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Randy Slack, owner of Legend City and 3CarPileUp, applied in April and was "provisionally approved" earlier this summer for a five-year forgivable loan of $30,000. He planned to use the funding to "blow out the front" of his warehouse art space at Sixth Avenue and Van Buren and restore the old-school red brick lying underneath the stucco and paint façade.

But under the rules of the program, Slack says he'd have to get estimates, complete the upgrades on his own dime and then submit the receipts without any guarantees he'd be reimbursed.

"You're going to be shelling out $45,000 and hoping that you're good to go," says Slack. "And guess what? If they come out and say everything isn't right, guess what? You gotta spend more. It's kinda a scary investment for artists, especially since we don't have that kind of money lying around."

Slack is "on the fence" as to whether he'll follow Esser's lead and pull out of the program.

"We're like everybody else -- we're a little leery and are holding off, especially with what happened during last First Friday," says Slack.

Phil Jones says the city is now forming three task forces to help the artists. One will address First Friday, and another will deal more generally with issues affecting artists in Phoenix, including zoning. And sprinklers. Most galleries don't have them; city inspectors suggest they should.

The third will focus solely on storefront grants.


If ever there was an expert on the confusing nature of the bureaucracy of city government, it'd be John Logan. As the restaurateur and guitarist/vocalist for The MadCaPs takes a break from running the new eatery Carly's he opened recently on Roosevelt with his fiance, Carla Wade, he talks about the months of frustrations they've endured to get to the day they welcomed their first customer.

To keep other dreamers like him from having to fight the red tape, Logan is putting together a workshop to steer them through the sticky stuff. It's just one way, he says, people can "fill in the gaps" when the city cannot provide and artists want to survive.

"This is sort of where the people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and survive on your own," says Logan, watching his precocious 6-year-old daughter Grace play a handheld learning game next to him. "People need to empower themselves and create ownership of First Friday like that."

Some have already. Kathy Cone and Danny Montes, owners of the Cone Gallery, made several requests for more streetlights on Grand Avenue to keep prostitutes and drug dealers from lurking in the former darkness in front of their property. Fed up, they finally went out and purchased outdoor lighting on their own.

But even though their entrance is now well-lighted, don't expect to see it open this weekend, as Montes says they'll be keeping their door closed to the public until he can have an independent contractor come in to "see what's wrong and get us fully squared away." Their signature purple building, a former crack house, is in need of some upgrades, he says, including fixing wiring, a change of occupancy, and building restrooms compliant with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

Although no timeline has been announced for Grand Avenue, Scott Sanders, owner of the Paper Heart, feels prepared for the particular day when "education and enforcement" efforts reach his venue. He's already invested "plenty of cash" into ensuring the former car dealership housing his multipurpose art space and performance venue is up to code, appropriately zoned, properly permitted and licensed. He says he pays all his taxes.

"Still, there's always going to be that one thing you're always missing, and they'll find it," says Sanders. "There's only so much red tape you can go through before you realize you can't get or afford everything required."


Like a number of city officials, Mayor Phil Gordon was out of town on August 5. He learned of the evening's events on his Blackberry.

He wishes someone had called a meeting immediately.

"In hindsight, if we had met even Saturday morning or Sunday or Monday, a lot of misinformation on both sides could've been avoided," he says.

"This is growing pains that we've never experienced before, and while I regret the problems that occurred, we're still growing and probably will make more mistakes as we develop and grow a vibrant downtown," Gordon adds, pledging that the city leaders' goal will be not to make mistakes again and to rectify them when they do.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.