DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
AIA PLACEMAKING PANEL – LIVE in the City
The May Placemaking series from AIA Phoenix Metro seeks a wide audience to continue elevating the dialogue on design, architecture and development in our City. Head to the VIG on Fillmore, which was chosen because its location positively contributes to the sense of Placemaking in the Roosevelt District. And stay tuned for sessions over the summer that will focus on the themes of “SHOP, MOVE, WORK, and ENGAGE.”
What: “Live in the City” AIA Phoenix Metro May Chapter Meeting Placemaking Series
Who: Jason Boyer, AIA, artHAUS; Eric Johnson, City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development; Matt Seaman, Metrowest Development; and Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro
Where: The Vig Fillmore, Outdoor patio, 606 N. 4th Ave, Phoenix
When: Thursday, May 21st, 5-8pm; 5-6pm reception and networking; 6-7pm panel; 7-8pm networking
Last year, Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill property owners proposed developing a new Business Improvement District (BID) for their area to the City. In April 2014 the Phoenix City Council approved funding for the group to assess the viability of the opportunity. Read our previous story here.
Following months of work, the group is coming together to host a Community Forum on Thursday, May 28, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Roosevelt Community Church. The Forum will showcase the success of BIDs in other cities, and outline the proposed investment for Roosevelt.
With the help of long-time BID professional Nancy Hormann of Hormann & Associates, the property owners have been working hard to determine a work plan and budget that will both support the arts character of the area and encourage thoughtful economic development to support their collective vision.
“This is a peer-to-peer process,” says Hormann, “Over the last 12 months, through focus groups, surveys, one-on-one meetings, and group workshops, the property owners determined the type and level of services needed to make a difference in their district. This forum is the first time people who are not property owners are being invited to listen to what’s going on.”
The forum will feature an introduction by Dave Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., a panel of three BID professionals sharing stories of the remarkable impact BIDs have had on their respective cities, and representatives from the Roosevelt BID Working Group, who will share the work they’ve done over the last year.
So what exactly is a BID and why is it important? A BID is a public/private mechanism that allows property owners within a defined area to fund district-specific improvements, services and activities through a self-imposed and self-governed property assessment. These assessments provide services that are above and beyond what the city can provide. And they’ve been very successful. Over 1500 BIDs are currently active in cities throughout North America and their success stories are impressive.
Currently, the only existing BID in Phoenix is the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, which covers 90 square blocks of the downtown core.
Dave Krietor articulates what this has meant for Phoenix. “The core BID came from a vision created by the Phoenix Community Alliance back in the late 1980’s. Downtown business leaders saw what was happening in other cities and recognized that creating a BID would be integral to revitalizing our downtown.” He adds, “You only need to look at what’s happened in downtown to see that the core has been reinvented. The BID created a focal point and a center of gravity to revitalize downtown. Now this powerful, effective tool is available for property owners in the Roosevelt/Evans Churchill district to take advantage of to improve and sustain their neighborhood.”
But “seeing is believing” and the BID Community Forum will provide an inspiring vision of what can be accomplished. Three BID professionals will share stories of how their districts have developed and the significant impact they’ve had on their respective cities, including: Jimmy Parker, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter executive director; Elizabeth Studebaker, Midtown Sacramento; and Allison Harnden, a longtime BID professional who has worked with 45 BID Districts nationwide. In addition, Roosevelt/Evans Churchill BID working group representatives including Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC, Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro LLC, and consultant Nancy Hormann will provide a quick overview of the Roosevelt area work plan, budget and assessment, outline next steps, and take questions from the audience.
If you go:
What: BID Community Forum
When: Thursday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Roosevelt Community Church, 924 N. 1st Street, Phoenix
Cost: Free and open to the public.
RSVP: Space is limited. RSVP requested here.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Spirit of the Arts
A Unique Community Project to Beautify Downtown
Phoenix Center for the Arts, in partnership with The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Roosevelt Row CDC, and State Representative Ken Clark, is excited to announce Spirit of the Arts, a fun and creative collaboration to repair and beautify one of the most visible buildings in Downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Center for the Arts. Spirit of the Arts will be held Saturday, August 15, from 6-9pm, at Phoenix Center for the Arts to raise funds for important building repairs in a very creative way.
Local and nationally acclaimed artists from all mediums have been commissioned to convert discarded rum bottles from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar into works of art. These works will then be auctioned at the Spirit of the Arts restoration gala. A portion of the proceeds will go directly towards the improvement of the building.
Over the past year, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar has collected hundreds of these rum bottles, which would have otherwise ended up as trash, to support this endeavor. “These bottles came from rum-producing regions all over the world, says The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Co-Owner, Dwayne Allen. “Each bottle has been carefully considered and crafted to embody the spirit its origin. These bottles have intrinsic value and can serve to inspire and delight just as they did when they were filled with rum. As they collect dust, their labels fade, they crack and chip from neglect. Similarly, the Phoenix Center for the Arts campus, though well-used and well-loved, is cracked, chipped, and faded. It deserves to be ‘dusted off’ and given a chance to shine as our front door to downtown Phoenix.”
Phoenix Center for the Arts is a non-profit operated City of Phoenix facility that borders Margaret T. Hance Park (also known as the Deck Park) on Third Street, just north of Roosevelt. The City acquired the campus – a former Baptist church – in 1975 when construction of Interstate 10 began. Since then, the facility has continued to serve thousands of Valley residents each and every year. The Center has truly blossomed in the past 4 years since “going nonprofit,” having grown by nearly 500% since 2011. Most recently, the buzz behind the new Hance Park Master Plan has increased the Center’s visibility and bolstered community awareness of Phoenix Center for the Arts’ role in shaping our local culture and arts community.
The southbound Third Street corridor has long been considered a major gateway to downtown Phoenix. It offers a magnificent view of the Downtown skyline that ushers motorist and pedestrians into the urban heart of the City of Phoenix, as well as the State of Arizona. One cannot help but notice the historic red brick building, which boasts a majestic staircase and monumental pillars. The mere sight of it conjures memories of downtown Phoenix in its formative years.
“Unfortunately, as it sits today, this great piece of our community’s history is in a state of relative disrepair, says State Representative, Ken Clark. “We are excited to work with community leaders to bring back the building’s original charm in support of arts in Arizona.” The building itself is 84 years old and has served the community as an Arts Center for nearly 40 years. In fact, the Spirit of the Arts event will serve as the first of many Anniversary events.
Joseph Benesh, Director of Phoenix Center for the Arts states: “This is about placemaking and historic preservation. Our objective is to return the Phoenix Center for the Arts facade to a state that accurately represents the value of its history, the importance it holds for our community today, and the potential it will possess in years to come.”
Spirit of the Art tickets cost $75 each and can be purchased by visiting phoenixcenterforthearts.org/spirit
For more information about Phoenix Center for the Arts, visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org or call 602-254-3100.
This fall, ASU will open an ambitious education and community outreach program in the ground floor of the historic Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix. The ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions is leasing 15,000 square feet for 15 years and has some exciting plans for integrating their work into the Westward Ho community and strengthening their ties with downtown.
Dr. Michael S. Shafer, a professor of Social Work and the director of the Center, says they will relocate the faculty, student and staff offices to the Westward Ho and convert the historic Concho Room into the Community Education and Health Center.
“At the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy,” says Prof. Shafer, “we do a lot of continuing education work for all sorts of health and human services professionals – from judges and probation officers to drug counselors and mental health counselors.” He points out that over the nine years that the Center has been affiliated with ASU they’ve had a really hard time hosting these kinds of training events on the Tempe campus. “One of our design imperatives at ASU is ‘the power of the place’ and bringing the community into our space (at the Westward Ho) is part of that transformative experience.”
“The Concho Room will become our dedicated space for hosting community engagement meetings, continuing education trainings and smaller scale conferences and convenings,” says Shafer. “And most exciting,” he adds, “we are creating what we’re calling a supportive services clinic: a student-staffed, faculty-supervised clinic that will initially be restricted only to provide services to the 300 tenants that call the Westward Ho their home.”
The clinic will bring together four disparate academic units, including social work, nursing, recreational therapy, and nutrition and health promotion. They currently have faculty from each of these departments working together on the design for the clinic, which they plan to launch in August. “All four of those disciplines have requirements among their undergrad and grad students for practica and internships, etc. and it’s a very natural leap for ASU to meet the needs of that community,” says Shafer.
A doctoral student under Shafer’s supervision surveyed fifty of the tenants at the Westward Ho to assess their needs. “What we discovered was that, surprisingly, they have pretty good access to healthcare. 80-90% of the tenants surveyed reported that they’d had a scheduled physical exam in the last year, which is a very good marker of healthcare access.” They did find that tenants have a lot of chronic health issues that need attention, but, “more importantly, we discovered these folks were largely, isolated, self-isolated, cut off from community and forgotten.”
Rhode Island-based PAG-CDG has developed and operated the property as a HUD facility since 1979, and according to Shafer, they have done a terrific job in maintaining the building and providing a valuable service. But the HUD funding they receive is tenant-based vouchers, which means strictly vouchers to lease an apartment. They aren’t given any funding to provide supported services on site. Consequently, there is a lot of social disorganization and chaos.
“The most recent data we were able to get from the city police and fire departments indicated that in 2012 they’d had over 600 dispatches to the Westward Ho between them. 600! That’s more than two per day.” He adds, “I’ve worked for over 20 years in this public funded behavioral health space, and so we spend a lot of time around areas of homelessness, criminal justice systems, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. For years we’ve known that this (the Westward Ho) has been a kind of ‘no man’s zone.’ No one has tried to address the issues there.”
Shafer describes a three-fold agenda for the clinic.
“First and foremost we want to create a state-of-the-art, easily accessible training environment for our students. Second, we want to improve the quality of life for the tenants, and third, just like a teaching hospital, the tenants participating in the clinic have the potential, and I emphasize ‘potential,’ to become research subjects to secure federal funding to study how to improve the health and quality of life in the elderly living in place.”
Shafer sums it up this way – “the core of every university is the generation of knowledge that helps to transform community.”
He underscores that “the tenants will be front and center in helping direct the research. The questions and how we address those questions will be directed by the residents and the downtown community.” He ASU team is currently putting together an advisory panel of community leaders to help them effectively engage with downtown.
So what’s the current progress on the renovation of the space and the planned move? “We’re about 60% through on the demolition, so there’s still a lot to do before we go into soft opening and relocation in time for the fall semester.” They will probably wait until October to do any kind of big grand opening, but students, faculty and staff will be in the space when the fall semester begins.
And what about the historic nature of the Concho Room? How much will they preserve? Shafer assures me that they’ve embraced the preservation element. “The Westward Ho is on the national registry and you still have the art deco feel of the room,” he says. “In fact, If you blink twice you can almost see the Rat Pack up on the stage and – that’s going to stay. The basic shell will remain, and for people who were entertained in there – the dance floor will remain.”
It’s worth noting that as a result of ASU’s lease, the owners were successful in securing a supportive housing tax credit, so they are undertaking some pretty major renovations on their own, including replumbing the entire towers. They’ve also extended another 20-year commitment to HUD.
While they are still working out the details of how the clinic will be managed, for the last four or five years undergraduate nursing students have been staffing a clinic in the Westward Ho for one or two days a week. This new, greatly expanded program will incorporate social work, nursing, nutrition and recreational therapy.
“We also look forward to helping the tenant advisory council have some functionality and robustness. With it being managed from Rhode Island, there is a real disconnect there,” says Shafer. “A lot of our work is going to be about asking ‘how do we create a sense of community among you and in support with you?’ Students in social work who are training to become clinicians will have a terrific opportunity to practice and learn their counseling skills.”
The average age of the tenants in the Westward Ho is 59-64. Tenants must meet the HUD criteria, which means they must be homeless or at risk of being homeless, and they must meet a low-income threshold. Shafer adds, “Up to 50% of the tenants have some form of diagnosable mental health condition, chronic disease, diabetes, hypertension, or are mobility impaired.”
The program should bring a tremendous benefit to the tenants and the downtown community. Shafer has also been in conversation with Dean Tepper of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts about the intersection between the arts and recreational therapy. “We’ve had some wonderful conversations about how we might also use the Concho Room as an event space for their students and faculty – perhaps for recitals, exhibitions, etc.”
The new Center will be great for ASU, for the Westward Ho tenants, and for downtown as a whole. It will be exciting to watch the program develop and discover new ways for the Westward Ho to better serve its tenants, be a useful training ground for students, provide potential research opportunities for faculty, and offer continuing education opportunities for social welfare professionals.
In 2011, funding became available from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for cities to do smart growth planning. Phoenix had forward thinking civic leadership, staff, and community partners poised and ready to collaborate and seized the opportunity with a proposal for a bold, transformative program called Reinvent Phoenix. Curt Upton (pictured right) of the City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department was a key leader in the design and creation of this long-term collaborative project with two main goals: create an attractive investment environment in transit-oriented development (TOD) districts along the light rail, and maximize the community benefits from these investments.
Upton points out, “These were very competitive grants. Hundreds of cities applied and only 8% were selected.” Not only that, he adds, “Phoenix was awarded $2.9M, the 4th largest grant in the country.”
At the time of the grant application (2011), Upton contends that Phoenix was still hurting from the recession and “there was a strong feeling that we needed to try something different, to have a time out and think about how to develop our city differently. We’d just invested in a huge light rail project, and we needed to make the most of it.”
Thus was born Reinvent Phoenix. The Planning Department was the lead applicant, but “it was very much a collaborative process,” said Upton. “We needed about eight other city departments to participate in the process – streets, parks, art & culture, public works, etc….and we also had to reach out to community partners.”
They began by asking a bold question, “Can we create and implement a vision that can demonstrate a better Phoenix?….As the light rail expands, through this vision can we create a new model for how we develop our city that includes best practices, walkability, and equity – where everyone benefits?” The vision was “not just a place where wealthy people go, not just a café scene or art scene, but daycare facilities, decent housing and healthcare for the people who work in the cafes and neighborhood businesses.”
“HUD awarded us the grant because of both the ideas in the plan and the partners that were brought into process,” said Upton, who emphasizes that these partnerships are significant not just for the purposes of the grant, but in order to have a long-term impact on the city. “That was the hope,” said Upton, “to bring partners into almost a movement, using civic leadership to create coalition.” From Upton’s perspective, “building these partnerships upfront means that everyone has ownership in the outcome. Everyone is invested in the vision and the road map that creates investment and equity for the long term.”
This collaborative model helps dispel what Upton calls “every planner’s fear….that we’ll spend hours, months, energy and dedication to create a plan that just collects dust on a shelf. No one wants that.”
Reinvent is a transformational program – so it needs to have legs over decades. In order to do that it required upfront civic leadership and community engagement instead of top down planning. Upton says, “It’s much harder to do, but if you put the upfront work in, it pays dividends going forward. It’s important to build broad community ownership, so that many people support the plan over time.”
What are Curt Upton’s thoughts about the long-term impact on the City from the Reinvent Phoenix program? He says, “I hope that it helps position Phoenix to benefit over the next couple of decades. There’s a unique historic occurrence in cities going on right now. Two large demographic groups – millennials and baby boomers are converging on the real estate market and they both want the same things – walkable neighborhoods with amenities close by.”
Regarding baby boomers, Upton notes that “A whole generation will be over 65 in the next two decades. Increasingly they will be looking to get out of the suburbs and find ways to live that aren’t as costly and are easier to navigate if you don’t want to or can’tdrive.”
He adds, “At the same time you have the millennials coming in with a different set of preferences than the previous generation. And it’s not just going to be a fad. This younger generation is looking for a different product than in the past.”
Upton just returned from a conference in Seattle where he heard the phenomenon described by a real estate fund manager described as “planes in the air, looking to land.”
He explains, “Investors want to invest, but they are looking for good places to land. Cities can position themselves for investment by creating the right conditions for investors to land.” He adds, “Reinvent helps Phoenix take advantage of this historical opportunity to make our city better.”
Upton is a Phoenix native and has spent the last nine years with the City Planning and Development Department. Wednesday, April 29, was his last day, however, as he has been lured to a new job in planning in Denver.
“Denver is similar to Phoenix, but a little ahead of us. It’s an opportunity. I’m a Phoenix native and have lived here my whole life, but I respect the work they are doing in Denver and it is a chance to learn stuff.”
“Nine years ago I took the job with the city for the opportunity to do important work.” In reflecting back, he is grateful for the entrepreneurial, hands off management in the department that empowered him and his staff to do just that.