Are even the “bad” parts of Downtown being blessed by the revitalization fairies?
We’ve all heard the stories about the way Downtown Phoenix used to be. “You could shoot a cannonball Downtown and not hit anyone,” recalls Yvette Koebke, director of sales and marketing at the new Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown. When she heard the hotel was going up on the same block of the long-vacant Luhrs City Center, she thought the area seemed too dicey to attract high-level business guests. “I thought, what’s south of Jefferson?”
But Anaheim-based developer Hansji saw potential when it acquired the Luhrs block in 2007, sitting on the property through years of recession fallout before building the dual-branded hotel, which opened in May 2017. “It’s hard to believe Downtown is where it is now… you see life on the streets at night,” Koebke says.
Now, with little room left in the city center, developers are pushing boundaries, venturing south and east into old neighborhoods you’d once have advised visitors to avoid. Urban designer Tiffany Halperin bought her home in the Garfield Historic District (south of Roosevelt Street, east of Seventh Street) around 2003 – “pre-lightrail and pre-ASU [Downtown campus],” as she puts it. “My peer group thought I was looney-tunes,” she says, since “there was scary stuff – police, drug problems, violence.” Halperin estimates since the economy began rebounding around 2013, so too has the neighborhood. Welcome Diner – long one of the only “cool” dining establishments in the area – was joined by Mother Bunch Brewing and the new outpost of Gallo Blanco, plus millennial favorite Pueblo plant store.
Perhaps the most obvious rebound outside the central corridor has occurred in the Warehouse District, once home to big brick produce warehouses south of Chase Field. Sara Scoville-Weaver, business development manager for Downtown Phoenix Inc., says more than 250,000 square feet of warehouse space has been targeted for restoration and reuse since the final quarter of 2017. “The vast majority is for office tenants, specifically tech companies, accelerators… [who see] the beautiful old buildings and say, ‘Hey, this is the open, creative style we want.’” In the last year, Denver-based Galvanize Inc. opened its co-working campus on Grant Street, while social entrepreneur incubator SEED SPOT moved into a retrofitted 1926 warehouse nearby. Scoville-Weaver says the main things missing from the area are places for all the techies to shop and eat. But she’s not too worried. “It’s moving fast… it will catch up.”
PV Party Poopers
Seems like the Valley’s one-percenters are fed up with the transient Airbnb party crowd. Paradise Valley Town Council is taking up a proposed ordinance this month that would fine homeowners at least $1,000 if police are dispatched to shut down loud parties and order them to repay the police department for the officers’ time.
Which Valley city is the best bet for homebuyers in 2018? According to real estate site zillow.com, the distinction is shared by Avondale, Buckeye and Phoenix, each of which is forecast to enjoy a 2.9 percent spike in average home value (HVI) this year. The lowest? Scottsdale, at 1.4 percent.
With increased interest in a typical “urban” lifestyle comes a bevy of food and beverage concepts embedded in new residential buildings. Who says you can’t eat where you sleep?
Forno 301 at Muse
Weekly trips to Naples are an elevator ride away to Forno 301 at the upscale Muse apartments, across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum. Get wood-fired pizzas, panini, pastas, salads and, best of all, free parking in the Muse garage.
1616 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
The Casual Pint at Crescent Highland
Run out of beer halfway through a party? At Crescent Highland, you need only pop downstairs to The Casual Pint, where you can purchase mix-and-match six packs or large growlers of Arizona craft beer straight from the tap.
4626 N. 16th St., Phoenix
Fillmore Coffee Co. at Skyline Lofts Apartment Homes
Sunday morning coffee and pastry runs are a cinch at Fillmore Coffee Co., inside Skyline – chic, Manhattan-like lofts with floor-to-ceiling windows near Arizona State University’s Downtown campus. After a scone and a drip, fill up on açaí bowls and lunch goodies like butternut chicken wraps.
600 N. Fourth St., Phoenix
— Cody Fitzpatrick