Wish List: Roosevelt Row

One new idea for every day in 2011. We're talking big, small, local, international, in action and on the drawing board. Here's today's -- what's yours?

First Friday, Third Friday, hell, we could spend any Friday (or day between) on Roosevelt Row.

The Downtown neighborhood and business community is home to a few of Phoenix's best art galleries, coolest coffee shots, and newly opened DIY spots including The Lab and Circle 6 that celebrate local creatives. And there's still room for opportunity.

The area around the central Roosevelt Road has a few empty storefronts and buildings in-transition, and we have a few artistic ideas ...

6. Barb & Beer @ 222 W. Roosevelt
The boarded-up, red-brick building on Roosevelt Road was once home to 307 Lounge, one of the most popular gay bars in town, which closed in 2000. Its exterior walls have seen the work of Lalo Cota and PBR campaigns, and the interior is home to one of Phoenix's oldest murals -- a series of twirling dancers by Ted DeGrazia that's been kept under tight wraps since the bar closed.

Sure, we'd like to see the booze back in the brick building, and we think a few talented stylists could bring their sheers and set up, barbershop-style for the sake of Downtown hipsterdom and bearded creatives alike.

Call it a riff on Scottsdale's beauty bars; we'll stick to a simple (and enjoyable) combination of a shave and a pint.

5. Wet Paint Downtown @  821 N 3rd St. Ste 13
The Downtown arts district could use a serious art supply store, and Wet Paint would be a pretty cool addition to the neighborhood.

The locally owned Tempe business sells a variety of graf gear, canvases, brushes, clay, and creative tools as well as a selection of art by local artists including Jessica Jordan (who owns the shop) and Dumperfoo, and tees by Anton Anger and William LeGoullon.


Jones Studio @ 820 N. Third St.
Jobot just doesn't feel the same without the Jones birdhouse, which marked the shared (and hidden) studio space of artists Randall Wilson and Casebeer.

The two moved out long before the coffee spot announced its plans to fully expand into the adjoined space, but we can't help but see their solo and collaborative artwork, late-night playlists, and Third Friday openings in the well-lit (and located) spot on Third Street.

3. Contemporary Forum @ Modified Arts
When Kim Larkin announced she was stepping down as director of Modified Arts, the future of the space was undecided.

During the summer, Kimber Lanning (who owns the building) coordinated temporary art programming including a clever exhibition by Ryan Peter Miller and a cool sculpture show curated by ASU student Lindz Lew.

While programming will continue for the foreseeable future, the spacious gallery could be a neat space for Phoenix Art Museum's Contemporary Forum, and a gallery-to-museum bridge for the local contemporary art community. 

2. Medical Marijuana Dispensary @ 825 N. First St. 
The organic tradition of the former Mexican restaurant could easily be continued with a new kind of greenery. The large space, equipped with a full kitchen would have plenty of space for medical merchandise and room for a bakery, to boot.

1. Changing Hands Downtown @ 1011 N. Third St. 
The multi-use spot on Roosevelt Road and Third Street is begging for a renovation and a new chapter.

We'd like to see a few hundred new chapters, brought in by Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore.

The 90,000-square-foot spot, with plenty of parking space, would be a welcome literary addition to the Downtown corner and would give us a great excuse to pick up a few books, and spend an afternoon reading and brainstorming a few more ideas for one of our favorite neighborhoods.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton