The Friday Urban Dispatches are a unique boots-on-the-ground perspective of what’s happening in our own backyard of downtown Phoenix.
Will it be built? News broke this week of the purchase of the soon-to-be-former Childhelp building at 2354 N Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix. While Childhelp has moved to the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center building down the block at 2120 N Central Avenue, Deco Communities is planning a $22 million five-story condominium project to replace the current building. This will be the first new-build project in midtown since the opening of light rail in 2008 and the first new project proposed since adjacent anti-density / NIMBY neighbors in historic districts killed a four-story apartment complex at 3rd Avenue and Camelback near the uptown Phoenix METRO station.
Ballpark density. Another residential project has been proposed for south of the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Marketed as the “Phoenix Ballpark Properties,” the project takes design cues from the developer’s recent portfolio of projects in Portland, Ore., and Denver. Situated on a site containing two historically significant buildings and a warehouse, the two buildings will be integrated into the site while the warehouse will be demolished. It’s a project, it’s density (yay!) and the design is relatively okay. But one does wonder if this design would pass design review in those two other cities.
Bicycle share on hold. The news came out earlier this month that due to supply chain issues, the launch of Phoenix’s “Grid Bikes” bicycle-share system is on hold until later this year. While many in the downtown community are lamenting this, I’m actually quite happy with the delay. As we are starting to march toward summer, bicycling happens with only the most die-hard individuals who have their own equipment. And this gives Phoenix more time to set up actual bicycling infrastructure in the downtown core, which is something I believed should have been done before bicycle-share was launched.
Yet another high-priced destination restaurant. I realize that I’m turning into a sort-of Mr. Cranky when it comes to the opening of restaurants downtown but while I’m sure they have good food, I wonder where the nearby density to support them is. Also, for those of us who prefer to make our own meals at home in our own kitchens (for health reasons, economic reasons, or because we like to make our own food!), where’s our walkable grocery store downtown?
Shade, shade, shade. On Facebook, I posted my three ways to make urban Phoenix more livable and more walkable, especially as we near summer. I’ll share them here: 1. Shade; 2. Shade; and 3. Shade. And no, metal shade doesn’t count…at all. We need trees that provide shade at the pedestrian and bicycling level. And while I realize palm trees are a key part of Phoenix’s history and heritage, no new palm trees should be planted in Phoenix. Existing palm trees can certainly be replaced with new palm trees as the need arises. This is something that I have continuously communicated with City leaders and in my civic advocacy but it always seems to fall on deaf ears. Sometimes the simplest interventions are the best.