Grand Avenue has had some work done. A few new traffic lines here, a couple LED light bulbs there, and suddenly a classic stretch of the Phoenix landscape is looking 20 years younger. And like all great facelifts, the most noticeable changes will be done in time for the party. The 5th Annual Grand Avenue Festival will take place on October 19, and organizers couldn’t be more excited to show off the renovations.
The changes are the result of a six-month study of the neighborhood, which included open meetings with business owners, community members, and engineers. The City of Phoenix reviewed the findings and granted funds to put the initial recommendations into place, which include changing the road from five to three lanes, establishing permanent on-street parking, and creating a dedicated bike lane. The changes are expected to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
Meet a few who make our angled avenue grand:
Beatrice Moore: owner of Kooky Krafts and long time Grand Avenue property owner, Beatrice also recently opened the Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery where the community-curated shows give Grand Avenue a dose of fine art and interesting exhibits.
Mark Abromovitz: the man with the plans, Mark’s company recently completed a sweeping renovation of the classic O.S. Stapley building, bringing it into the modern era while maintaining the charm of this staple of Grand Avenue.
Kirby Hoyt: the principle of Edge Industries, an urban planning firm located on Grand Avenue focusing on integrating the best part of the natural and historic landscape with interesting new projects.
Bob Graham: as principal of Motley Design Group, Bob works to preserve the historic buildings we’re so fond of here in Phoenix, while renovating structures and bringing new life to Grand Avenue.
Wm. Timothy Sprague – In addition to being a development principle at Habitat Metro, he is an active member of the Roosevelt Action Association and Grand Avenue Merchants Association, to name a few. He is a concerned steward of responsible development in downtown.
Beatrice Moore, owner of Kooky Krafts on Grand Avenue, said the changes will discourage drivers from speeding, and will hopefully lead to an influx of walking traffic.
“It will really make the street feel a lot more pedestrian friendly. It’s pretty dramatic actually. Those green bicycle lanes are pretty amazing,” she said.
Tim Sprague of Habitat Metro describes these initial changes as the “low-hanging fruit” of the study.
“These are the findings that could be easily implemented and done in time for the festival,” he said.
The Grand Avenue Merchants Association is hosting the annual festival to celebrate neighborhood sustainability and the history of Grand Avenue, and are hoping to draw artists, business owners, and children of all ages to the event. Throughout the day, pedestrians can grab a free pedicab to view the area, or take part in a free Re-Dapt Historic Commercial Building Tour.
A new addition to this year’s festival will be the opportunity to see and experience the many art studios in the neighborhood. A favorite among fans, the Un.Trashed Recycled Rubbish Fashion Show and the Trashy Hat Promenade will return in all of their unwashed glory.
Fresh out of trashy duds? You’re in luck, as in the weeks leading up to the festival the Bergamot Institute will be holding free open workshops at the Frontal Lobe Community Space, to help you refashion your rubbish into something wearable in time for the festival.
And while you’re down there, check out the newly completed renovations to the O.S. Stapley building, a Phoenix Historic Property built in 1927. Owner Mark Abromovitz said he tried to maintain the integrity of the building, while making it usable to modern tenants.
“I do more adaptive reuse. I’ll take old buildings and retrofit them for contemporary uses,” he said.
Each new floor plan is 6000 square feet, with availability to adjust the size given the needs of the tenant. An open house will be held for possible investors and the public on October 17, to show off the renovations and rental possibilities. The first confirmed tenant is Heckler Design, a local office furniture and supply company.
And the changes made to the street will only further enhance the culture making it a destination for small business owners and the art community.
If you go
Event: Grand Avenue Festival
Date: Saturday, October 19, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., (the After Hours event is 8 to 10 p.m.)