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Longtime vacant lot activated as temporary pocket park
After two years of planning and many volunteer hours, Downtown Phoenix Inc., along with partners Logan Simpson Design and Balfour Beatty Construction , will unveil the Space Between — a beautiful and inviting temporary vacant lot activation project Friday, Aug. 21 from 8-10 a.m.
Led by Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, the ribbon cutting ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m.with free coffee and donuts from Rollover Doughnuts for the first 100 people, pop-up games, music and information about the park.
This new community gathering space and pocket park, located at 517 N. First Street, brings shade, grass, seating, activity and vitality to a vacant parcel of land spanning First and Second streets, nestled between the Valley Youth Theatre and Taylor Place.
“Having an impromptu place to relax or gather with beautiful shaded areas, amenities like tables or benches, all in an intimate, comfortable and vibrant setting — that’s something that we just don’t have enough of in the Urban Core,” said Ray Cabrera, streetscape programs manager at Downtown Phoenix Inc. “We have wonderful parks but we just don’t have enough of them.”
The city-owned lot is slated for future development — hence the “temporary” aspect — so the park’s design incorporates ideas of sustainability, mobility and utility.
“It became clear to us that even though it was going to be a temporary park, people didn’t want it to feel disposable,” said Chad Atterbury, landscape architect at Logan Simpson Design. “We definitely wanted to use salvaged trees, recycled materials and things that could be later moved to a different space — but we also wanted it to look finished and beautiful.”
A number of mature trees salvaged from downtown construction sites highlight the park’s commitment to sustainability, in addition to desert-friendly plants, recycled materials, passive rainwater harvesting and lots of shaded, open space.
Construction got underway Jan. 2015 with the help of Logan Simpson Design and Balfour Beatty Construction — donating time, services and manpower to get the idea of the ground.
“Our company gets involved with a few different charities and we do a lot of volunteer work as well — most of the time it’s commitment of our manpower, not so much development of projects like this,” said Stephen Hulston, vice president and business unit leader for Balfour Beatty Construction. “So being able to transform the space and make something of it — a place where people can come, enjoy, or maybe just get away from it all — that’s the beauty of it.”
In downtown, many vacant lots occupy prime locations between businesses and residences. Not only does the Space Between create a platform for urban regeneration, placemaking and connectivity, but it will hopefully launch new ways of understanding vacant land use and activation.
“We can take what we’ve learned and take what we’ve built and move it to someplace else,” said Cabrera. “There are plenty of other lots either publicly or privately owned — I’m hoping this project takes it to the next level and helps us do this in other places in Downtown Phoenix.”
The Space Between is open to the public. To inquire about booking the space or for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Downtown Phoenix, Inc.