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.
New Small Businesses
Several small businesses opened in Roosevelt Row during 2015, including Be Coffee and The Bosque plant boutique, both located in the monOrchid building on Roosevelt Street just west of Third Street, and Public Image, a salon located on the ground floor of Roosevelt Point. Cobra Arcade Bar opened this month with more than three dozen arcade games from owner Ariel Bracamonte’s collection. And Roosevelt Point will welcome another new business in 2016. Expect some businesses, including Palabra art gallery and hair salon, to move to new locations in 2016.
A pop-up park at Second and Roosevelt Streets, which was transformed in 2012 from a dirt lot to a grassy oasis, got a new way-finding sign last year – and a fresh coat of white paint over an Isaac Caruso orchid-and-butterfly mural on the neighboring monOrchid gallery building. This month, Brian Boner is working to complete a new mural on the space. Inspired by the I Have a Name Project, it’s meant to raise awareness of homelessness. But changes are coming to the Peritoneum sculpture in the pop-up park as well, according to a sign posted on the mostly-blue structure created by five ASU students in 2011 that invites the curious to follow its progress on social media.
Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market
The Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space (A.R.T.S.) Market previously located at 408 East Roosevelt Street moved in December of last year to Second Street and Roosevelt – where it will continue in 2016 as a curated fine art, handmade craft, vintage, and culinary marketplace during First and Third Fridays.
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Business Improvement District
Roosevelt Row business and property owners may have a new resource for managing the Roosevelt Row arts district if the Phoenix City Council approves a plan to create an Enhanced Municipal Services District. These districts, which exist in several other cities including San Diego, help with events management, marketing, and beautification. The Phoenix City Council Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee has recommended that the City Council approve the district when it comes up for a vote at the City Council’s January 20 meeting. It’s too soon to tell exactly how the new district will impact the look and feel of Roosevelt Row if it’s created.
Paz Cantina Food Truck
Paz Cantina, a restaurant and bar that anchored a corner at Third and Roosevelt Streets, was demolished late in 2015 to make room for an Alliance Residential Company development – but plans to return as part of the new development once it’s completed. In the interim, owner Michael Reyes is continuing to operate his business through the Paz food truck, which has been making the rounds in Roosevelt Row for several weeks now.
Streetscape changes started in 2015 will continue into May, according to Greg Esser, who says they’ll include widening of additional sidewalks and increased landscaping. Esser says the tree planters shaped like giant garden pots, which currently sit on the south side of the sidewalk on Roosevelt Street west of Third Street, may get relocated this year because of a new development that borders them.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.