Culture News

10 Changes Coming to Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix in 2016

Roosevelt Row underwent some serious changes in 2015. The small section of downtown Phoenix renowned for its thriving arts scene saw several buildings, including those that were home to GreenHaus and Bodega 420, demolished to make way for new multi-level residential developments. Lauren Lee’s iconic Three Birds mural was torn down in the process. The City of Phoenix commissioned a new work of public art titled Shadow Play designed by Meejin Yoon of Boston. And new murals, including several by Tyson Krank, popped up in assorted places.

The year ahead will bring significant changes as well, some of which were already underway. Here are 10 to watch for in 2016.

Restored Beth Hebrew Synagogue
Michael Levine is continuing to refurbish the Beth Hebrew Synagogue that went unused as a synagogue for four decades and looked in early 2015 like a giant graffiti canvas set amid a wilderness of weeds. Levine purchased the building early in 2015, and by September it was ready to Rosh Hoshana services. This year, he partnered with Crescent Ballroom owner Charlie Levy to present a Downtown Shabbat service on January 8.

New Residential Developments
Several developers broke ground last year on residential communities that will still be under construction during 2016, and others are starting construction this year. Developments in the heart of Roosevelt Row include two Baron Properties developments titled Illuminate and Linear, both located at Roosevelt and Third Streets, and an Alliance Residential Company development going in between Third and Fifth Streets and Roosevelt and Portland Streets. By 2017, streets once filled with single-story buildings will be dotted with multi-level housing units.

Repurposed Shipping Containers
A trio of shipping containers that served as art galleries in 2015 were moved late last year from the north to the south side of Roosevelt Street. But they’ll undergo a more significant change in 2016, when they’ll be reconfigured as part of a multi-container artist live-work space. Greg Esser, the Phoenix artist who founded the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, is creating a three-level structure comprising up to 11 shipping containers. Several containers will continue to serve as galleries, even during construction, which Esser hopes to have completed by summer’s end.

Wurth House Renovations
Last year, when it looked like a vacant and vandalized house at 314 East Roosevelt Street would be demolished to make way for a new residential development, Kimber Lanning arranged to have it moved across the street to a dirt lot located west of Modified Arts. Then Lanning launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the cost of fixing up the house, which was built in 1911. To date she’s raised just over $20,000 of her $150,000 goal, but expects contractors to begin work in another 30 days or so. Renovations should be completed by late summer, she says, and once it’s ready the house will serve as both a Roosevelt Row welcome center and an office space for Local First Arizona.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble