David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
What’s the go-to place when out-of-town politicos, like Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Elizabeth Warren, find themselves needing much larger space to hold their public events? Why, the Phoenix Convention Center, that’s where. It’s great to see our convention center recognized for “hitting its stride” in the world’s leading news and online resource for the trade show, exhibition, and event industry. Congratulations and thanks to Convention Center Director John Chan and his team for being a connected member of our downtown community.
Traveling from Tempe into Downtown Phoenix earlier this month I counted nine large construction cranes. A number of factors are contributing to this urban building boom. One of the most important is that more people – across the nation and around the globe – want to live, work, go to school, and play near public transportation. This makes passage of Proposition 104 in Phoenix critical to our future as a vibrant urban city. Click here to read a few more of my observations about Prop 104. Our mayor, Greg Stanton, weighs in on the matter in this Arizona Republic op-ed.
In this time of summer stay-cations, I now bring you other “-cations” on several different topics pertaining to our downtown…
- Be: Coffee, Food + Stuff now open on Roosevelt Row
- Blended & frozen cocktails with Ross Simon of downtown’s Bitter & Twisted
- Details announced for 2016 Devoured Culinary Classic
- Downtown centennial Old Spaghetti Factory gets face-lift
- Hidden Track Bottle Shop now open in Downtown Phoenix
- June restaurant openings, closings in metro Phoenix
- Mother Bunch Brewery’s Holly Arguello pairs food, beer, pickling & pork belly
- Westin’s Downtown Phoenix restaurant gets new chef, menu, look
- Real, Wild & Woody Summer Beer Festival showcases best of Arizona brewing
- Roberto Dadone & Luca Dagliano open Forno 301 in Downtown Phoenix
- Starbucks price increase deters few Downtown Phoenix drinkers
MONET-CATION (ARTS & CULTURE)
- Bomba Lucha! merges Mexican wrestling with burlesque at Paz Cantina
- Get your comic on at Comicon
- McDowell Mountain Music Festival announces 2016 concert date
- Need a little urban respite from the great outdoors?
- New public art dedicated on Roosevelt Row
- Phoenix metro art institutions poised for change
- ”Phoenix Loves Sci-Fi” film event celebrates Arizona scenery in movies
- Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture awards over $800,000 in grants
- Rosemarie Dombrowski on Phoenix’s literary scene
- The Nash on Roosevelt Row sets jazz offerings for July
- ASU downtown academy mentors next generation of public service leaders
- ASU downtown camp helps high schoolers get hip to health
- ASU downtown group works to create community for Native American students
- Construction of ASU’s law school is expected to bring tax revenue & jobs
- Higher density housing key to downtown Logan (UT) revival
- In a place: former Post Office in Downtown Phoenix
- New ASU nursing degrees include holistic, community-health focuses
- Game CoLab gets new grant, seeks developers for next incubator program
- Inside Roosevelt Barber Shop, where old school meets modern
- Local tech firm, WebPT, makes employee health, fitness a priority
- The history of the YMCA in Downtown Phoenix
- Theranos, ASU team on Downtown Phoenix lab testing site, open to public
- Startup PHX challenge winner to relocate to Monroe Building
- Velo Bike Shop looks to build Downtown Phoenix cycling community
- AIA Phoenix Metro holds “Make a Place” downtown design competition
- Christine Mackay takes bold steps for Phoenix’s economy
- Coyotes tell fans they want to stay at Gila River Arena
- $18.25M financing secured for development of Edison Midtown
- How economic developers plan to boost job growth in the new fiscal year
- New Downtown Phoenix arena could bring end to Coyotes’ bumpy desert road
- New RAPID bus service connects local commuters to Downtown Phoenix
- Once-hazardous South Phoenix lot opens to development
- Phoenix creates shade on Roosevelt Row with giant planters
- Recent sale of One North Central high rise a good sign for downtown Phoenix
- Shipping container developments make their home in Downtown Phoenix
- Campus police say bike thefts dropped significantly in Spring semester
- Charities house displaced homeless from closure of CASS overflow shelter
- Congressional leaders urge U.S. Senate to help phoenix fight the FAA
- Downtown Phoenix security increased with Muslim holiday, liberal convention, and immigration protest
- Drinking from sprinklers, Phoenix homeless scrabble to survive heat wave
- 20 years after Srebrenica, Phoenix holds first ever ‘Walk to Remember’
DPI’s What’s Happening Guide for the week of July 20 to July 26 is hot off the presses. It’s an excellent recap of what’s happening in our downtown. You can review and download a copy by clicking here. And… you can find the “latest and greatest” listing of downtown events at our online events calendar and Facebook page. Have an event that should be promoted in the What’s Happening or online calendar? Submit it here.
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!’
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“Make A Place” with the 2015 AIA Phoenix Metro Design Competition.
The 2015 design competition asks entrants to formulate an innovative program for a theoretical project on a site located in Downtown Phoenix in the Warehouse District between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue, south of Jackson and north of Buchanan.
Downtown Phoenix and the Warehouse District to the south lack meaningful connection enjoyed by most adjoining districts. Over the past decade, attempts have been made to connect these two districts that are divided by rail line. Today, land is being amassed for large-scale development along this boundary.
This development will most likely occur on the Warehouse District side and will probably be comprised of low to mid-density housing. This is a critical point in time when, once development starts, a cascade of independent (yet similar in approach and marketability) projects will most likely follow. At this critical point, this competition is calling for creative and visionary proposals that can inspire and educate our community and developers alike.
“Make a Place” is a competition that asks entrants to formulate an innovative program for a theoretical project on a site located upon this boundary. Critically, entrants must clearly define at least one problem that they hope to address.
The entrant’s assessment of the problem(s) facing this site is not limited to this brief’s assessment (lack of connection between the two districts) and may in fact stand in direct contradiction to it. Entrants are allowed to propose any use or program for this project that they feel best addresses the problem(s) they have identified.
While not mandatory, entrants are encouraged to explore some or all of the following: mixed-use development that includes residential, commercial and public spaces, the automobile underpass conditions at Central and 1st, pedestrian access and quality, incorporate or modify the proposed light rail extension through this area and strengthening of community identity.
Entrants will not be limited by actual zoning laws or overlays. Entrants are asked to present their ideas through a concise written description and a single digital board that elegantly conveys their project. This competition is intentionally open-ended and entrant directed. Entrants are asked to be as visionary or pragmatic as they see fit in both identifying and answering the issues they see facing this specific area of Phoenix.
Entries will be judged on the clarity in which they present the relevance of their proposed site issues and how effectively they design and communicate solutions to these issues. The winning entry will be thoughtful, well conceived, graphically communicative and inspirational to not only architects but the community at large.
Find full details for the competition here.
_ An entrant may be an individual or team.
_ This competition is open to everyone and anyone who wishes to register.
_ Members of the jury and organizing staff are not able to participate.
The entry form can be found on the AIA Phoenix Metro’s website at: aia phoenixmetro.org/design-events/
This will be a blind jury. Once registered, entrants will use only the entry number provided to them to identify their presentation board and written description.
$100 entry fee for non-members
$75 entry fee for AIA members and students
(in the case of a team entrant, only one member need be a student or AIA member)
Competition Launch / start of Q&A period: FRIDAY 19 June 2015
Close of Q&A period: 24 July 2015 (noon) – once registered all entrants will be included in a group email where any questions raised by individual entrants will be answered and published via email to the entire group.
Registration Deadline: 31 July 2015 (noon)
Submission Deadline: Monday, 17 August 2015 (noon)
04 September 2015: Jury meets / closed door
09 September 2015: Finalist list emailed to all entrants
03 October 2015: Winner announced at the AIA AZ AWARDS GALA
Select work to be displayed for public consideration and comment through end of year
First Place – $3,000 + (invitation and 2 tickets to AIA Gala)
Second and Third Place – bragging rights and honorable mentions + (invitation and 2 tickets each to AIA Gala)
Images: AIA Phoenix Metro
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Big Changes Coming to Bentley Gallery
Bentley Gallery will be dramatically changing its 25,000 sq ft facility this summer to allow for a more intimate space to exhibit artwork. Brian Stark of Scottsdale architecture firm STARKJAMES is heading up the design of the gallery and wayfinding.
Another major driving force behind the gallery scaling back on physical space is that brick and mortar art sales have increasingly shifted to the Internet over the past few years. According to Bentley Calverley, “Art collectors today expect galleries to have a robust online presence as more and more art sales are moving to the Internet. In fact, online trade is expected to more than double by 2018. As reputable art sites continue to vet the gallery for inclusion, responding to online requests for information and preparing international shipments has altered how we do business.”
A recent article on Artsy noted that in a survey of collectors on Instagram, more than half had purchased works from artists they originally discovered through that platform. Although the respondents were all active on Instagram, these were significant findings. Experienced art collectors and neophytes are both increasingly using websites to find original contemporary works and ordering them for delivery. This is especially true with younger people, who are quite at ease using online resources. They can do their own research and feel they can be involved in a world that even five years ago may have seemed daunting.
Bentley Gallery director John Reyes agrees that the Internet business has taken off. “I think we’ve reached a turning point,” he said. “People feel more comfortable buying expensive things online. There is growing confidence among collectors that digital images can inform enough about works of art to spend comfortably. We have staff whose time is dedicated to our online presence on our website, our social media platforms, and art-specific sites. We are making great art available to a far wider audience.”
Reyes makes it clear that the gallery will continue to be an art destination in Phoenix, and a beautiful exhibition space. “Though the art world has entered a new era, there are certain things the online experience can never deliver,” Reyes clarifies. “Bentley Gallery is not turning its back on traditional exhibitions or showcasing artists’ works in a gallery setting. We know it’s important to keep the traditional gallery intact because often buyers need context, and we’ll continue to offer that. Our exhibitions today and those planned for the future are as strong as ever, and we house all of the artwork here on site.”
The gallery will be closed during the month of July and will reopen on August 1. Construction on the new space will be completed by late summer.
Image courtesy of Clutch Photos.
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LGE Completes Remodel of Downtown Phoenix Warehouse District Building
LGE Design Build has completed the renovation of the former Jackson’s on 3rd restaurant into a 23,000-square-foot West Coast training center for the Scheduling Institute, a medical and dental practice training company based in Alpharetta, Ga.
The new training center, located at 245 E. Jackson St. in the downtown warehouse district, will complement the company’s existing training facility in Atlanta, provide greater reach into the western U.S. and double the organization’s capacity for events, workshops and seminars.
The Scheduling Institute is the largest dental training company in the world, helping thousands of dentists to make more money while working less. The Scheduling Institute provides unique coaching strategies and team trainings to boost practices’ production, collections and new patient numbers.
Although the Scheduling Institute had previously considered other cities, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the CEO and President of the organization, Jay Geier, decided that Phoenix was the ideal West Coast hub. The facility’s proximity to light rail, entertainment and the airport attracted the company.
In transforming the building, designers incorporated the original look with brick on the exterior as well as interior walls.
“We preserved the unique historic elements of the building and combined them with a modern approach to office space,” said David Sellers, president of LGE Design Build. “LGE Design Build is proud to provide this new home to the Scheduling Institute and contribute to the revitalization of downtown Phoenix.”
Images courtesy of LGE Design Build.