Sorry, We're Closed

Downtown businesses are struggling to stay afloat

But Grady says, "I think case-by-case is in fact the policy."

Currently in discussion are the three acres of land the city owns north of Post Roosevelt Square between Central and Third avenues on Portland. Grady says that property could house residential condominiums.

And then there's the artist housing project, north of Roosevelt between Second and Third streets. Though it, too, is only in discussion, Grady says some units could be "live/work" units, meaning the artist could live in a unit and have space set aside for a studio.

As to whether the piecemeal approach will work, Richard Fleming, who served as the president and CEO of Denver's downtown partnership during the boom years, says, "The old urban renewal way of plunking down a 500- to 1,000-unit development is not the answer."

He says Phoenix can "chunk away" as long as "chunking away hits a critical mass."


On a Saturday night about a month ago, Phoenix mayor-elect Phil Gordon was walking downtown. He passed a McDonald's. It was closed.

"Show me another McDonald's in America that's closed on a Saturday night," Gordon says.

A couple days later, someone brought it up in conversation. Then it hit him. "If we don't have enough activity going on downtown to keep open a McDonald's, we have to get a [university] downtown," Gordon says.

This is just one of many ideas Gordon has to revitalize the area. The new mayor is arguably the key player in any effort to build a new downtown. He's certainly one of downtown's most ardent supporters. If Gordon has his way, downtown Phoenix will be a drastically different place when he leaves office.

Forget chunking away. For Gordon, a downtown campus is the urban density home run. "I'm making it my downtown vision," he says.

This particular vision happens to be of the Arizona Biomedical Collaboration. Although the specifics are lacking at this point, the proposed downtown campus would coordinate research between the universities and the state's hospitals. It's supported by the presidents of the state's three public universities.

"This is huge," Pat Grady says.

The university presidents say the campus could house 12,000 Arizona State University students and 3,000 more from the University of Northern Arizona.

"Those individuals will filter into First Fridays and the Herberger, Majerle's and Kincaid's," Gordon says.

They'll need rental housing as well. "It's so obvious to me now," Gordon enthuses. "My vision is we get that downtown campus built within the next couple of years."

Gordon has other ideas to help the small retailers and those who want to combine historic preservation with modern-day entrepreneurship.

He suggests creating merchant associations, much like the Seventh Avenue Merchants Association he helped form as a councilman. It was the first of its kind in downtown Phoenix.Consisting of 90 businesses between Indian School Road and Camelback Road, SAMA has used a $90,000 "Fight Back" grant from the city and a $700,000 federal grant to improve denigrating areas along Seventh Avenue, says Renee Pepino, founder of SAMA and owner of Roman Table Restaurant, at 4221 North Seventh Avenue.

If SAMA is successful in fighting blight and promoting more pedestrian-friendly intersections, Pepino says other associations will form in other neighborhoods, each of them working, as SAMA is now, to get more mixed-use retail.

For the historic preserver, who faces two years of paperwork because of the city's code, as the Gold Spot's Mike Hogarty did, Gordon says speed up the process by eliminating the parts of the code that don't directly relate to safety issues.

"Our code is a great code," Gordon says, "but it's designed for new construction, not for infill or preservation of buildings. Our philosophy and our intent is that we should look at our code or revise the current code so that it would give flexibility to the people wanting to do [historic] projects. But we've got to make sure we don't change the safety issues."

And for increased foot traffic throughout downtown, which would help create a 24-hour city, Gordon says people will use the light rail once it's finished in 2006.

"Before I leave office," he promises, "we'll be at the front of the line as one of the great downtowns in America."

E-mail paul.kix@newtimes.com, or call 602-238-4807.

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2 comments
patientlywaiting
patientlywaiting

I'm not sure I agree with the reason why Daniel Malventano of Daniel's states for not expanding in the downtown area. I think he couldn't afford to expand, PERIOD! I've been waiting months for payment of an invoice (which, by the way, is under $150.00). He must have fallen into dire financial straits, poor fellar.

patientlywaiting
patientlywaiting

I'm not sure I agree with the reason why Daniel Malventano of Daniel's states for not expanding in the downtown area. I think he couldn't afford to expand, PERIOD! I've been waiting months for payment of an invoice (which, by the way, is under $150.00). He must have fallen into dire financial straits, poor fellar.

 
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