The event drew over 100 people. Photo by Dorina Bustamante

A community conversation was held this morning at the Ro2 Lot, on the northeast corner of 2nd and Roosevelt Streets, to discuss temporary use projects for empty lots in Downtown Phoenix.

Over one hundred people showed up to hear Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and William McDonough (international sustainability expert and the author of Cradle to Cradle) discuss urban sustainability efforts both locally and internationally, with a particular emphasis on ways in which the City of Phoenix can create incentives for private property owners to participate in temporary lot activation projects.

Stanton noted that as the economy begins to improve, we have “a unique moment in time” to rethink development, to “do it right” and not go back to “the same old same old.” As one way of “doing it right,” he proposed using empty city lots as demonstration projects to show what can be done. Appropriate temporary use projects could include gardens, arts spaces, pocket parks and more.

William McDonough, Mayor Stanton and Colin Tetreault. Photo by Dorina Bustamante

Mayor Stanton was quick to point out that there is nothing anti-private property about encouraging these projects and that a savvy developer can develop a great deal of good will in the community by allowing appropriate temporary use. He hinted that he will be making an announcement within the next thirty days involving “a big empty lot project.” The where and what remains unknown for now.

Beyond the issue of temporary activation of vacant lots, Stanton addressed the next evolution of transportation in a regional environment and pointed out that all transportation systems need to be supportive of our aging population, and that development along the light rail and walkability are important quality of life factors as we grow older.

He also addressed the role of historic preservation in overall sustainability efforts, mentioning the A.E. England building as a “great demonstration project” of how an historic building can be adapted to new uses, and applauding Michael Levine’s work in restoring the historic warehouses just south of Downtown.

The Lot – What Should Go Here? is a “Phoenix-based community project to help creatively activate and transform one vacant lot at a time into temporary spaces the community can enjoy until they are later developed.” Community partners in this initiative include Roosevelt Row CDC, the ASU Global Institute for Sustainability, Urban Initiatives, Continental Shift, Edge Industries/The Funk Lab, monOrchid , Champion PR + Consulting, and Envirogreen.