Low-cost ideas, including the construction of planter boxes, to transform vacant lots in downtown Phoenix for temporary use until their development, will be presented at 11 a.m. Dec. 8 on the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus.
The multimedia presentation of research models was developed by university students in an urban design practice class taught by Nan Ellin, an associate professor and director of the planning program in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She also is an affiliate faculty member with ASU’s School of Sustainability.
“In 2000, the Phoenix metropolitan area contained 42.6 percent vacant land, significantly higher than most American cities,” said Pei Zhai, a doctoral student in sustainability.
“To address this vexing challenge, the office of the mayor requested that ASU students develop a model for the temporary use of publicly-owned vacant lots,” explained Ellin.
“In response, students developed the Desert TULIP – Temporary Urban Laboratory Infill Project – a low-cost strategy to transform vacant lots until their development,” Ellin said.
The students were asked to focus specifically on lots south of Garfield between 3rd and 6th Streets, an area designated to become part of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.
Undergraduate and graduate students, of various backgrounds and majors, searched worldwide for city vacant lot strategies, Ellin said.
“In Phoenix, they spoke with citizens, community organizations, local businesses and city officials for input on the project. High-resolution 3-D models of Phoenix were employed to envision Desert TULIP projects; and a collaborative project constructing planter boxes was undertaken as a first step toward turning Phoenix’s vacant lots into urban amenities,” Ellin said.
The multimedia presentation with results from the class research, including the introduction of the demonstration planter box project, will be followed by a panel discussion that includes representatives from the city of Phoenix, the Phoenix Community Alliance, and Roosevelt Row. The presentation is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon in the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, located on the 8th floor of the Security Building, southwest corner of Van Buren Street and Central Avenue.
For more information about Desert TULIP, contact Ellin at email@example.com, 480-965-6160.
To much chatter, Downtown’s new Urban Grocery and Wine Bar is set to open its door in less than a month. A physical, indoor complement to the popular biweekly Phoenix Public Market, the first full-service grocery store to exist Downtown in nearly three decades arrives with added trimmings.
One such primo accompaniment to debut inside the new grocery shop will be urbane coffee outpost Royal at the Market. Existing in a connected space, sequestered near the rear of the building, the small, clean, sharply designed nook shares pedigree with Royal Coffee Bar, the equally slick Downtown coffee pioneer at 2nd Avenue and Jackson Street.
The inertia behind Royal at the Market breaks down to Hayes McNeil and Christoph Kaiser, co-owners and principals of hip local architecture firm Plus Minus Studio. Though Kaiser is newer to the Royal fold, McNeil provides the link to the original outpost on Jackson St., co-owning that as well, with his brother-in-law Vince Huizar.
Known affectionately by Kaiser as the “coffee aficionado,” McNeil’s knowledge and expertise in what ultimately translates into an incredible cup of java is a primary reason for the original Royal’s success since opening a few years back.
“This will be a handmade space,” McNeil asserts, referring to Royal at the Market. “We roast all of our own coffee. Each cup is individually made using lever-pulled machines — you can’t just press a button and be done with it.”
At the new shop — registering in at a confined size of just under 200 square feet — Royal loyalists can expect the same distinctly sourced, self-roasted beans; cups all made to order; and varying selections of homemade baked goods prepared daily with equal dedication.
Design wise, “handmade” presents itself in varied examples. First and foremost, there is the choice of wood used throughout. The flooring, the countertops, the shelving, the giant floor-to-ceiling sliding door used for expanding and contracting available customer seating space as needed — all of it made from wood originating from the flooring of old truck trailers dating back to the 1930s. “We thought it fitting, with the market and everything,” McNeil winks, alluding to the fact that the trucks in question were specifically used to transport produce and other agriculturally sourced cargo. Each and every plank of recycled wood was retreated and reconfigured to conform to its new digs.
Another eclectic, high-brow design element exists with the lighting. Hanging above the main serving counter, a trio of black fixtures hold vintage (read: non-reproduction) Edison-era light bulbs — design touches also dating back to the early part of the last century. It is this continued juxtaposition between the “handmade” and new, modern and rustic, that permeates the space’s aesthetic.
Royal at the Market initially intends to be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from early morning until 8 p.m. For customers visiting during the adjoining Urban Grocery’s off-hours, a separate side entrance exists along the building’s western façade.
Optimistic, both McNeil and Kaiser confirm an official debut for the new coffee shop sometime within the next two weeks. It’s an opening planned to be individual of — and before — the upcoming Urban Grocery’s unveiling later in October.
All photos by Justin Lee
On Thursday, August 20, I attended the monthly Get Your Phx (Fix) event at After Hours Creative. Get Your Phx is a monthly gathering of approximately 40 urban enthusiasts who meet at various studios, restaurants and galleries in and around Downtown Phoenix. According to organizer Ken Clark, the goal of Get Your Phx is to support the people and projects that have “taken a risk” in Central Phoenix.
After Hours Creative definitely fits the bill of a project that has taken a risk in Central Phoenix. The mixed-use building is the fulfillment of a dream for owners Mike Oleskow and Russ Haan. Not only is the 7,400-sq.-ft. building home to their business venture, After Hours Creative, and their gallery, After Hours Gallery, but also their incredible 1,100-sq.-ft. condo overlooking Central Avenue — all on a quarter-acre single-family lot bordering the Willo historical neighborhood. Mike and Russ wanted a building that would not only meet their needs today, but also the needs of owners 50 years down the road. So, while the building’s current configuration hosts an art gallery, graphic design studio, private office and condo, it is designed in such a way that one could easily imagine the building hosting a restaurant, law office, clothing store, tattoo parlor or more living spaces in future iterations.
During the course of the evening, architect Scott Roeder, the project manager that turned Russ and Mike’s dream into a reality, showed guests around the building. The primary goal of the project was to maximize the floor area of the property while conforming to the commercial zoning restrictions of two stories. To manage this, Scott studied the ins and outs of the city ordinances and determined that while technically limited to two stories, buildings can have mezzanine levels as well as basements. As a result, he and his team were able to design four levels of living, work and storage space all within the official two-story limit. The building’s close proximity to the Central Avenue light rail line allows it to take advantage of the transit overlay district provisions regarding parking and lot coverage. However, the project did not receive any of the tax incentives or subsidies that major developments elsewhere in the city, such as CityScape or CityNorth, have enjoyed.
Everyone I spoke to was in awe of the building and what Russ, Mike and Scott and his team have achieved. They all agreed that Phoenix, especially Downtown Phoenix, needs more of this type of space to flourish as a dynamic hub for the region. Alas, this is the only example of a small-scale, multi-use infill development around. Jim McPherson, Vice President of the Arizona Heritage Foundation and member of the Downtown Voices Coalition, would like to change this. During the event, he talked about the need to support this type of development throughout Downtown and called on City Hall to initiate an urban infill task force to investigate ways to encourage these projects in the Downtown core.
If you haven’t been to the After Hours building yet, put it on your “must-see” list. The gallery is open weekdays from 10-5, as well as First Fridays.
The building, including the condo, is also available to rent for private engagements, and is located at 116 W. McDowell Rd. See www.afterhoursgallery.com for more information, or contact After Hours Creative at www.ahcreative.com to schedule a visit.