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.”
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On September 27 Roosevelt Row will ignite the Fall season by presenting some of the BEST local chefs who will highlight the MOST delicious chile pepper cuisine in Phoenix. Onsite chile roasting with Crooked Sky Farms, live music with Pick and Holler and Mariachi De Luna De Mexico, the Ghost Pepper Talent Show hosted by Lawn Gnome Publishing & Bragg’s Factory Diner and (of course) a Deschutes craft beer garden AND a 3 Amigos Tequila margarita station with gourmet chile-pepper margaritas!
2014 CHILE PEPPER FESTIVAL
Admission is FREE!
Tasting Tickets – $2
Beer & Margarita Tokens – $5
Discounted ticket bundles are available on the website.
Click here to BUY YOUR TASTING TICKETS ONLINE.
Location: Phoenix Public Market, 721 N Central
Date / Time: Saturday, Sept. 27 / 5-11pm
2014 COMPETING CHILE PEPPER CHALLENGE TEAMS:
Aside of Heart
AZ Food Crafters
Jamburritos Cajun Grille Express
Jobot Coffee & Diner
Mamma Toledo’s The Pie Hole
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Short Leash Hot Dogs / Rollover Doughnuts
Squid Ink Sushi
The Refuge Cafe
Urban Beans/Tertio Wine Bar
Welcome Diner / Welcome Chicken and Donuts
Lulu’s Italian Ice
>> KID’S ACTIVITIES: The Phoenix Center for the Arts, the Heard Museum and Valley Permaculture Alliance are preparing chile pepper craft activities and we’ll have face painting as well!
>> CHILE PEPPER ROASTING: Crooked Sky Farms will be roasting a dozen different varieties of chile peppers to eat fresh off the roaster or to take home!
>> CHEF DEMONSTRATIONS: Enjoy five local chefs as they offer a live-demonstration of hand-crafted chile pepper eats and/or drinks.
>> LIVE MUSIC: Pick and Holler + Mariachi Luna De Mexico
>> GHOST PEPPER TALENT SHOW: Hosted by Lawn Gnome Publishing’s Aaron Hopkins-Johnson and Bragg’s Factory Diner’s Liam Murtaugh, The GHOST PEPPER TALENT SHOW will bring the weird, the camp, and the heat to the Annual Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival stage! Bellydancing vs. Storytelling vs. Standup Comedy vs. Mariachi vs. Beatboxing vs. Barbershop Quartet vs. Slam Poetry.
>> SALSA DANCING LESSONS: Learn how to salsa dance at this year’s Chile Pepper Festival with Stilo Dance Co. Free community dancing lessons will be followed by open dance and a performance by Stilo dancers.
>> TRANSPORTATION & PARKING OPTIONS: Valley Metro Light Rail: Guests are encouraged to ride the light rail, walk or bike to the event.
UBER Car Service: Uber seamlessly connects you to drivers through a push of a button on your phone. $30 off for first-time Uber riders to the Chile Pepper Festival. Promo code: “ROROCHILEFEST”. Sign up!
Bike Parking: Free bike valet will be provided by Valley Metro.
Parking: On-street parking and onsite lot parking available, but we encourage guests to ride the light rail or bicycle to the event!
Want to volunteer? Sign up here!
The education and performance venue, named after Phoenix-born jazz drummer Lewis Nash, is owned and operated by the non-profit Jazz in Arizona, familiarly known as Jazz in AZ. Board vice president Jeff Libman became involved with the organization as soon as he learned about plans for The Nash.
“The places I lived before are Chicago and New York City and then here,” says Libman, “and this place needed a jazz club — and bad.” He points out the wide range of musical experiences available at The Nash. “If this is going to be the one jazz club in Phoenix, we want everybody to have something they can appreciate here.” Libman adds, “And then, of course, we want to reach the people who said, ‘Hey, I had no idea that I like jazz…but I like this, and I discovered it here.’”
The Nash offers concerts through the summer on Friday and Saturday nights on the Contemporary and Mainstream Jazz series, as well as the occasional special event. Says Libman, “We wanted to say, ‘we’re open to different interpretations of jazz,’ because this ‘what is jazz?’ conversation is still going on in very interesting ways.”
He continues, “There does need to be some kind of boundary…we have a mission. This was supposed to be a jazz oasis in the desert…so one of the questions I ask about something that’s on the border is ‘Is this jazz-inspired? Does it have improvisation? Does it have swing? Are some of the musicians…jazz musicians who sometimes do other things, and this is their different side project?’” Libman smiles. “I think we get into trouble as an organization if we get too snooty or too particular about what [jazz] is.”
At Arizona State University Libman teaches jazz guitar and Jazz Lab, directs the Jazz Repertory Band, and coaches combos. He’ll complete his PhD this fall while maintaining an active performance schedule, playing on his own and in a contemporary jazz group called Running From Bears and regularly hosting jam sessions at The Nash.
The venue includes three back rooms for break-out sessions and workshops, as well as a recording booth. A tiny lobby leads into the open seating and stage area, where a curtain serves as the simple backdrop. The Nash’s gallery-lit walls carry themed art installations rotating every few months, and the sounds of downtown are faintly audible.
In its default table-seating configuration, The Nash holds 75, although without tables it can hold an audience of 120, allowing some groups to play without amplification. “If your jazz club gets too big it starts to feel like a concert hall; it’s not as intimate any more. So there’s a sweet spot of size,” says Libman. Without an elevated stage, the piano can be easily moved and the audience enjoys close proximity to the performers. “One of the reasons is sometimes we have a big band in here,” Libman adds, “and sometimes we have a big big band in here, and there’s somebody in the audience sitting here” — he pulls forward a chair in the front row– “and there’s a baritone sax player sitting here” — he gestures a few feet away. “So this allows us the flexibility.”
“If you want this visceral thing about being there and feeling connected with it more than perfect sight-lines, then this is the kind of room for you,” says Libman. “And I like that. There are trade-offs with everything.”
The Nash offers year-round private and group lessons, jam sessions every Saturday, and a wealth of affordable educational opportunities including workshops for all skill levels and instruments. Recent multi-week workshops featured “Singing Standards” — learning repertoire from the Great American Songbook — and “Playing on Changes,” a four-week introduction to improvising over chord changes.
Saxophonist Adam Roberts teaches “Electronics for Horn Players” on August 2 and the notation software workshop “Finale for Jazz Musicians” on August 9. Not every participant needs to be a performer; Libman himself led an “exposure” session on music history, appreciation, and listening.
The Nash’s 200 performances each year include the Catch a Rising Star series, which presents talented young artists and sometimes helps launch careers. First Fridays mean special free shows. “To be on the street is very powerful,” says Libman, “because this is a burgeoning arts district — we have 1500 people come in and out of the door on a First Friday.”
Libman particularly appreciates The Nash’s attraction for young listeners. “[It’s] one of the few places that I can think of where people who are under 21 years old are like, ‘We’re gonna go to jazz shows regularly.’”
The venue often welcomes all ages, but also holds a BYOB certificate, which allows patrons to bring a limited amount of alcohol for a small corkage fee, an arrangement which may change next year. “But we won’t do anything that makes it so you can’t be under 21 and come here on a regular bases,” Libman assures me. “There are some compromises we’re unwilling to make.”
“We feel like this whole artistic energy in Phoenix is starting to coalesce and grow,” he says, “and we just want to get in and be a part of that.”
If you go:
Visit: The Nash
Address: 110 E. Roosevelt St.
For more: thenash.org – 602-795-0464
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Roosevelt Row CDC Receives Significant 2014 ArtPlace Grant for Creative Placemaking
An innovative new model for affordable artist live/work spaces will be coming soon to Roosevelt Row thanks to ArtPlace America. Today, ArtPlace announced Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC) as one of 55 national grantees to receive significant funding to support the nationally-recognized artists’ district. Roosevelt Row CDC will receive $90,000 to support a creative placemaking shipping container pilot project, addressing the ongoing need for permanent affordable housing for artists in downtown Phoenix.
“Thanks to ArtPlace, we are once again demonstrating the huge impact that an artist-driven district can have in fostering a healthy, vibrant downtown community,” said Vermon Pierre, Board President of Roosevelt Row CDC. “This project is exactly what Phoenix needs to further support the critical role of artists in our urban core.”
The shipping container pilot project is one step towards a broader portfolio to make Phoenix a more artist-friendly community. The project will consist of renovated and refurbished containers, providing permanent creative spaces where downtown artists can create and exhibit their work to the community while also providing an affordable place to call home in the heart of Roosevelt Row. The containers will also offer street-level activation through storefront gallery spaces. This project supports Roosevelt Row CDC’s mission to create a livable, walkable vibrant arts community through collaborative and creative efforts that encourage sustainable growth and innovation for future development.
“Investing in and supporting the arts has a profound impact on the social, physical, and economic futures of communities,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”
The pilot project will be located in the downtown community along Roosevelt Street as an example of what is possible for future development in the arts community. In addition to building the pilot project, the goals of the effort include making shipping containers, or “cargotecture” more accessible by establishing “open source” plans.
“We’re tremendously excited to take this effort utilizing shipping containers for creative placemaking to the next level, in partnership with the City of Phoenix and other collaborators,” said Greg Esser, artist and co-founder of Roosevelt Row CDC.
Photos courtesy of Roosevelt Row showcasing the Hot Box Gallery opening, grant-funded from their first ArtPlace award.
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Local First AZ to Celebrate Independents Week June 29 – July 6 with Events, Discounts, Contests, and More
In recognition of National Independents Week, Local First Arizona (LFA) will honor locally owned and independent businesses across the state from Sunday, June 29, through Sunday, July 6. The nationwide Independents Week campaign, coordinated by the American Independent Business Alliance and also known as “Indie Week,” takes place during the week of Independence Day with the purpose of enlightening consumers to the importance of supporting local businesses.
This year, Local First Arizona is hosting a series of events in the Phoenix Area to celebrate Independents Week. The first event was Phoenix Independents Bowl on Sunday, June 22, at Let It Roll Bowl and Entertainment at 8925 N 12th St, in Phoenix. This bowling tournament brought together local bands, independent businesses and fans of Arizona’s local scene in a battle to determine the best bowlers in Phoenix.
On Wednesday, July 2, Local First Arizona is hosting a special Downtown Dinner with Pizza People Pub and the Phoenix Art Museum. The event starts at Pizza People Pub, where attendees will sample delicious food. Attendees will get to meet the owners and hear from special guest Phill Weddle, one of the architects behind the Hance Park redevelopment efforts. Next, attendees will head to the Phoenix Art Museum for a special tour of the Hollywood Costume Exhibit, featuring over 100 costumes from Hollywood films over the past century. Cost to attend is $20 per person, which includes food at Pizza People Pub and entry to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Registration is open to the first 100 people.
Local First Arizona will also be holding their second annual Indie Week Pub Crawl on Thursday, July 3. Attendees will be visiting locally owned pubs around Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. Pub crawlers will visit several bars where they’ll enjoy drink specials and local trivia for fun prizes. More details to come on the LFA website and Facebook page.
Modified Arts’ upcoming gallery show will feature local artists Douglas Towne, Jeremy Rowe, and James Angel, who will be displaying works related to the history of Phoenix and Phoenix’s local business community. The show can be viewed during July’s First Friday on Friday, July 4, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The gallery show opens on Friday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m.
In addition to these events, there are other ways to participate in Independents Week and celebrate local businesses, including the return of the Golden Coupon (good for 20% off at participating Local First member businesses), contests, and more. Individuals are encouraged to check http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ for updates as they are made available.