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9 Reasons the Face of Downtown Phoenix is Evolving in 2016


Some people are calling downtown Phoenix “The New Austin” with live music playing every night, cultural events, trendy restaurants & boutiques, dense millennial population and an overall “COOL” atmosphere. There is much more driving the evolution of downtown than currently meets the eye.

Here are just a few reasons downtown Phoenix is here to stay.

1. Arizona Center Remodel151125-Arizona-Center-01In December 2015, downtown Phoenix’s Arizona Center sold for $126 million. Located at the southeast corner of Third and Van Buren streets, Arizona Center has two 20-Story Office Towers, Open Air Retail, a 3.5 acre urban garden, a 24-screen AMC Movie Theater and over three acres of vacant land. The investment team, Parallel Capital Partners and Angelo, Gordon & Co, has decided to put an additional $25 million into expanding its retail space, adding parking and upgrading landscaping. Arizona Center was the first major retail project built in downtown Phoenix. Due to lack of shoppers several major retailers have closed stores throughout the years. Now with Arizona State University’s downtown campus, the growing restaurant and entertainment scene and the housing development boom more people are there to live, work, play…and stay.

2. ASU Law School Moves DowntownSandraDayOConnor_2The new ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law building will welcome law students and the public this fall. Arizona State University made the decision to move its law school downtown to encourage connectivity with the public. One of the features of the building design includes a public area through the center of the project called “The Canyon.” The focus is to merge the indoors and outdoors with a beautifully landscaped area, open to all. In addition, the law school will promote interaction with the public through its functioning law office run by recent ASU grads.

3. First Full-Service Grocery Storeblock23-grocerystoreFry’s Food Stores will open downtown Phoenix’s first full service grocery store. A proposed mixed-use development by RED Development would bring a 55,000-square-foot grocery store to the urban core. The project is planned between 1st and 2nd Street and Washington and Jefferson Street.
A downtown grocery store has been long-coveted by city leaders and residents of the community. This project is a sign of growth, livability and sustainability in the Phoenix core business district. The proposed multi-use development could also include creative office, traditional office and residential uses.

4. Multifamily Housing Has Arrived
TheMuse_feat_2It’s been a long time coming but the downtown Phoenix housing boom has arrived. More than 20 multifamily developments are complete or under construction in the core business district. These projects range from luxury penthouse condos to 500-square-foot studio apartments. One of Phoenix’s most sought after and prominent vacant lots will soon be the home to an upscale project called The Muse. The much anticipated development will have 367 apartments, a fitness center, yoga room, dog washing room, pool with Zen garden, car charging stations and an outdoor terrace with views of central Phoenix. Locally owned, Press Coffee Roasters, will be adding a location on the ground floor. Project delivery is scheduled for March 2017.

5. Reborn Warehouse Districtphxwdlogo-2At the turn of the century the Phoenix Warehouse District was a state economic hub. Produce from all of the state’s farms were warehoused there. Once considered a thing of the past, 18 full city blocks of undeveloped real estate is now a big part of the city’s future. Throughout the district, creative companies, event spaces and restaurants have been quietly breathing new life into its buildings, undergoing major rehab and renovations.
R&R Partners, an advertising company, renovated a warehouse on Buchanan Street to become their new office headquarters. Software companies, WebPT and Galvanize, are slated to bring 800 new employees to the area upon completion of a 120,000-square-foot building renovation. The amount of prosperity and change 800 people can bring to an area is unlimited. All of these employees will need places to eat, grab coffee or beer, residential options and forms of transportation. The first multifamily project in twelve years has been planned for the area with a 276-unit apartment complex.

6. Trendy Food Trucks Are Going Brick & Mortarrolloverdonuts-ecarpenter_2
Food trucks in the Phoenix area have done well since the last recession forced chef’s, restaurant owners and coffee barista’s to get creative with business ownership. Fast forward to 2016, Phoenix has a food truck festival and any given Friday you will find 10 to 20 food trucks with excited customers lined up outside their order windows for “Food Truck Friday”. Some of the more successful food trucks like Short Leash, Rollover Donuts and Pizza People have laid down roots with new downtown Phoenix locations.

7. Historic Hotel Celebrates Local Art, Culture & FoodFoundre_feat_2The former Lexington Hotel has been reinvented and is on-track to become a Phoenix destination in itself. Renamed FOUND:RE, the 105 guest room project will showcase the “who’s who” in Phoenix art, culture and food scene. The work and ideas of local artists will be incorporated into all aspects of the hotel. The restaurant MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails will feature globally inspired street food created from locally sourced products. Habitat Metro is planning for a late fall 2016 delivery.

8. Competing with Silicon ValleyTuft_Needle_2
Recently we have seen Tech companies and startups take residence in downtown Phoenix. Uber opened a support center in a long-time vacant building last year. DoubleDutch, an event apps company, opened its third Americas location in the Phoenix core business district. Tuft & Needle, a hip online mattress retailer, turned and old hardware store on the edge of downtown into their company headquarters. Financially it’s a no brainer, tech companies and startups have discovered downtown Phoenix as a fiscally sensible city to incubate or expand. The Silicon Valley option includes raising a ton of capital just to rent office space and most owners and employees would be forced to live in small, overpriced apartments. Setting up shop in downtown Phoenix allows for lower overhead costs, flexibility to live in larger homes with a pool, start families and maybe take a vacation or two.

9. $136 Million BioMedical BuildingBioScienceBuildingThis spring, the University of Arizona reached a construction milestone on the $136 million biosciences research building. The final beam on the 10-story Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building was placed during a construction ceremony. The building is the next addition to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a mastermind plan to bring innovative research and industry to Downtown Phoenix. All three state universities in Arizona have thriving programs on the campus.
In June, the University of Arizona received city approval to expand on up to five acres of land, including a facility developed with Banner Health.

What changes big or small are you seeing in Downtown Phoenix at the moment?

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