As the pent-up raw energy and imagination of Phoenix’s new urban dwellers is being embodied in “pop-up” everything we have to ask, what’s next? Why are we waiting so long to fill our desert of empty lots? And as we start the first residential building cycle since 2003, what’s different in 2012?

In short. Everything is different. People ARE living downtown. It’s driving everything. For the first time in any development cycle in living memory we are passing “go” with a living, breathing and, more importantly, active and vocal population in the heart of the city.

A see-through view of the Phoenix skyline, courtesy of Concord Eastridge’s residential development on Roosevelt St. Photo by David Newcombe.

Nothing builds buyers and renter confidence more than friends that already live and love the experience of downtown. Radiating Phoenix has never been easier.

Developing where the new city dwellers live is a bigger problem. We have to build apartments, town homes and condos. We have to have walkable streets to add to the home run of the brilliant light rail.

Like all great cities in this world we need to develop an urban core that is just that. The one thing we must avoid is taking the tract home into the city (yes Scottsdale, we’re talking about The Waterfront Residences). Another is alienating the youthful and energetic heart that is leading this revolution. Tempe made that little misstep when it went after the corporate dollar and ignored its heart (pun intended) in the last cycle.

So what do we do? How do we help our new mayor change the lumbering processes, old agreements, and lingering fiefdoms that are the major obstacles in our path to success? The ball and chain that stops this potentially great capitol city becoming what it should be.

We must learn from our past, and most importantly use our amazing local talent to create gold standard development examples instead of importing them from completely irrelevant places.

In the next few weeks and months we will look at the developments that work by interviewing residents that live in them, and who knows, you may end up wanting to live in one yourself. We’ll talk to developers, politicians, architects, and we’d love to talk to you. If there isn’t somewhere you want to live right now, I bet we can create it together.

It’s time to move Phoenix to the future as the poster child of American Urbanization 2012 style, and it’s time for us all to play our part as we move from pop-up to stay up.