The Friday Urban Dispatches are a unique boots-on-the-ground perspective of what’s happening in our own backyard of downtown Phoenix.
Hance…enHANCEd. Last week was the big master plan reveal for the next chapter in the life of downtown’s Hance Park. The plan delineates the park into three areas: a neighborhood park on the west, a civic plaza in the middle, and a performance hub on the east.
BIDding for Roosevelt Row. The City of Phoenix is in the process of authorizing up to $80,000 to study whether an Enhanced Municipal Services District (EMSD), otherwise known as a Business Improvement District (BID), would work in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood. The academic literature is mixed on its assessment of EMSDs but a couple trends and themes quickly emerge: 1. Property values in EMSDs do rise significantly. For real estate investors, this is good; for independent shops, can they shoulder the added expense of their lease payment? 2. EMSDs are generally instituted in areas that have significant decline in property values or civic interest. If there’s one neighborhood in central city Phoenix for which that is the exact opposite, it would be Roosevelt Row.
Budgeting for the worst. Since the last Friday Urban Dispatch, the City of Phoenix released their trial budget and their cuts-only solution to ameliorate a $38 million deficit from the books is not pretty. It closes parks and parks-related programming, slashes operational support to arts and cultural organizations, and places minimal value on the civic fabric of our community. While I do think some long-standing contracts, including employee compensation, need to be looked at, to fix this year’s budget through cuts only is not right. Was the 2% food tax phased down too early? Maybe.
A podcast of action. After Monday, The Downtown Phoenix Podcast will be 3/4 finished with its inaugural series production. What’s in store for it after the series 1 finale goes online on April 21? Even I don’t know. I have been pleased with its reception and I am sure it will be back for even greater things.
Thank you, Debra. Tonight is First Friday and I hope that you’ll be able to come by Obliq Art at the Arizona Center for a community tribute to the life and legacy of Debra Friedman, the former Dean of the ASU College of Public Programs who unexpectedly passed away in January. To those who had the great privilege to work alongside Dr. Friedman, it was so evident that the arts held a special place in both her heart and as a cornerstone for the partnerships that she facilitated.