Whether or not you have met Sean Sweat face to face, chances are you’ve seen him devoting his time to various Downtown-related causes, working seemingly around the clock — by his own will, not that of an organization — to spread awareness to his Downtown Phoenix neighbors.

Sweat was one of the main voices against the demolition of the now-rubbled Sahara just south of Taylor Street between 1st and 2nd streets, and he’s still championing an alternative to the Sheraton Hotel parking lot proposed to take over the land: a Downtown dog park. Sweat weighs in:

“People are moving to Downtown Phoenix more than you might expect, but they aren’t doing it to see more asphalt parking lots,” he says. “They’re doing it under the expectation and written promise from the City Council (Downtown Phoenix Plan, 2008) that the residential vibrancy is a focus and a goal. Another 90,000-square-foot asphalt parking lot in a downtown that has 14,000 excess parking spaces violates the public’s trust in the City’s intentions and urban planning competence. With over 800 dog owners within walking distance of this site, many which have made the lifestyle choice to be car-free, we are owed a centralized and walkable dog park instead of a private Sheraton Hotel parking lot.”

A rendering of the Downtown dog park

A hearing for the matter has been scheduled for noon on Thursday, November 4 at the Phoenix City Council Chambers. Up until that point, Sweat will be collecting signatures of residents that support the dog park plan. Follow Sweat on Twitter to see where he’ll be taking his petition next.

Number of parking spots within a 1/4-mile radius of the Sheraton Hotel. Map by Sean Sweat.

Residents within a 1/2-mile radius of the proposed dog park. Map by Sean Sweat.

If You Go: Downtown Dog Park Hearing (aka “Love Dogs, Not Cars”)

Thursday, November 4, noon
Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St. (light rail at Central/Washington or 1st Ave/Jefferson)
Find more information and RSVP on Facebook


  • Lars

    The plans look great! This would be a great use of the space and hopefully the city council could see the benefit to both the local population and the Downtown Sheraton. If this space doesn’t work I love to see it located somewhere around the vacant lots around Roosevelt. That said I wish I could show my support on November 4th.

    I’m also curious, what is the current status on the ASU Law school in Downtown Phoenix.

  • Hmmm…. I don’t think this is the best site for a dog park… I have always thought the east end of Hance Park would make an excellent dog park, it could be open in about 48 hours, and could be utilized immediately instead of sometime in 2012…. Plus the additional people at Hance would mean reduced security issues. If the above park goes through, someone still has to secure it, monitor it, water it, maintain it. Save the money, go to Hance, and be open immediately, while actually reducing costs…

    While we’re at it, I’m pretty shocked that Phoenix didn’t choose to have a rooftop green park on top of CityScape… what a complete waste of square footage! It would have been such a fantastic idea, and an incentive for people to bring their food from the restaurants below to the park above. In order for CityScape to *thrive* after 1:30pm each day, someone needs to build about 20,000 new rental housing units ASAP or it’s going to go the way of Arizona Center, Mercado, etc. Hate to say it.

    One of the biggest mistakes the city made was to put a parking garage immediately north of the ballpark, south of the ballpark, east of the ballpark, and between the ballpark and us airways arena. The goal to making an area successful is to make people walk a while between the venue and the parking!!!! Urban Planning 101…. the area between the venue and the escape from the area (transit station, parking lot, garage, etc) has what we call a high pedestrian traffic count… but if this distance is virtually ZERO feet instead of 1/2 a mile, you’ve royally screwed all of your redevelopment efforts. Oh well… so sad…. especially for those who are currently investing in downtown with the hopes that their new business is going to cash flow after 1:30pm… there’s just no way it will, not until you get the housing and the residents… we could start with 20-30 present day (or recent past) examples of this…. go ahead, name your city.

  • If the dog park were to go into Hance then it would most likely be on the west side. But even so, a dog park at Hance would be a valid location for a 2nd dog park, but cannot stand on its own. It fails to serve even half of the downtown residents – many of which are car-free.

    For example, the Orpheum, Monroe44, Summit, Artisan Parkview, Rennaisance Park, and even Alta Lofts residents would not frequent a dog park at Hance even half as frequently as they would the former Ramada location.

    On the contrary to your assumption, the dog park at the former Ramada site could open LOOONG before 2012. All you do is install a water fountain, slap up a fence, and throw out some grass. Done.

    The Hance Park location would also fail to activate particular pedestrian corridors in downtown that currently host a slew of struggling small businesses. A dog park at the former Ramada location, however, would electrify 1st St and other nearby streets, breathing new life into some excellent businesses that need our support.

    I have done numerous analyses and thought many hours about this. The former Ramada location is truly the best one, and would completely alter the feel of our downtown for the better.

  • Lars: ASU has no plans to put the Law School in downtown. That is the City’s hope – not ASU’s plan.

  • Not trying to start a flame war… 😉 This is great open dialogue…

    As a downtown resident since March 2nd 1991 and a dog owner, I have seen a LOT of people walking their dogs in the vicinity of Hance Park but rarely (if ever) see a single person with a dog south of Fillmore. Keep in mind that many newer buildings do not allow dogs (and older ones – Regency House, Executive Towers… 44 Monroe included I believe) at all. Also, Roosevelt Square apartments alone has more people living in it (about 1300 people) than every downtown high-rise *combined*, and it’s pet-friendly. There’s the Embassy condos (another 175 people) and the multitude of newer/older apartment buildings in the area near Hance Park. I don’t think the official downtown zone has any current plans for *any* additional rental or owner-occupied housing units, and most likely won’t realize any new dwellings for 7-10 years. I haven’t even heard of anything being on the drawing board.

    As far as the dog park going on the west end of Hance park, it doesn’t make sense, as prevailing winds would carry the smells across central avenue and the entire park, and any dog park noise would not be tolerated at the Japanese Friendship Gardens, which is supposed to be a peaceful, relaxing, tranquil place. Plus, it’s the east end that needs more foot traffic to keep the seedy element out. I live closer to the west end of the park, it’d make more sense for me… I just don’t think it makes nearly as much sense logistically. Ah, the west end also has a much larger open space that could be retained for festivals throughout the year.

    Thanks/Ben

  • I’m just saying what I’ve heard from ppl (that they want the west side)
    Roosevelt Sq has 410 units. You need 3.2 people per unit to get to 1300 ppl. That seems high to me.

    Alta has 330 units, Orpheum nearly 100, Renaissance Park 170 – why exclude these people? Hance (particularly the westside) is too far for them.

    And the Hance Park option also leaves all the businesses on 1st Street high-and-dry. and doesn’t fix our inactive pedestrian landscape. Ben, you just made the point that if you put things in people’s backyards, you are ruining the pedestrian potential (stadiums/parkinggarages). That’s what Hance Park would do for Roosevelt Square, Embassy, & Artisan Village – while serving virtually no one else in downtown.

    A good downtown has standalone micro-parks. That’s what the Ramada lot could be. There is no good reason why this “temporary use” until the law school gets “built” couldn’t be a micro-park. It’s time for us to stop thinking in the ways that created this mess of Phoenix, and start thinking in new ways that will fix our problems.

  • i just called – Monroe44 is dog-friendly.