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October 27, 2014

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James made a good point the other day about midtown and downtown being interdependent. Unfortunately, the high-rise development outside downtown was never really organic but real-estate speculation in service of quick profits. It was allowed to happen outside downtown because anything seemed possible in those heady times. Later, the original downtown got myriad public inputs in the form of tax abatements, subsidized performance and sporting venues, and government buildings along with their impressive garages. Midtown, by contrast, has been dying a slow death as the market moved east to Camelback Road, then to Scottsdale, and now Tempe.

Imagine if Phoenix had a population of 250,000 in 1940. This would have meant a much larger footprint for downtown as it organically developed areas north of Roosevelt St. Many of the grand mansions along Moreland would have become integral to this downtown, either as worker apartments or as offices for snall law firms. Urban apartment blocks would have filled up Central Aveune up to Thomas Rd, which would have had its own retail infrastructure interwoven in the mix. Phoenix would have had the bones to absord the helter-skelter growth of the post-war period without creating a separate, autocentric downtown on north Central.

This counterfactual history of urban Phoenix sees a much denser residential component alongside a coherent business core. If that had developed prior to WWII, Phoenix might be much better situated to leverage its urban and architectural assets to attracts a young, creative class today. The civic devastation of the last 50-some years would have been averted because the city would still have an organic downtown instead of the artificial one of today dependent on infusions of public money. That money is required to substitute for the innumerable complexities of actual people in economic and social relationship to one another. Sadly, the real world no longer works in this free-market nirvana.

Phoenix's wrong turn in the 1950s means urban policy is being used to address unfixable problems. Scottsdale and Tempe have benefited greatly here from this fundamental misstep but the problems are no longer just those of downtown Phoenix alone. The region's overall economic performance will suffer for lack of a strong core. Parasites live well until their host dies, so the wealthy suburbs need Phoenix to succeed even if it means sharing their wealth with it. No one really cares about Evanston, Bellevue, Cos Cob, or Castle Rock. A metroplex without a strong core is an economic time bomb.

Flying to Phoenix in order to play golf in Scottsdale might make sense if this were a planet of Dan Quayles living in isolation from the hurly burly of the global economy. That paradigm was never really compelling but its usefulness is now a bad joke. Right-wing apartheid politics is the icing on this moldy cake. Ugly politics and weak urbanism go hand in hand.

The good intentions of city hall, its urban planners, the Resistance, and Phoenix's few civic stewards are not enough. We can define this problem but until people understand it fully, we will continue to do what is easiest until even that approach fails. Phoenix is in a crisis that a few subsidized buildings downtown cannot disguise. Positive thinking here is counterproductive. Phoenix, the actual city, is the manifest definition of denial.

Sad and true. Keep up the pressure, Jon

If you want to dig deeper, read the columns on "What Killed Downtown Phoenix":

http://www.roguecolumnist.com/rogue_columnist/2013/03/phoenix-101-what-killed-downtown-part-i.html

"Here's a project for Phoenix journalists: map every parcel of empty land in the Central Corridor, name the owner, trace the previous owners, and show us what once stood there, whether a useful commercial building, classic hacienda or lovely bungalow."

Brilliant.

To amplify what Soleri said: Populations pre WWII:
Phoenix (Metro)
1930 -----173k
1940 ----- 215
Seattle
1930 ---- 706
1940 ---- 776
Portland
1930 ---- 500
1940 ---- 553
Phoenix was simply too small to leave behind a legacy of good buildings – or bones as you would say here.

Phoenix grew too fast post WWII – population growth by decade:
Phoenix
1950-60 ---- 94%
1960-70 ---- 43%
1970-80 ---- 35%
Seattle
1950-60 ---- 28%
1960-70 ---- 28%
1970-80 ---- 14%

Portland
1950-60 ---- 15%
1960-70 ---- 23%
1970-80 ---- 24%

A third factor: no real geographical limits to sprawl. Post war, if a metro could sprawl it would.

By comparison:
Atlanta
1930 ----- 815k
1940 ----- 921
Birmingham
1930 ---- 616
1940 ---- 658
Both of which are much hipper than you might think

John, on the positive side, you've missed quite a few developments that are at least in the preliminary stages. I have a running list if anyone is interested. However, the downside is that none of the proposed projects break 5 stories, hardly ANY are mixed use (mixed use has now been assigned to apartments that use ground level space for LEASING OFFICES; talk about a head-scratcher!), and hardly any have broken ground while Tempe - who isn't the thriving urban savior of the Phoenix metro that it's made out to be - has broken ground on several 10+ story projects. The major issue is that, as I noted, light rail has essentially made downtown and midtown one giant central city, and these proposals stretch from the Warehouse District all the way to Highland (which has indeed broken ground). This would be terrific news if they were 12-story, mixed use buildings bringing much needed residential density and service retail to blighted areas. But, 3-5 story, one-use projects will add nothing to the vibrancy of the central city; it's just too diluted to make any real impact. And, if retail can't survive as mixed use on Central, we'll never have a walkable, serviceable inner city. To address three projects mentioned in the blog, 1) Lennar's project is the absolute worst of the entire list of proposed projects. On that giant piece of land, in the heart of what is supposed to be a secondary arts district, they've proposed a generic, suburban, 3-story complex with a parking lot fronting Central Ave. This is a lot that deserves towers of 8+ stories, with courtyards for Ballet Arizona to perform shows in, and public art woven into the facade... even a Miracle Mile deli on the ground level harkening back to the days when McDowell truly was a gateway worthy of such a name. But, no - no heart, no soul, not a thing has been poured into this project. It's insulting and it's sad. 2) Central Station is one of the worst examples of land use in recent times. Similar to Wells Fargo and other remnants of poor 80s design, this project takes an entire city block and fills it with 1 tower and a garage over office space. This is a lot that could theoretically support 4 towers, and instead will have 1, and will likely only address the street on 1 out of 4 sides, as the apartment entrance faces Polk which will be converted into a private drive. I should be glad offices are being incorporated into the garage, but I'm not. Mixed use garages should be a given (though the one being built right now on Fillmore/5th St shows it isn't), not something to celebrate. And, while the Chase Tower is not something I long for, the design of the apartment tower is completely outdated. Current trends are favoring sleek, narrow designs for residential and hotel buildings. And, here is a massive box blocking views of the park and of some of our most gorgeous architecture. 3) The saga of "hotel Monroe," now "Monroe Hilton Garden Inn" has become nothing less than a joke. I completely agree with each sentence, from the sad state that it can't be done without tax incentives, to the fact that it's going to be an f*ing HILTON GARDEN INN! Tempe is getting three boutique hotels (a Marriott AC, Kimpton, and Tempe Palms renovation), and we can't get a boutique or high class hotel inside that stunning building? The designs are horrific as well when compared to the original Hotel Monroe, which had several nightlife/retail establishments. Monroe has no retail, only a dropoff, and there is only one retail space along Central. At this point, I hope it goes through just so we don't lose the building or see it go to subsidized tenants, but what a freakin shame.

The Lennar project will do one very good thing by filling that gaping hole in Central Avenue's streetscape. Granted, it's not really urban and it's cheap construction. High-rise condos would have been more appropriate, although Willo's besieged Martha Stewarts would have screamed their heads off. But Phoenix is a cheap city and getting cheaper. It's why the wonderful Hotel Monroe project of Grace Communities is now going to be a Hilton Garden Inn. It's why you ultimately have to look at these half-assed infill projects with a forgiving eye. This isn't a great city we're talking about. It's Lubbock on steroids.

Go back 10 years and it all looked so different. A Boise investment group had bought the Central & McDowell parcel for $12.5 million. Two years later, they flipped it to the Tel Aviv group for $25 million who were going to build three 30-story condo towers. Now, Lennar has paid them the same amount the Boise group had originally. You can't help but wonder what magical world those real-estate players in Israel were living in.

During the boom, a condo conversion of a tired 10-year old downtown office building was canceled so something totally new could be built - a 34-story condo tower called 44 Monroe. Grace Communities was the developer and they "saw something", just as they did with Hotel Monroe Project, Chateaux on Central, and the Centerpoint condos in Tempe. The bankroller for these projects, Mortgages, Ltd, was a reliable investment vehicle for nearly 60 years. All these projects went into bankruptcy. They were the sort that define good if not great cities. The head of Mortgages, Ltd, Scott Coles, committed suicide in the aftermath of this implosion. It's one of the more poignant stories coming out of the bust because Phoenix was utterly exposed as a pretender, a city that relied on population statistics for its cachet as a can't-miss market.

Mood may be ethereal but its charms can turn sour over night. Remember, this was a city that spent 60 years on a upward trajectory and now can't gain altitude. I hesitate to say it's over but decades of civic vandalism and suburban values have taken their toll. Phoenix may improve here and there, but it will be very modest, at best. As I mentioned above, this is critical regional issue, too. All the happy talk and boosterism of the real-estate industrial complex would be better spent planning for a much different future than the one they envisioned.

That's the Luhrs Central Building at 132 S. Central.

The owner of the Luhrs Central Building property is Hansji Urban. The company is demolishing the building so that it can put a hotel there. No idea what kind of hotel (boutique or chain), or when the proposed redevelopment will move forward. But the city historic commission approved this plan back in 2008, with commissioner Donna Reiner actually calling it a "win-win" for the city and developer. I don't understand this logic, because the city is losing yet another treasured, historic property.
Here's the link to an article that appeared on AZCentral back in April 2008:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2008/04/29/20080429luhrs0529-ON.html

Interestingly, I interviewed the head of Hansji Urban in the spring of 2008 when I was a journalist working for a paper in downtown Boston. At the time, I was writing an article about his company's purchase of the Luhrs Tower and Luhrs Building, and I needed more information. He seemed like a decent guy -- he was very accessible and enthusiastic about his investment, and I respected his appreciation for historic properties. Well, that's what he told me, anyway. But, money talks, I guess.

James,

I much appreciate your contributions, but I want us to think harder about "light rail has essentially made downtown and midtown one giant central city..."

Downtown and Midtown are interdependent. And the light-rail line (WBIYB) improves potential connections. But if our discussion on the topic of this column is to maintain integrity, it requires geographic precision. And I don't see much happening in Midtown/Uptown -- certainly not driven by rising economic quality (a re-do of Uptown Plaza is not an Amazon urban campus). And what's happening downtown is disappointing.

The notion of "one giant central city" running to Highland makes things even more blurry, more difficult to focus policy on -- and it makes central Phoenix look even more pitiful compared with its peers (and yes, benchmarking is necessary).

Light rail's affect on transit-oriented development is a different topic. And a welcome one. The result of LRT on real TOD has so far been disappointing.

I read the Emerging Trends article and I was concerned that it did not mention schools.

I think there is a return to the urban areas for the young millenials, but I think they might confront the same decision that has driven multitudes of young people in urban areas to the suburbs. And that is that abesnt the resources to attend the elite inner city private schools, they will move to the suburbs because generally, the suburban schools are better.

I lived in the Lincoln Park area in Chicago in the early 90's and it was almost a given that once couples got married, it was just a matter of time before they would bounce out to the suburbs becuase of the schools. I don't know if that has gotten better in Chicago (or anywhere else)but unless it does, I think there's a good chance that the exodus might continue once the millenials get married and have kids.

Cities that expect to be viable must have good schools. This is critical.

But, some context: in 2010, 55 percent of families had no children under age 18 (60 percent for non-Hispanic white families). This number has been rising since the 1970s. So there's a big market for downtown and close-in residents.

I can't imagine a better place to raise baby goats ("kids") than a vibrant city. Or a worse place than the white-right apartheid suburbs — and their counterparts, the poorly funded public schools with majority-poor-minority enrollment. What a tragedy.

The social shift away from the pressure to marry and have children does support Rogue's belief that the trend toward city living will continue. Safer cities today, unlike large cities in the 1970's, will also encourage retirees to live in city.

My discussions with 20 something adults in various real cities, not Phoenix, suggest the move back to the suburbs to raise children remains a strong pull. Children need a lot of living space. Do cities like Seattle and other thriving urban venues have sufficient affordable family sized housing? The bones of many eastern cities don't allow for the space to develop significant affordable family sized housing. Suburban living will remain strong as long as oil producers are able to keep gasoline prices low enough to continue America's addiction to driving. Sadly, they are very good at doing so.

John, we don't disagree. By one central city running from Buckeye to Highland, I'm merely trying to prove that the problems of Midtown can't be ignored, as they have so often been. Midtown and Uptown are indeed part of the central city now, IMO, but that is still very much different than downtown. As part of the central city, they need to become dense, urban neighborhoods with mixed use, service retail on the street level. Instead, the offices are emptying out, the cool restaurants are packing up (FEZ is moving to Portland's old spot), and the housing proposals are single use, further promoting the use of the automobile by forcing people to go buy their daily goods at suburban locations. Downtown isn't healthy because it has a low vacancy rate - it simply leeched companies out of Midtown. It's health is dependent on a Midtown that finds a way to reidentify itself; I think that starts with rehabbing offices and building out the Central Ave frontage to include retail (see: Thomas/Central). Eventually, it will fill IF the housing proposals all go through. But, the light rail's connection is too important to ignore. Does that make sense? Central Ave has turned into a spine that should be moving people north and south with downtown as the epicenter, but instead, there's a giant web since goods/services can't be found on the line. That's not healthy.

As for McDowell, I would rather it sit empty and wait for the next buyer than to see 3 stories go up and a parking lot front Central. McKinley/4th St is getting a great 5-story project with live/work units on the ground level; yet, this prominent lot can't go above 3 stories? I understand it had to step down toward 1st Ave, but the Central/McDowell intersection should have been a grand welcoming to this supporting art node.

Lastly, the Luhrs Central Building is being demolished (the postal annex on 1st Ave will also be bulldozed at some point with future plans) for a dual-branded Marriott hotel. They're preserving the facade of the building for use in the future according to permits - where, I don't know. It won't be in the Marriott design, however. Overall, there are so many lots this could have gone and made the same impact, but given it's inevitable, it will at least bring more traffic to southern downtown to support the retail at CityScape and future retail at Barrister Place. I still get choked up thinking of the Madison and St James being demolished; this hotel will open up right to that empty lot. Imagine guests walking outside to restored hotels being used as breweries and dance clubs as an intro into the Warehouse District?

BTW, whatever hope of Jackson Street becoming an entertainment destination organically has been shot to hell. Jackson's on 3rd, a historic warehouse b uilt to suit restaurant use, is being gutted for a dental training facility. Nobody is going to walk that street with businesses lining it that turn their lights off at 5pm. A real shame.

Considering global warming and the fact that this is in fact the desert, shouldn't you "planners" be talking about going underground, not up.

You can't badmouth driving and the building of suburbs if you are going to promote another wrong headed approach.

That primitive man went underground and modern man goes up is a basic clue that modern man is at odds with the biosphere.

All excellent points, James. Thank you.

I would add: A real center-city economy is needed, beyond government and law firms and a few others.

Was rereading “Chaos, Making a New Science” by James Gleick (Highly Recommended) and came across this passage regarding architecture:

“Architects no longer care to build blockish skyscrapers like the Seagrams Building in New York, once much hailed and copied. To Mandelbrot and his followers the reason is clear. Simple shapes are inhuman. They fail to resonate with the way nature organizes itself……”
“A geometrical shape has a scale, a characteristic size. To Mandelbrot, art that satisfies lacks scale, in the sense that it contains important elements at all sizes. Against the Seagram Building, he offers the architecture of the Beaux-Arts, with its sculptures and gargoyles, its quoins and jamb stones, tis cartouches decorated with scrollwork, its cornices topped with cheneaux and lined with dentils. A Beaux-Arts paragon like the Paris Opera has no scale because it has every scale. An observer seeing the building from any distance finds some detail that draws the eye. The composition changes as one approaches and new elements of the structure come into play.”

I think the same could be said of a craftsman style house.

Please no more glass boxes.

Ruben, Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
If you persist with nonsensical noises
they will not renew your blog permit.
Did U not see the Keep quiet, Genius's at work, sign?

"I would add: A real center-city economy is needed, beyond government and law firms and a few others."

Yes - I mentioned this is in the 'Young Phoenix' thread; downtown's economy is downsized law firms from midtown, the County who destroys everything in its path, and a few Biomedical jobs that happened before the new mayor decided a SECOND Bio center was needed near Mayo.

A campus near Lincoln for a Sustainability research hub and high school, in collaboration with Arizona Commerce Authority (to determine what's needed to bring in startups and out of state companies) and Phoenix College (to offer classes to those in the Parks neighborhood and to provide academic resources like libraries) would be a huge boon. Cheap land/buildings, the desire and need for sustainable practices, etc.

Even the dental facility is good in theory; it just should have been built a mile or two south. Lincoln > Buckeye should be developed into these microhubs of employment and education for industries expected to grow (both dental and sustainability are two of them). Once national/regional companies are attracted, they can locate in downtown proper, but we need the upfront synergies of common causes to make any head way. /pipe dream

http://grist.org/cities/behind-every-crumbling-downtown-is-a-billionaire-who-wants-to-save-it/

We Who Are Not Billionaires have a tough task in advancing our ideas upon a recalcitrant urban form. Back in the late '80s, Phoenix had taken a breather from its relentless boom. Terry Goddard - then mayor of Phoenix - asked for citizen input in public discussions called the Futures Forum. What did we want the city to become? Lots of well-meaning types, myself included, participated. As you might imagine, it quickly got mired in the sludge of democratic exercise. Our competing opinions vied for primacy but the only opinions that really mattered were those that had significant economic interests behind them.

I mention this only because we can get lost in our own What Ifs. It's the first casualty of playing the Sim City game. I never bought a lottery ticket but I still had my jackpot fantasies, such as building thousands of apartments on north Central. Today, it almost appears as if the magic moment has arrived when the market is finally responding to my fervent desire.

But it won't be perfect. Despite light rail, people will still mostly drive. The apartments will be suburban in nature. Large gaps will still haunt this city's signature street. Retail will be more miss than hit. Real mixed-use projects will be few and far between.

That said, something good is going to happen in spite of the imperfections. More people will be living in central Phoenix. More people will ride light rail. More people will identify with urban values rather than suburban ones. It will not be perfect, let alone enough, but it will be better.

Any city is an arbitrary collection of maddening facts. Why did they build that? Why didn't they do this instead? Every city I go to arouses this curiosity in me. But there's no mysterious answer behind this stuff. Time, geography, luck, and opportunity are the reasons. I wish Phoenix had a better set of reasons but the only ones that matter are the ones whose concrete logic is implacably set before our questioning eyes.

I hope to return to Phoenix in January. I rag on my hometown like a jilted lover but I still love it in my neurotic fashion. My timeline is too short to fixate on the What Ifs, however. I'll pay my respects and then do the only decent thing I can: leave again.

Cal Lash sometimes moves his replies to the current thread. I'm going to do the same with this one. My apologies: this is not a hijack.

cal lash wrote:

"I do not believe for a minute that 40 percent (of Nader voters) would have voted for Bush had Nader not run (in the U.S. presidential election of 2000)."

First, the ballot-level study in question refers to Florida ballots, not nationwide, since that is the state Nader is supposed to have spoiled by virtue of the closeness of the popular vote tally for Gore and Bush.

Second, a ballot level study uses the actual ballot images, which are marked with (a) Who the voter voted for, and (b) the political party affiliation marked by the voter. So, you don't need to believe in anything. From the study:

"Unlike surveys and ecological data, ballot images directly reveal voting behavior in its most raw form, unmitigated by hindsight, social desirability, or other intervening affects. Ballots record what voters truly did in a voting booth (of course, what a voter did the ballot booth may differ from what she intended to do). . . We analyze a collection of 2.95 million Florida county general election ballot images maintained by the National Election Study. This NES ballot image archive contains a (nearly) complete records of all ballots cast in ten counties."

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/lewis/pdf/greenreform9.pdf

This is why evidence is important, instead of just assuming that Nader is liberal and therefore everyone who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore if Nader hadn't run. Again, the CBS exit poll actually shows that Bush would have gained MORE votes had Nader not run.

True, this is not conclusive: but put these together along with some other nuances that the study linked to above doesn't fully consider in its conclusions, e.g., 308,000 registered Democrats voted for Bush in Florida, so the Democrats who did vote for Nader aren't a lock-in for Gore had Nader not been running; and the fact that many of Nader's non-Republican, non-Democratic voters wouldn't have voted for Gore anyway, even if Nader hadn't been running; and you have SERIOUS questions about whether Nader helped Bush or Gore more or hurt them about the same.

Don't forget also that whereas the popular vote difference between Bush and Gore was just 537 votes, 562 voters voted for the Socialist Workers Party candidate in Florida, and another 1,804 voted for the Workers World Party candidate; so by the "common sense" argument both of these were spoilers too, though it's questionable at best whether such voters would have opted for Gore rather than stayed at home had their own party candidates not been running.

Also posted here:

http://www.roguecolumnist.com/rogue_columnist/2014/10/the-same-sex-marriage-moment.html

Why Democrats, not Ralph Nader and his voters, lost Florida and the election for Gore:

"Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 1 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered."

http://www.salon.com/2000/11/28/hightower/

The Salon article contains a typo: that should read "If Gore had taken even 10 percent..." (not "1" percent).

Mr. Talton wrote:

"This year, Seattle's core has seen 100 buildings permitted, under construction or recently completed. In central Phoenix, by my count, there's the proposed skyscraper above, the University of Arizona's 10-story research building on the Phoenix Biosciences Campus, the ASU college of law, and a 368-unit Lennar apartment complex in lower Midtown."

There are some other commercial buildings going up in the "core" (however that's defined). A few of them are listed at the following link. That said, I don't think there is any question whatsoever that Seattle's downtown areas are much healthier than Phoenix's. But Phoenix isn't about its downtown:

"(In Phoenix) commercial building plans also shot up, hitting 1,246 in fiscal 2014 from 803 in fiscal 2013."

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/08/28/phoenix-new-buildings-downtown-development/14742611/

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Phoenix barely merits a shrug in the industry's most consequential and respected forecast, the latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate, released last week."

It's difficult for me to evaluate this statement, since the report itself is taking more than 10 minutes to download. What standards are used? Residential? Commercial? Both? Price increases? (Many of the cities you listed have expensive markets.) Number of units? If I manage to get and examine a copy I may have more to say.

OK, the Emerging Trends In Real Estate download came through. Some observations:

Phoenix rates 26 out of 75 in Exhibit 3-1 "U.S. Markets to Watch: Overall Real Estate Prospects". That places it at the cusp of the top third in the nation. The three primary standards used are "investment, development, and homebuilding". Note that Phoenix scores higher in some of these categories than other cities further up the chart: Phoenix's place is a result of the weighted average of all three.

See also Exhibit 3-3, Three-Year Population Growth in Urban Center, by Overall Real Estate Prospects, where Phoenix ranks in the high "Good" range with over 4 percent population growth in its urban center.

Also see Exhibit 3-7 U.S. Industrial Property Buy/Hold/Sell Recommendations, where Phoenix rates in the top 20 (16th) for industrial property "Buy" recommendations.

Also see Exhibit 3-9 U.S. Office Property Buy/Hold/Sell Recommendations, where Phoenix again rates in the top 20 (17th) for office property "Buy" recommendations.

There's more, but that should suffice to make the point that the report you linked to is far more sanguine about Phoenix's prospects than you suggest.

Emil based on the propenderous over whelming numerical statistical data you provided. I agree.
However being the deeply emotional animal I am my gut tells me that had Nader not ran a different psychological effect might have played out in Flordia And the voices on the wind at the time whispered to me that Osama Bin Laden would have not moved forward with 911 as with a Bush win he was insured the beginning of a holy war that would eventually financially ruin it's western enemies.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Here's a project for Phoenix journalists: map every parcel of empty land in the Central Corridor, name the owner, trace the previous owners, and show us what once stood there, whether a useful commercial building, classic hacienda or lovely bungalow. Now it's all sun-blasted nothing being held as a tax write-off by land bankers from places around the world."

This chap agrees with you: land in downtown Phoenix is expensive and land-banking is the culprit:

http://www.downtownphoenix.com/blog/2010/02/grow-from-the-ground-up/

The big difference is that he seems to assume that City of Phoenix is the dominant land-banker, not absentee investors from the midwest or China or whatnot.

Are there any figures assessing the percentage of undeveloped downtown land owned by the City of Phoenix, or anything approximating it?

Because, it would be much easier to put political pressure on a single, local municipal authority than it would be to either track down numerous private owners or to attempt to get the City of Phoenix to pass enforceable legislation motivating such private owners to either sell or develop.

Are you sure that the main problem isn't simply the City of Phoenix administration itself, sitting on tons of prime, undeveloped downtown land in the vague expectation of growth in land values, to be cashed in...when? Maybe they're mainly receptive of Big Offers for Big Projects which aren't as common as they might prefer?

Also, exactly how much land is land-banked in the city core this way, expressed either as acreage or better still as a percentage of the total?

Phoenix.gov has a tool where you can see who owns each parcel of land; the City and County do own a TON of land in the downtown area. The City, for example, now owns almost 100% of the empty lots in Evans Churchill - saving them for a Biomedical Campus that will never come (or at least never make it to full build out). It also owned 2/3 of the land over at the Barrister site that it just RFP'd out, 2nd Street from Roosevelt to Portland (including the historic Knipe House), the vacant wasteland that was the Pappas School on 4th Avenue, etc. It really is quite an absurd amount of land that they own - that's without considering the land near Fillmore/McKinley which may technically belong to ASU, but will revert to City ownership if not developed within a certain timeframe.

Whoa !!

Reincarnation is real.

Jon Talton came back as Yoohun Jung in an article in the Republic.

Apparently, handsome good looks do not transfer during the reincarnation process. Yoohan keeps his back to the camera.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/11/01/soul-phoenix/18285573/

Here is the article Ruben is referring to
"where is the soul of Phoenix"

I came across this in a Sunday, November 2 column by Catherine Reagor in the Arizona Republic Business section:

"Phoenix lost the most construction jobs of any metro area in the nation during the past year, according to a new report...released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America."

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