Crossroads for the Artwalk

How much longer can we T.G.I. First Friday?

"We're not going out for enforcement," Hynes says. "We're going out for education." He acknowledges that there have been some First Friday noise complaints, and that the increased crowds have caused parking and trash problems. (The Phoenix Police Department was unable to provide detailed statistics by New Times' deadline.) But he's mainly concerned about keeping the event safe and enjoyable for everyone downtown. "We want the place to feel inviting," he says.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon says he sees First Fridays' growing pains as a sign of good momentum for Phoenix. "The good news is that now we are beginning to experience issues that nobody would've dreamed of," he says. First Fridays have brought energy and connectivity to places that didn't used to be connected, as well as building uses that weren't anticipated 10 or 20 years ago, he says. For example, many of the art spaces have flourished in buildings that used to be homes, which naturally creates problems with noise and the co-existence of businesses alongside residences.

"I think the biggest challenge we're going to have is just communication," Gordon says. "You know, what is occurring is an urban fabric, and some areas just aren't used to it. These are the type of problems any mayor of any major city would like to have -- a downtown that is trying to balance uses, as opposed to some of the mayors that I've talked to in other cities where people are fleeing the downtown and the downtown is deteriorating."

E-mail michele.laudig@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8497.

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