Yes Grandma, we still have vacant lots around downtown Phoenix! Grimace as you may at what you call a “wasteland,” however be assured one woman’s half-glass empty, is another’s half-glass full!
Believe or not, empty spaces (some call it undeveloped land) have been the magic that has attracted pioneers with true grit, willing to risk everything in order to make dreams come since the beginning of all time. Phoenix, being a very young city albeit in the middle of a desert, has no shortage of such dreamers. Luckily for us some terrific parcels of dirt, just itching for someone’s dream to grow, sit waiting right in the heart of our city. We need not fear, whatever the motive may be, dreamers will continue to succumb to that age-old urge to BUILD.
What comes next, my dear, is not for the faint of heart! If your dream is exciting enough and you are willing to take a gigantic financial risk knowing you may lose your entire fortune, step up to the plate and pitch that first ball. Also, know everyone will have a stake in what you do, the government, the neighbors, the banks and all the players that live off of Phoenix’s largest industry, the big “C,” Construction. Someone else’s dream may be there too, just ready to collide with yours! Here’s a bet with your bottom dollar that you will be looking for all the help you can get.
With this in mind, it must be pointed out that Downtown Phoenix, in spite of what some may say, is looking pretty darned good. In the midst of this national recession, this year started out with a bang… METRO, our grand connector, launched with and continues to have growing ridership numbers that are way beyond our wildest expectations. And hey, that “schmancy” hotel you mentioned, the gorgeous new Sheraton Downtown Phoenix, broke all records for the number of room-nights filled at opening and it continues to hold market share in this very troubled, worldwide economy. Another big boost has been the expansion of Phoenix Convention Center turning it into a national showpiece that continues to win awards. It is Phoenix’s premiere LEED certified building. Phoenix should be proud that it is getting the job done, bringing in conventions and tourists who, by the way, add to Arizona’s economy statewide.
A few more minor mentions about downtown Phoenix…Arizona State University with that state-of-the-art Walter Cronkite College of Journalism, the College of Nursing and Health Care Innovation, the Taylor Place dorms and the improvements to Taylor Street, the Civic Space and the Janet Echelman sculpture…cool stuff! We are so jazzed!!
Oh yes, and the University of Arizona College of Medicine in partnership with ASU added its third class of medical students this fall. Also, located at the Phoenix Biomedical campus, TGen is infusing the economy with its outstanding research achievements. They are building Arizona’s future!
We have a total of about 700 housing units waiting for buyers, but feel confident that as the recession works its way through, urban lovers will be living here and loving it!. We do not feel these numbers are too daunting since they include our unsold high rise units, like Chateaux, 44 Monroe, Summit and even Century Plaza and individual foreclosures, bank-owned, short sales, etc. Thankfully, the economic fallout downtown is not as bad downtown as in some other cities and areas across the country.
Talk about excitement, we still have Cityscape, and it is on schedule! One Central Park East is looking real good. You’ll be hearing more about these outstanding projects soon. We have some 30 new restaurants/coffee shops in the greater downtown area too. Some will do well and others will struggle, but that is how life works. Dreams are coming true!
In answer to your question “Now what?” It is this. Someday, when I am gone, I’ll be looking down on Phoenix and at you gumming your way along Central Avenue. Maybe, I’ll hear your prayer that your grandson will be the successful developer of the biggest empty lot in the Central City, millions of square feet mixed-use, housing, office space, retail You’ll have a twinkle in your eye, and grandma, I’ll be smiling big!!!
P.S. Thanks for all that the New Times does for our community! You are truly a charitable contributor. Know it is appreciated! Just wondering if there are plans about developing and investing in those nearby acres? Dare to dream: artist housing, infill mixed use, mixed market-rate/affordable housing, museum, grocery store. What about it?