Culture News

Phoenix City Council to Vote on Roosevelt Row Housing Development Proposal

Phoenix City Council members will vote Wednesday, January 29, whether to approve a proposal to sell a city-owned lot at Roosevelt and Second streets to Roosevelt Housing Associates and approve RHA's proposal to build a mixed-use development, called The Row, and rehabilitate the historic Leighton G. Knipe House.

See also: Initial Redevelopment Plans Revealed for Phoenix's Hance Park

If approved, the housing portion of the development would include 56 to 75 units in buildings between three and five stories, with ground-floor resident amenities, offices, and live/work units. Between 80 percent and 85 percent of the units would be age- and income-restricted, meaning that leaseholders in such units would need to be 55 or older and not exceed a specified income level.

Additionally, the Knipe House would be revamped as a craft brewery and restaurant.

After taking community feedback on its original proposal, the developer has agreed to have approximately 15 percent to 20 percent of the units (about eight to 15 units) at market rate, with no age or income restrictions, creating a diverse, mixed-income project; require all tenants to sign an affidavit acknowledging they are moving into a vibrant arts district; develop street-level units as live/work artist studios; actively market the project to artists; and dedicate a portion of the common area space for local artists to prominently display their works.

This project proposal was chosen from four submissions: DAVIS/RoTwo (Mike Davis); Rainey Development LLC/Butler Housing Company Inc. (Wayne Rainey, Reid Butler); Roosevelt Housing Associates; and Urban Sol Development LLC (Feliciano Vera and partners).

The fact that the housing complex would be age-restricted has caused a kerfuffle.

In a mass e-mail sent Monday, January 27, Wayne Rainey, owner of Roosevelt Row's MonOrchid, shared his opinion on the City Staff-approved project. He wrote, "The possibility of AGE-RESTRICTED Housing, which would be irreversible for 30 years, could so quickly undo the momentum and alter the course of our Arts District forever." MonOrchid is located next to the lot at Roosevelt and Second streets.

In the same message, he also urged the city to restart the process and request new proposals, with mixed-use, mixed-income, and mixed-density housing, for the lot.

As noted above, Rainey had submitted a proposal for the lot. His vision included micro-apartments, 50 parking spots, an eatery installed in the Knipe House, a redesign of Second Street to connect Roosevelt Row to Hance Park, and a rooftop cinema at MonOrchid.

Rainey has a petition calling for the city to restart the proposal process and include more community members and nearby property owners in the discussion about what to do with the lot. As of this writing, it has 486 supporters.

Architect and former Phoenix resident Taz Loomans took to to pen a response in December 2013 to Rainey's ongoing petition. She also overviewed the potential project and explained her stance on the matter. "I urge you not to sign this petition," Loomans wrote. "It is riddled with false and sensational statements and is working against a project that promises to be very good for the future of downtown Phoenix."

Loomans went on, "Let's not stop the positive evolution of downtown because of false propaganda. This is a solid development that will help the area immensely. It may not be everything to everyone (what is?), but it is a big step forward and fills in a gap in a downtown with many gaps to be filled. Squashing this development will just mean squashing the forward momentum that is happening in downtown."

Whatever your opinion, Wednesday, January 29's City Council meeting is open to the public and begins at 3 p.m. at Phoenix City Hall. The vote on the lot's sale and the development of The Row is the 23rd item on the agenda that afternoon.

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