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.
On a quick walk around Downtown Phoenix, new construction and historic renovations dot the landscape in every direction. Within just a few blocks of Lola Coffee on Roosevelt and 3rd Ave, new structures are quickly changing the makeup of a handful of streets. But what’s less noticeable is that many of the most exciting new projects coming to this side of downtown Phoenix are being ushered in by one development firm that is placing an all-in bet on livelihood of downtown.
The firm is Metrowest Development, and the bet is that more people want to live, work, and relax in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
Recently, the story on everyone’s mind was the Union @ Roosevelt: a mixture of retail and housing that will surely deserve the coveted 1st Avenue and Roosevelt intersection more than the dirt that currently lies. After breaking ground with Mayor Greg Stanton just a few weeks ago, the team of Doug Gannett and Matt Seaman are preparing to turn renderings and plans into glass and concrete.
But the Union doesn’t tell the whole story of Metrowest’s involvement in downtown. Indeed, the firm’s work can be seen in finished and under construction projects throughout the Roosevelt neighborhood, beginning with the Cathedral Townhomes on 2nd Avenue south of Roosevelt.
After being abandoned for eight years and becoming just one more empty structure in downtown, Metrowest converted the historic building into four modern condos, which quickly sold out. Further south on the same street, two of the more recent projects are weeks away from being finalized.
As many downtown dwellers know, walking past abandoned historic homes surrounded by chain link fence is nothing new. But last year, the City of Phoenix decided to address two of those neighboring properties on 2nd Avenue, and issued a call for development proposals. The partners at Metrowest submitted their ideas to convert them back into functioning homes, and were selected to complete the work.
Two of the oldest buildings in the Roosevelt neighborhood, which the City of Phoenix condemned in the late 80s, are now unrecognizable as fully restored, completely livable homes.
“We want to get more people down here, so we converted them back to single family residences,” said Matt Seaman, downtown phoenix resident and Principal and Development Partner at Metrowest.
“We made an agreement with the city that we would not sell to investors. We would only sell to people who wanted to live here permanently as their primary residence.”
The houses were originally build in 1909, and due to decay had to be completely gutted and rebuilt, but the team kept the historic character in mind while adding modern touches, like leaving brick walls exposed in the living room.
While this project is smaller in scale than the Union, it reflects the team’s desire to invest in downtown in a multitude of ways.
“We’re not afraid to do a couple single family houses … or an 80 unit apartment building,” Seaman said.
While the Union @ Roosevelt may be a ways off from being complete, their Townhomes on 3rd project is set to be complete by this summer, and will feature newly built townhomes complete with office/gallery space on the bottom floors, two-car garages, and two bedrooms each. Not surprisingly, the complex is completely sold out.
“I meet with every buyer. We’re really particular … we don’t want to just sell to a bunch of investors. Our goal is for this neighborhood to evolve,” Seaman said.
And with people, come the questions of livability in a city center with growing public markets but no grocery store within a walkable distance. But as Matt puts it, before a grocery store comes to downtown, people need to get here first.
“This is going to be a good year for Roosevelt and downtown. You’re talking about adding another 1,500 bodies down here [through planned residential developments] that will frequent the restaurants, support the small businesses, and will just continue to build that critical mass that you need to build a grocery store.”
While the partners at Metrowest find themselves knee-deep in projects at the moment, they continue to add developments to their future plans, and have announced another exciting addition they’re bringing to the downtown landscape.
Beginning next year, they team will start work on McKinley Row, a new residential development of townhomes on the corner of 4th Avenue and McKinley Street. This project, along with the mixed retail and living space at the Union @ Roosevelt, makes the strong case that not only do people want to visit downtown, they’re ready to invest in a life here. And it’s not just prospective homebuyers who are taking notice.
Mayor Greg Stanton at the groundbreaking for the Union @ Roosevelt described the challenge to take an awkward piece of land and turn it into a destination project, noting that it proves that interest in downtown is truly accelerating.
“This shows that downtown has really arrived. The arc of the city is where developers are willing to put in the time, effort, and creativity to get a project like this done,” Mayor Stanton said.
The buy-in from the city makes all the different for Metrowest, Matt said, and allows the partners to make a personal wish for the growth of the city into a concrete reality.
“I live in the neighborhood, and I’ve participated with this neighborhood for a long time. It’s been a very progressive neighborhood that wants to see more urban development.”
Project images courtesy of Metrowest Development.
An ephemeral Art Detour pop-up space reveals long-covered DeGrazia murals and showcases plans for a new Lauren Lee mural.
Iconic Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia is most widely remembered for his commercially popular paintings of large-eyed children, faceless angels, and Southwestern-themed imagery. But two murals he left behind in downtown Phoenix—hidden under protective sheetrock for years—reveal a glimpse of DeGrazia’s other subjects, and his unique mark on the community.
“A lot of times, DeGrazia would go into a place and someone would say to him, ‘Oh, here’s a sandwich and a pitcher of beer,’ you know, ‘Would you paint me a picture?’ and he’d do it for lunch,” says DeGrazia Foundation Executive Director Lance Laber. “Now, this is a pretty extensive mural, so I know he didn’t do it for lunch,” he continues with a laugh. “This mural is 12 feet tall and it’s 40 feet long.”
Laber is describing a mural covering a large expanse of interior wall at 222 E. Roosevelt in the former greenHAUS Gallery. “The establishment was a bar,” he says, and explains that the murals were most likely painted around 60 years ago. “….They go along with the way DeGrazia’s style was in the ‘50s.”
On the Roosevelt walls, a smaller mural shows a dancer twirling in a glass, while the huge 40-foot work depicts scenes of alcohol production, from loincloth-clad figures gathered around a cauldron to a hillbilly moonshine still. “Everybody’s making some kind of booze,” says Laber. “That seems to be the theme of the mural.” Both pieces feature opaque greenish-turquoise backgrounds, and while the dancer is painted on drywall attached to wood studs, the alcohol scenes were applied directly to a very thin layer of plaster adhering to a double- brick wall.
For years, the artwork was covered and protected by sheetrock and Laber learned about the murals when building owner Baron Properties contacted the DeGrazia Foundation back in September 2014. “I had never seen anything by DeGrazia that looked like that—truly amazing,” says Laber. “The murals are kind of old…they’re a little faded from time, but they’re very interesting.”
“We learned of the two pieces as we were conducting our due diligence to buy the property,” says Baron partner Scott Fisher. “We called Lance [Laber] to understand what the murals were and what they stood for and their importance.” He continues, “We wanted to do the right thing and…donate the paintings, so that’s why we called the DeGrazia Foundation.” Baron has owned property in the Valley since 2004 and intends to build a new building on the Roosevelt site, but the company has worked out a rare opportunity with Artlink in which the DeGrazia murals will be open to the public during March First Friday and Art Detour 27 from March 6-8. “We don’t just share a desire to preserve the DeGrazia artwork,” says Fisher. “We want to do what we can to actually enhance and expand a great arts neighborhood with additional efforts too.”
Laber has been working with Baron and an art conservator to determine how the murals can be preserved, and believes the smaller mural can be saved. “That’s on a piece of sheetrock that we believe can be removed from the wall,” he says. The larger mural is a different story. No one has yet devised a method to protect such an expansive piece against the torque exerted on a thin layer of aging stucco. “If you start trying to peel it off or get behind it and get it off, you’re probably just going to break it into a thousand pieces,” says Laber.
“In either case, we plan on having a professional photographer take very high-definition photographs and donate those to the Foundation and whoever else is interested,” says Fisher. “We understand that the Roosevelt Arts District is very important, and so our new projects on Roosevelt…we plan on displaying and highlighting local art from local artists. Our plan is to have more artwork, not less.”
And the beautiful Lauren Lee mural “Three Birds” on the building’s outside east-facing wall? Lee recognized that it was going to be difficult to save the piece, so she approached Baron Properties about the possibility of producing a new piece for the new building.
Fisher said, “When Lauren Lee approached us with her idea, the answer was a resounding yes. That’s because our goal is to create a combination of the preserved art along with the newer works and contribute to a great success story in the heart of Phoenix.”
Lee said, “I’ll be painting three massive birds in flight on the five-story-high new building that will be called ‘iLuminate.’ Given their name, the developer suggested that we illuminate the birds from below so that they can be seen from far away, which I think will be spectacular.”
Lee added, “The new concept design will be displayed at Art Detour this weekend in a pop-up art gallery hosted by Artlink in the greenHAUS building. I’ll be there answering questions with the new painting and design rendering of the ‘Three Birds in Flight,’ as well as offering prints of the ‘Three Birds’ mural for sale. It’s difficult to convey my happiness about this, but I am truly happy that the ‘Three Birds’ get to live on in a new way, in a new stage of their evolution.”
Take advantage of this final opportunity to see the DeGrazia murals and Lauren Lee’s “Three Birds” at Art Detour this weekend.
If You Go:
What: Artlink Pop Up Gallery – Art Detour 27
Where: 222. E. Roosevelt St.
When: Saturday and Sunday, March 7 & 8, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Update: Recently released, DeGrazia: The Man and the Myths is a new biography of DeGrazia by James W. Johnson and Marilyn D. Johnson from The University of Arizona Press. Both authors join DeGrazia Foundation Executive Director Lance Laber at the Tucson Festival of Books on Sunday, March 15 in the Student Union’s Kachina room on the U of A campus for a panel discussion from 1 p.m.-2 p.m., followed by a book-signing.