED to “wine and dine” on food and beer pairings from local restaurants.
The Firehouse Gallery’s “Comedy on Fire” open-mic show is one of the most prominent places for local comics to ply their trade. Held monthly since March of 2013, the show has become so popular that out-of-state comics are being booked to perform.
US Airways and merger partner American Airlines will not be renewing their naming rights deal for downtown’s US Airways Center. First it was America West Arena, now US Airways Center. What’s next? We will know by next fall. Despite the name change we expect great things from the Suns this season!
Lux, one of central Phoenix’s most popular coffee and dining spots, will open a second location at First and Portland streets in the Evans Churchill neighborhood. Both an adaptive reuse of an existing structure and adjacent new construction, Jeff Fischer’s Lux Commonwealth and County will sport the same look and feel which has made the original North Central Avenue location so inviting and successful.
Redevelopment plans for two iconic downtown Phoenix buildings made significant progress. The city of Phoenix picked P.B. Bell Cos. and Davis Enterprises to redevelop the 1915 Jefferson Hotel (aka Barrister Building) and adjacent vacant parcels at Central Avenue and Jefferson Street into boutique-style residential and commercial space. In addition, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors agreed to work with developer CSM Lodging on tax incentives to repurpose the 1931 Professional Building at Central Avenue and Monroe Street into a boutique hotel.
For the last eight years Richard Adkins, our city’s forestry supervisor, has labored to keep trees from falling victim to business and neighborhood development, street widenings, and storm damage — all without a single budget line item for replacement trees. Now, with the support of the new Downtown Phoenix, Inc. Tree & Shade Task Force, comprised of a dozen community leaders and city employees (including Richard), new trees will be added and existing trees will be better maintained in and around downtown Phoenix, all in time for Super Bowl XLIX.
The Grand Avenue Members’ Association and Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts are are teaming up to bring even more live music, art, and local businesses to downtown Phoenix at the 6th Annual Grand Avenue Festival.
Only in Downtown
Phoenix Union Bioscience High School in the Evans Churchill neighborhood was named one of the top 30 “Most Amazing High School Campuses in the World” by BestEducationDegrees.com.
At historic Trinity Cathedral in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District, the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale holds open rehearsals for anyone who enjoys listening to great music.
The Duce, a kick-back restaurant, lounge, vintage shop, and boxing gym located in a 1928 brick warehouse at Central Avenue and Lincoln Street, was recently named as one of the 12 most “Unusual American Restaurants” in the U.S.
Congratulations to the board and staff of the Arizona Science Center at Heritage & Science Park for receiving a $246,000 grant by the APS Foundation to continue ASC’s Rural Expansion Project that brings valuable teacher, leader, and community professional development along with student programming to school districts in our rural communities.
As more and more bicycles take to the road (and sidewalks) in downtown Phoenix, the State Press reports that cyclists balance legality and safety under the watchful eyes of police officers on downtown’s busy city streets.
On the first Monday of every month between 4 and 7 p.m., individuals with legal questions can stop by Songbird Coffee and Tea House on E. Roosevelt Street for “Cafe O’Law.” There Phoenix attorney Lora B. Sanders of the Sanders Law Firm provides free legal advice to anyone who drops in to purchase a cafe au lait or other snazzy drink refreshment.
Early September Activities
- 9/11 Week of Service & Remembrance, Valleywide, Sept. 6-14
- WNBA Finals, US Airways Center and UIC Pavilion, Sept. 7-17
- Fridays in the Park, Civic Space Park, Sept. 12
- Arizona Diamondbacks MLB baseball, Chase Field, various dates in Sept.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
I want you to mark your calendar for Tuesday, August 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. It’s the premiere of RadiatePHX, a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders. Hosted by Downtown Phoenix, Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal, RadiatePHX provides a monthly opportunity to connect with a broad spectrum of downtown advocates, receive key updates from guest speakers on what’s happening in the city core, and learn how you can connect and contribute. RSVP here.
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is seeking 5,000 volunteers to help out over a nearly two-week timeframe at various Super Bowl-related events, including Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix. If you have friends, family, or employees interested in helping to showcase our downtown (and I know you do), have them visit the Super Bowl Volunteer webpage.
This Could Be PHX, a website that promotes downtown businesses, launched PHX Coffee Culture last month to emphasize the city’s growing coffee movement, highlighting 13 coffee shops in central Phoenix. The project is a joint effort between Ryan Tempest and Quinn Whissen, co-founders of This Could Be PHX, and Jonathan Carroll, owner of Songbird Coffee & Tea House.
Turning Phoenix Green
According to the Arizona Republic, homes and businesses along light rail routes in Phoenix should save about $13 million a year on electricity bills from new energy-efficiency projects paid for by Energize Phoenix grants under the federal government’s 2009 stimulus program. But an audit released earlier this year showed that energy savings from upgrades, which included better lighting, shade screens, cooling systems, and duct repairs, were lower than predicted.
Progress is being made on the renovation of the 1931 Professional Building at 15 E. Monroe St. in downtown Phoenix. The project, renamed the Monroe Hilton Garden Inn, is now in the city permitting stage.
Several recent studies highlight how Arizonans and Phoenicians are becoming less reliant on a car-centric transportation system:
- Arizonans Driving Like It’s 1994, Streetsblog USA, July 23, 2014
- When Car-Loving Cities Start to Embrace Light Rail, Next City, July 15, 2014
- HUD Sustainable Communities Grantees Take a Healthy Path Toward Urban Development, National Prevention Strategy, July 1, 2014
- Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, Smart Growth America, June 16, 2014
Snell & Wilmer LLP has renewed its lease for approximately 10 years at Arizona Center. A long-standing anchor tenant at the downtown development, Snell & Wilmer is the largest commercial law firm in metro Phoenix.
Buffalo Wild Wings is seeking a new restaurant location in central Phoenix, possibly downtown Phoenix, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
College students and Millennials are driving the local multi-family housing market as younger demographics are pushing new apartment developments in central Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Despite this trend, the Phoenix-area housing market is officially in a slump, according to a new report from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
According to the Wall Street Journal, as Millennials and other urban dwellers have children, their needs are changing. And cities, like Phoenix, want to hold on to them by becoming more “playable,” for both children and adults.
Parking meter changes in downtown Phoenix take effect next week. Hours that drivers have to pay to park are extended to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., including holidays. How much drivers pay will vary depending on what area or “zone” they are located.
AZ + Africa
The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a six-week professional civic leadership training institute for 25 young African leaders, was recently concluded by the ASU College of Public Programs. Listen to Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College, and Al Kags, one of the ASU Fellows, recap the time spent in downtown Phoenix in this KJZZ Radio interview.
A $1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will enable ASU journalism students to produce daily coverage of business and economic issues for regional and national media outlets. The Reynolds Business Reporting Bureau will be located in a state-of-the-art newsroom at the Cronkite School on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, in partnership with Friendly House and the ASU School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, will receive a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant. The funds will be used to create “Story Days,” a two-year series of story-based arts programs and events that explore the connections Phoenix residents have to their communities.
Congratulations to three young downtown advocates who received significant recognition this past month. Kimber Lanning (right), director of Local First Arizona, a small business owner, and member of the Downtown Phoenix, Inc. board of directors, has been named the recipient of the International Economic Development Council’s 2014 Citizen Leadership Award.