New housing options are set to arrive in Downtown Phoenix by way of South America.
Chilean-based development firm Sencorp is bringing their less-is-more design ethos to the valley, developing an empty lot on 2nd and Moreland Streets into a condominium complex, cheekily named en Hance Park.
After arriving in Phoenix in 2006, the team immediately recognized the growth potential of the downtown area, according to developer Alvaro Sande. For the last 50 years, they’ve been creating living spaces in Chile and beyond, and specialize in efficient design, turning small units into liveable homes.
“In my country,” Sande said, “we sell units that are around 700 square feet with three bedrooms. We love designing small areas, and we love to make smaller areas feel bigger.”
In bringing that experience to Phoenix, the layouts at en Hance Park will maximize the team’s goal for smaller, more affordable spaces while incorporating high-end design features.
“We had to make smaller units, and that’s how we bring the price down but we keep the quality. We like modern amenities, we like wood finishes, we like good design, but in a smaller setting. Therefore we allow people to afford a unit,” he said.
The firm has purchased 80% of the block, and plans to build more condominiums once the first phase is complete. The initial building will reach 5 stories, and include a handful of floor plans, ranging from studios, to ground floor units with private courtyards.
Looking out at Margaret T. Hance Park, which is set to undergo welcome renovations, and just a block away from Roosevelt Row, it’s no surprise the project has stirred a fair amount of interest in the community. While they are currently taking reservations, they will not begin formal sales until construction has begun.
Photos courtesy of en Hance Park
On October 26, 2014, Christine Mackay started as the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Phoenix. It’s a big job overseeing several large divisions. She served in the same role for the City of Chandler for six years, but a city the size and complexity of Phoenix is a whole new challenge. We sat down with her to discuss her first ten months on the job and to learn what’s next.
DPJ: How do you see your role within the City of Phoenix?
CM: My role is to recruit companies and recruit the workforce that attracts those companies. My job is to help create the quality real estate that they want, a workforce that they want, an educational system that they want, and then they can’t say no.
For me, first it’s been about cataloging all of the assets that exist and really understanding those assets. I grew up here, I’ve been here my whole life, but I only came into Phoenix to go to GPEC meetings or a basketball game and then I went back to my suburb. No joke.
Two weeks before I got the call from Paul Blue asking me to coffee, my city council in Chandler was interested in looking at adaptive reuse on some of the old buildings in Chandler. Phoenix had done such a brilliant job with their adaptive reuse that we took a bus tour to see what had been done. I got to see Angels Trumpet, the Vig, Cibo, the Duce, and Luci’s Market. I got to see all this stuff and I went, ‘I’ve lived here my whole life, how did I not know this was here?’
Now, all I can think about is Phoenix. It’s a dynamic, exciting, cool market, and it just needed help telling its story. So many people are beginning to understand and tell the story: brokers, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, etc. and doing a remarkable job. It’s become much more than just a local story, it’s getting national play and national attention.
DPJ: What is your approach and what steps have you taken so far?
CM: My approach is to ‘take no prisoners.’ This is a big, bold, vibrant city and it needs to take big, bold, vibrant steps. This is the sixth largest city in the country and it wasn’t competing as the sixth largest city in the country. So, in the beginning it was about getting a marketing plan done, getting our website done, and getting our strategy set.
This isn’t a ‘fire, ready, aim’ situation, this is very strategic. We got our website done so that it was more attractive to site selectors, corporate real estate executives, thought leaders, and decision makers. We also made it very attractive to that knowledge workforce that wants to find a new place to live.
DPJ: Tell us a little more about that knowledge workforce and what’s attracting these people to Phoenix.
CM: I represent all 517 square miles of Phoenix, but the central city is our unique environment, it is the heart of metropolitan Phoenix. When you look at the way things are going, where a workforce wants to live, where a workforce wants to be, where they want to evolve – it’s in an urban environment. The days of a large house with a pool and a backyard in a suburban market are few and numbered. People want to connect in lifestyle. They’re tired of spending their weekends taking care of their yard and their house. The central city offers an incredibly vibrant lifestyle that the suburbs can’t duplicate.
DPJ: How do you see the connection between Downtown and other parts of the central city, for example, Midtown?
CM: Let’s look at Midtown. When I started, the commercial vacancy rate in Midtown was 38% and now it’s 23%. It’s a nine million square foot market, so that means we’ve brought in 1.3 million square feet of tenants in just 10 months. By the end of the year we will be into the teens.
Midtown has been a kind of ‘red-headed stepchild’ of the central city. Downtown has sports, the central government, CityScape, the Orpheum, etc., but no one had really cataloged the assets in Midtown. It’s just as unique as Downtown, and just as cool as Downtown. Where Downtown is hip, vibrant, cutting edge, thought-leading, sports-minded and fun, Midtown is just a little bit more sophisticated. It’s arts, culture – the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Opera. The two areas complement each other incredibly well.
DPJ: What are the city’s plans for Midtown this next year?
CM: We have money in the city’s CIP (Capital Improvement Program) budget for 2015-16 for Midtown to really engage and connect with Central Avenue, and with the 3rd Street Promenade. Currently the buildings along Central, which were mainly built in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, turn their back on Central, but that’s not the way buildings succeed today.
The city is looking for ways to make those connections, including public sidewalks that go right up to the entrances of the buildings; crosswalks in mid-blocks so people don’t have to go all the way down to the next light to cross to the other side; small landing places with shade; and comfortable seating spaces. For the 3rd Street Promenade, which is anchored by Steele Indian School Park on the north, we’re focused on creating shade and trees and making it both walkable and bikeable.
DPJ: What about the northern end of Midtown and into Uptown. How would you describe what is happening there? Where do you see the boundaries?
CM: Any developer would say Midtown goes between the 7s from McDowell to Camelback. So to me, Midtown stops at Camelback and then Uptown starts on the north side of Camelback. When you go into Uptown, you go into a much more suburban market that includes single story houses, and ranch houses with big lots and mature trees.
But look at the area around the Camelback and Central intersection, with all the activity that’s going on there today, like Vintage Properties (Uptown Plaza), the Newton, the BMO building. There’s just so much.
The city owns a little strip of land in that area near the light rail station, on the western side of the empty triangle parcel at the southwest corner of Camelback and Central. We’re going to put out an RFP to dispose of it. Starting in July and August we’re going to hold neighborhood meetings in that area to let everyone know what will be happening on that site.
In addition, the developer who owns the southwest corner is looking at some new development plans for there. The neighborhood had some opposition to what he’d wanted to do before, so he’s really scaled it back to make it more palatable, but the neighborhood will need to have their input, so we’ll see what they say.
DPJ: We’ve heard that there is a comprehensive parking concept being developed. Can you tell us about this?
CM: When I got here the thing I kept hearing from the brokers and the building owners was that they couldn’t bring companies down here because they couldn’t park them. These buildings used to have 300-500 square feet per person and park at two to three per thousand. But, today, even the financial institutions only have 170 square feet per person in their new model and you’ve got to be able to get five to seven per thousand in your parking to make it work. And, until the central city is the favored darling of urban development, we’re still competing with places like Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Austin, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Places where they can surface park for free.
We have a lot of vacant space – 2.6 million square fee. of vacant space between Midtown and Downtown. And we don’t want to just fill the buildings, we want to bring the right companies with the right work force. To attract these companies we need temporary solutions until public transportation becomes more common place. We’re getting closer and closer to that, but in the interim we have to provide places for these people to park within four minutes of their building or the companies won’t look at you.
We decided to catalog all of the parking in Downtown and Midtown: everything from Buckeye to Camelback and between the 7s. Now, when a building owner calls and says ‘I can do this lease but I need 200 parking spaces for five years,’ I can say ‘here’s six places within a four minute walk where you can buy parking and here’s who you can call.’ And they do.
We’ve now done six transactions where we’ve helped people find parking. We’re going to the city council in September to ask permission to post private transaction information on a public website. Then we will be able to post all of the contacts for all of the buildings, along with rings around the buildings to show a four minute walking distance, and information on who to contact to lease parking in those areas.
Over time we won’t need as much parking, because people will get so used to mass transit that it will do what it is intended to do. But, we’re not there yet because we don’t have all the mass transit connections. As time goes on and we finish making those connections, everyone, or at least a great proportion of people, will move around by mass transit.
DPJ: Are you taking a similar approach to parking in the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill area?
CM: In Roosevelt Row for certain….I’m working with Councilman Nowakowski to identify some city-owned sites where we can get some parking up for the next three-to-five-year term while we figure out a structure and what needs to go there. Businesses will die if we don’t get them some parking by end of summer; it’s a ‘now’ priority.
DPJ: What are the main challenges/opportunities you see coming next?
CM: More parking is the challenge that we need to overcome first. It will be a game-changer. Then, I believe what you’ll see next is downtown pushing to the south. When you look at the Warehouse District…that’s the next cool, hip place. The development of the Warehouse District is going to be amazing. Absolutely amazing.
DPJ: Any final thoughts about your first ten months on the job?
CM: I am so excited. There’s so much opportunity. The city has done an amazing job since 2007-2008 in driving downtown development, but the vibrancy of downtown really changed with the Super Bowl. Our own citizens in metro Phoenix got on light rail to come downtown for the Super Bowl events and figured out how cool that part of town is.
So, that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 10 months: setting the stage for what we want to accomplish and putting the tools in our tool belt to say ‘now we’re ready, let’s go!’
For the past year, Phoenix residents have provided thoughtful feedback on the City of Phoenix’s future investment in transportation (Prop 104) and its General Plan (Prop 100). On June 16, RadiatePHX invites the community to rally in support of these important initiatives and their impact on downtown at the August 25 ballot box.
The networking event is a special edition of the monthly RadiatePHX, where business, community, and city leaders gather on a monthly basis to connect about issues and happenings affecting our city’s core.
Featured Speakers: This month’s program features remarks from Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego on MovePHX, PlanPHX Committee Chair Mo Stein on the General Plan, plus a welcome message from this month’s host, DeSoto Central Market General Manager Shawn Connelly.
In “Rock the Vote” spirit, an official voter registration ambassador from the Arizona Secretary of State will be on hand to register voters and answer questions.
When: Tuesday, June 16 5-7 p.m. (program begins at 6 p.m.)
Where: DeSoto Central Market, 915 N. Central Ave., Phoenix 85004
Cost: FREE, with complimentary bites
Park/Ride: Vehicle parking is limited. Walk, bike, or take light rail!
RSVP: June RadiatePHX
Presented by Downtown Phoenix Inc., Downtown Phoenix Journal, and the Phoenix Community Alliance, RadiatePHX is a free monthly networking event that invites you to “connect to the core” to learn about downtown opportunities, issues, and solutions; receive key updates from guest speakers on what’s happening in downtown; and discover how you can connect and contribute.
Roosevelt Neighborhood property owners, business representative and interested citizens recently gathered at the Roosevelt Community Church for a Community Forum that provided insights into what communities can achieve with a Business Improvement District (BID).
While the proposed Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill BID has been a work in progress since last year, the Community Forum was the first opportunity for the general public to understand the process and its potential impact on our downtown.
Dave Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., opened the presentation by pointing out “we are in the midst of building the urban heart of our city right now.” Unlike eastern cities or the coastal cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Phoenix is very young and Krietor noted that “we have a unique opportunity to collectively plan for and build the city we want, district by district.”
The next level of development in the life of the city is happening now in our unique downtown districts and neighborhoods. Increasingly, these areas are coming together to build on those infrastructure bones to create and enhance vibrant neighborhoods that truly bring our urban core to life. A shining example of this important community building has been happening for the last 15 to 20 years in the Roosevelt/Evans Churchill area, which Krietor referred to as “Ground Zero for neighborhood and community building in downtown Phoenix.”
Learning From Others
Three different forum presenters provided their insights into the success of Business Improvement Districts in San Diego, Sacramento and elsewhere, including examples of how participating in a BID assessment has given area property owners an important seat at the table in their cities. They emphasized how property owners in these districts were empowered to make important decisions that have protected and developed the unique features and elements of their neighborhoods.
- Jimmy Parker, San Diego’s Gaslamp District. The success of this BID has meant a $10 return on every dollar invested through the assessment. The Gaslamp District also has developed the highest concentration of affordable housing and the highest concentration of hotels in the city.
- Liz Studebaker, Midtown Sacramento Studebaker’s references to this BID seemed to most resemble the Roosevelt Neighborhood. She explained how the district has been able to support the property owners desire that the arts be a significant defining feature of their neighborhood, followed closely by “third place” amenities such as food, coffee, beer and spirits. As a result of the success of their BID they have developed a much stronger connection with the city and have a direct line to the police for trash abatement and security.
- Allison Harnden, nighttime economy consultant. Harnden showed how planning for nightlife is key, and she pointed out that Roosevelt/Evans Churchill is in a unique position to carefully plan for all of the important elements that will support a thriving nighttime economy in the area.
Locals Weigh In
Greg Esser of the Roosevelt Row CDC and Tim Sprague, of Habitat Metro, a local residential and commercial property developer pointed out that the BID offers an opportunity for self-governance and a collective voice. Sprague openly admitted he’s in the “middle” in terms of his support for the district, but said “It’s a chance to work as a cohesive group.”
The forum concluded with a presentation by Nancy Hormann, the BID consultant who has been working with neighborhood stakeholders the past year to determine what services they want for their area and to develop a proposed workplan.
The consensus is that the added services should include management and administration of the workplan, beautification, added clean and safe services, a parking plan, business and development assistance, event management, and marketing & branding of the area. The estimated cost for these additional services would be $375,000. The city will contribute $75,000 (as an area property owner) and the remaining $300,000 would come from the property owners tax assessment.
By mid-June the final proposed workplan and assessments will be mailed to every property owner (with the exception of single family homeowners, or owners of multi-unit properties with four units or less) in the defined area, which runs east/west from 7th St. to 7th Ave., and from Fillmore St. on the south to Moreland/Hance Park on the north. Property owners will be asked to express whether they support the proposed BID, do not support it, or need further information.
Over the summer months, Nancy and her team will work to reach every property owner to answer questions and provide all of the information they need. Since the total assessment is $300,000, property owners representing $150,001 are needed for the BID to move forward to City Council for approval in the fall.
Property owners can learn more about what’s next for the proposed Roosevelt/Evans-Churchill area BID workplan and assessment by contacting Nancy Hormann directly at Hormann Associates.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
In a brief and dramatic moment at sunrise this morning, a 104-year-old Craftsman bungalow moved from the north to the south side of East Roosevelt Street. The Joseph W. Wurth House, formerly located at 314 E Roosevelt Street is now at it’s new permanent location across the street at 401 E Roosevelt Street.
Originally built in 1911, the Joseph W. Wurth House was donated by Sam and Debra Moyer in memory of Vic Armstrong. John McCullough, owner of McCullough Move-A-Home, oversaw the lifting and relocation of the building. Now retiring, this building relocation will be the last of more than 200 structures that McCullough has relocated over the course of his long and accomplished career.
The new location for the property housed a commercial structure that was demolished by prior owners in 2001 and has been vacant since. The lot and Wurth House are currently owned by Kimber Lanning, owner and operator of the adjacent Modified Arts gallery. Future use of the Wurth House is yet to be determined.
“When the building was slated to be demolished, I knew something needed to be done,” says Lanning. “The house matches the character of this area better than any new construction could, and replaces an empty dirt lot with a beautiful structure.”
East Roosevelt was closed to traffic by the City of Phoenix, while steel plates were placed to protect existing sidewalks. Overhead power lines had to be temporarily relocated by APS in order to accommodate the relocation of the building. Lorenzo Perez, co-owner of Venue Projects who provided the development of the house’s new foundation, is eager for the once vacant home to have new life.
“The Wurth House provides a missing tooth on Roosevelt Street,” says Perez. “It marries an old structure on a vacant parcel, activating an important corner of the community, and continues an on-going legacy made by artists in the area.”
The surrounding community suffered several decades of decline and blight, revitalized by artists who began occupying formerly vacant buildings in the mid-1990’s, creating galleries and studio spaces. Currently, the Roosevelt Row Artists District is home to over 100 local businesses supporting arts and culture.
“This relocation represents a significant moment in the more than century-long history of the area,” says Greg Esser, co-founder of Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. “It preserves a significant structure that contributes to a more vibrant, walkable community for future generations.”