Category Archives: North Central Corridor

Metro Phoenix Home Prices Rising Fastest in Affordable Neighborhoods

If you’re one the fence about buying a home in Phoenix, it’s time to get off. It’s been a long, hard road to recovery for metro Phoenix’s boom-and-bust-battered housing market, but it’s back, and then some.

Real Estate,Sold,Laura B,Historic,Phoenix,Homes,Real Estate,neighborhood,districtsBut some Valley neighborhoods are there, back to 2006 price levels, and higher and other neighborhoods are very close. 

As expected, millennial first-time homebuyers are propelling the recovery. 

Metro Phoenix home prices are rising the fastest in many of its most affordable, centrally located neighborhoods, from downtown Phoenix to central Mesa, where young buyers want to live and can afford houses.

2017 was a good year for the housing recovery in the Phoenix area. Almost one-third of the Valley’s ZIP codes posted double-digit-percentage increases in prices last year, according to The Arizona Republic/azcentral Street Scout Home Values report.

Street Scout is azcentral’s neighborhood and housing site that provides property valuations, home sales data, real estate news and listings.

Street Scout exists to make our community stronger, more informed and more connected. We’re a news organization with deep roots here, but we’re also a modern media company that’s pushing the boundaries of what we think about when we say “content.” Stunning real estate photography, comprehensive neighborhood guides, accurate, timely data and expert analysis provide you with what you need to find the best place to call home. 

But there is concern buyer demand for affordable homes is beginning to outpace the supply. And there’s always worry in Arizona about the possibility of another housing bust when prices climb for a few years. 

Phoenix, AZ Recession Rebound

In nearly 30 Phoenix-area neighborhoods, prices have rebounded to 2006 levels or even higher, data from The Information Market shows.

Most of those areas still have median home prices below $300,000.

“Last year was a strong one for the Valley’s housing market, particularly the more affordable neighborhoods closer in,” said Tina Tamboer, senior housing analyst with the Cromford Report. “Only 2004, ’05 and 2011 were better years for home sales, and those weren’t normal years.”

The housing boom inflated home prices and sales between 2004 and 2006, and then investors drove up sales as foreclosures climbed and prices plummeted from 2010 to 2012. 

Home prices have doubled in many Phoenix-area neighborhoods since the bottom of the market. Besides the 30 ZIP codes where home prices have bounced back from the crash, values in another 40 neighborhoods are within 10 percent of recovering.

Fastest-growing home prices In the Phoenix Metro Area

Aysia Williams and Benjamin Hughes rented in downtown Phoenix’s historic Woodland historic district for about a year before deciding to buy their first home.

“We fell in love with the area, but saw prices and rents climbing fast,” Williams said. “We knew we wanted to buy, but there was a lot of competition for the houses we liked.”

Woodland is part of the 85007 ZIP code,one of central Phoenix’s more affordable neighborhoods. The area, which has also attracted many investors, saw its overall median home price climb 10 percent to more than $192,000 in 2017. Sales in the area jumped nearly 20 percent last year.

Home prices in their neighborhood on the western side of downtown have rebounded from the crash and are almost 2 percent higher than they were in 2006.

Aysia and Benjamin were so lucky and bought from their wonderful neighbor, who didn’t want to sell to an investor.

The couple’s house, for which they paid less than $250,000 a few months ago, wasn’t even listed for sale.

People talk about the gentrification of central Phoenix pricing too many first-time buyers out. But more high-end home sales in the area help other more affordable areas like Woodland and Coronado Historic District improve, too.

Buying a house in the hot 85007 neighborhood of Phoenix included graffiti art in the backyard of Ben Hughes and Aysia Williams’s home.

‘First-time homebuyer market is exploding in Phoenix, AZ’

Stephanie Silva and Billy Horner moved to Chandler, AZ, from Chicago for the warmth last March.

“We wanted to rent first to see if we liked the area and a ‘shovel-free life,’ ” said Silva, who works in Tempe. Horner works in downtown Chandler.

The couple recently bought a home for under $275,000 in the central Mesa, AZ ZIP 85210, almost halfway between their jobs. Prices in the still-affordable neighborhood climbed 9 percent, and sales rose 38 percent last year. 

Home values just rebounded back to 2006 levels in their neighborhood, where the median price is about $215,000. 

“We are on a quiet, cozy block in a home with a pool and a yard,” Silva said. “So far, it is everything these Midwest transplants could ask for.”

The couple’s real-estate agents said if more people don’t decide to sell in the popular, affordable neighborhoods closer in, then it will soon get even tougher for first-time buyers.

The first-time homebuyer market is exploding. So many people are done with renting and dealing with landlords,” Matthew Coates said. “But we are seeing a deficit of homes available.”

The number of Valley homes for sale priced under $350,000 is down almost 20 percent from last year, according to the Cromford Report.

Some potential buyers are giving up

Nils and Heather Hofmann began looking for a home midway between their jobs in Deer Valley and Chandler more than a year ago. Their budget was $300,000.

The couple, who was renting in north-central Phoenix, put their home search on hold last fall after seeing dozens of houses. The ones they liked usually sold before they could get an offer in.

“I think we must have seen more than 80 houses,” Heather Hofmann said. “We wanted to buy where we were renting, but prices were too high.”

The couple decided to stop looking for a while late last summer because it became too frustrating. But then they found out Heather was pregnant, resumed their search and upped their price to $400,000.

The Hofmanns bought a home last month in north Phoenix’s Desert Ridge neighborhood, close to several freeways for their commute.

The median home price in the Desert Ridge area is about $485,000, up 5 percent from 2016.”

Looking farther outside of Phoenix Proper for Real Estate to Buy

The metro Phoenix suburbs farthest out were hardest hit by the crash and have been the slowest to recover. 

But both sales and prices are again climbing in those areas, including the West Valley suburbs of Goodyear, Surprise and Buckeye and southeast Valley areas of Queen Creek and Maricopa.

The median home price in the Buckeye ZIP code 85326 is up almost 10 percent from last year to $192,000. But the area’s home values are still about 19 percent off the 2006 peak.

Will 2018 be the year for Phoenix?

Metro Phoenix home prices continue to climb in most neighborhoods.

The median Valley home price is now about $253,000, up from $235,000 a year ago.

Some homeowners and national market watchers see price increases in the Valley and are concerned about another bubble.

“The housing market is very solid now. But there’s nothing that shows we are heading for another crash.

Metro Phoenix’s December 2017 median price of $250,000 is still below the high of $260,000 from 2006.

Housing market watchers say 2018 could be better than 2017 for prices and sales.

Whether this is the year the area’s median market reaches that 2006 level depends on whether first-time buyers can find homes they can afford.

“Either low inventory numbers for homes for sale will restrict sales because buyers can’t find houses in their price range or Millennials, the driving force behind our market, will be able to and decide to buy,” said Tom Ruff, housing analyst with The Information Market, owned by the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.

“That, coupled with an improving economy, will lead to increased sales in 2018,” he said.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in Central or Downtown Phoenix, or just have some questions about anything at all in or about any one of the historic districts in Phoenix, I’d be very happy to help you! Just call or email me anytime.

Historic Phoenix Sees Major Rejuvenation ‘Between the Sevens’

Some of Phoenix’s most desirable neighborhoods to live can be found in an area that’s commonly referred to as “between the sevens,” which is the region between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street throughout Downtown, Midtown and Uptown Phoenix.  

Home to historical neighborhoods like “The Windsor,” prominent office buildings and iconic retail centers, the area between the sevens is also becoming an increasingly attractive place to work and play as new commercial real estate projects take shape, blending modern needs with the area’s rich history.  

The latest projects range from adaptive reuse transformations of a former grocery store and other businesses into multifamily communities or trendy bars and restaurants. It also includes the modernization of older office buildings to meet current standards with lots of natural light, high ceilings, large open floorplates and easy connection to amenities.

Whether its people or companies, everyone is looking for a connected place that’s walkable, vibrant and linked to other amenities and uses, says City of Phoenix Economic Development Director Christine Mackay.  

In addition to providing great transit options such as light rail, buses and the Grid Bike Share program to get around, Midtown and Uptown also boasts incredible dining and shopping options as well as prime office locations for major corporate companies.  

Mackay says the rejuvenation of Midtown started in 2016 when Banner Health moved its corporate headquarters to the Banner Corporate Center on Thomas and Central Avenues.  

Banner retrofitted an old building, bringing it to the 21st century, explains Mackay, which signaled to other large corporate tenants that the area and surrounding communities would support regional and/or national headquarters.  

From there, the 2828 North Central building renovated its bottom floor to include a co-working shared space that’s currently occupied by Mod Phoenix. Meanwhile, the owners of the 2020 On Central building renovated all of its lobbies and shared spaces, which eventually led Facility Source to lease office space.  

“Those three things really set the stage for other building owners to come in and start making dramatic changes,” Mackay says.  

Now, Midtown is experiencing office renovations across the board because so many of the existing buildings were constructed in the 1970s and 80s.  

Mackay also describes an incredible and growing demand to live in Midtown and Uptown. “It’s cultured. It has night life, distinctive dining and pretty much everything is local. It’s exactly what people are looking for today,” she says. 

In addition to new office product and multifamily units, the area between the sevens has also seen a surge in new retail projects as it’s becoming more widely well-known as a foodie hotspot with an eclectic and tasty mix for restaurants and bars.  

Mackay says, “The restaurants, culture and nightlife is really what’s drawing people into this Central City to live.” In fact, she says, there are not less than 100 restaurants in that area for people to choose from.  

Mackay points to the success of projects like The Yard, along Seventh Street and Missouri Avenue, as an example of the pent-up demand for restaurants nearby, which has spurred other retail and dining destinations to follow like The Colony, built by LGE Design Build in 2016.  

Looking ahead throughout Midtown, Mackay says, the renovations of Park Central Mall is “the last missing piece before the area returns to full throttle.” Meanwhile in Uptown, she predicts, the completion of Arrive Phoenix will “really prove the market and show what a destination hotel looks like in that area.”  

ARRIVE Phoenix

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DEVELOPER: Vintage Partners; Venue Projects 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Venue Projects 

ARCHITECT: Arrive Hotel & Restaurants  

LOCATION: 400 & 444 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix  

SIZE: 45,000 SF; 79-rooms 

VALUE: $20M 

START/COMPLETION: Q1 2018 – Q4 2018 

Located at what’s been called the Valley’s “hottest intersection” by the Urban Land Institute of Arizona, the project transforms a trio of mid-century gems into Uptown Phoenix’s newest dining, entertainment and urban hotel hub. The two-acre site will also host a boutique coffee shop, poolside taco bar, gourmet ice creamery, and nautical-themed rooftop craft cocktail bar featuring 360-degree city views. For the project, Vintage Partners teamed up with Venue Projects, the visionary developers behind The Newtown and other successful adaptive reuse projects like Windsor/Churn and The Orchard along Central Avenue. 

First Place-Phoenix

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DEVELOPER: First Place AZ 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: hardison/downey construction 

ARCHITECT: RSP Architects  

LOCATION: 3001 N. Third St., Phoenix  

SIZE: 81,525 SF; 56-units 

VALUE: $15M 

START/COMPLETION: January 2017 – March 2018 

The $15 million residential property for adults with autism and other neuro-diversities will be a first-of-its-kind facility that First Place AZ plans to expand into a worldwide model. First Place AZ Founder, President and CEO Denise Resnik started the nonprofit to ensure that housing and community options are as bountiful for people with autism and other neuro-diversities as they are for everyone else. The project provides a one-of-a-kind approach that combines apartments, a residential training program and a national leadership institute to advance more independent and community integrated living options. 

The Curve at Melrose

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DEVELOPER: P.B. Bell 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: M.T. Builders 

ARCHITECT: Studio 15 Architecture Inc. 

LOCATION: 4333 N. Sixth Dr., Phoenix 

SIZE: 204-units; 308,618 SF 

START/COMPLETION: August 2016 – Early 2018 

The Curve will consist of 204-luxury apartments in a vibrant and eclectic urban Melrose District neighborhood positioned within walking distance of Indian Steele Park, light rail as well as numerous locally owned shops and restaurants. Included in the property’s luxury amenities are several that were selected by public vote in 2015, which include a resort-style pool and spa along with an outdoor kitchen and gas grills. P.B. Bell also worked with the Seventh Avenue Merchants Association on plans to reserve three display windows at the property to spotlight community-curated work and displays. 

The Osborn

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DEVELOPER: Trammell Crow Company; High Street Residential 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Chasse Building Team 

ARCHITECT: ESG Architects 

LOCATION: SWC of Seventh Avenue & Osborn Road, Phoenix 

SIZE: 190-units; 45,000 SF (retail) 

START/COMPLETION: July 2017 – August 2019 

The Osborn is a mixed-use grocery anchored retail shopping center and multifamily development. The project sits on a 5.96-acre site located in the heart of Midtown Phoenix where the city’s oldest Bashas’ grocey store, originally built in 1956, used to be located. The site benefits from immediate adjacency to many major employers, desirable affluent neighborhoods, abundance of social venues and high visibility with over 50,000 vehicles passing per day. 

Uptown Plaza

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DEVELOPER: Vintage Partners 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Kitchell 

ARCHITECT: Nelsen Partners 

LOCATION: 100 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix 

SIZE: 116,787 SF 

START/COMPLETION: 2014 – June 2016 

The Valley’s first retail center located outside of Downtown Phoenix is being restored to its former glory and street appeal as a result of wall-to-wall renovations over the last three years. The property’s renovation aims to restore this iconic shopping center — originally constructed in 1955 by the Del Webb Co. — to its stylish brick-lined, mid-century roots and appeal. The 11-acre renovation includes restoring the original brick façade, adding new landscaping and successfully securing a variety of local, regional and national tenants like Shake Shack, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Huss Brewing Company’s flagship taproom, Creamistry, Flower Child and more. The latest phase included updates to the exterior of AJ’s Fine Foods. 

The Grid

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DEVELOPER: ABI Multifamily 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Alexander Building Company 

ARCHITECT: Corgan 

LOCATION: 5227 N. Seventh St., Phoenix 

SIZE: 16,281 SF 

VALUE: $3M 

START/COMPLETION: Q4 2017 – Q2 2018 

The two-story adaptive reuse project will transform the former Uptown Phoenix office building into a refreshed Class A office for ABI Multifamily on the top floor and co-working space on the first floor. A large multipurpose room will be used for entertaining, training and a yoga room open to the community. The design repurposed raw industrial materials, while still maintaining a sleek modern feel. In addition, a perforated metal canopy and second skin will be added to create new dynamic exterior spaces while protecting the building from the harsh summer sun of the desert. 

Dignity Health Third Avenue Parking Garage Expansion

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DEVELOPER: Dignity Health 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: JE Dunn Construction 

ARCHITECT: GLHN Architects & Engineers  

LOCATION: 2929 N. Third Ave., Phoenix 

SIZE: 177,000 SF 

VALUE: $11M 

START/COMPLETION: December 2017 – July 2018 

While the area’s public transit options like buses, light rail and Grid bikes have made commutes easier, parking is often a top-concern for companies and tenants considering a move to the Central City. That’s why the Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix is embarking on a campus-wide parking solution that will add approximately 500 new spaces. 

Park Central

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DEVELOPER: Plaza Companies; Holualoa Companies 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: DPR Construction 

ARCHITECT: richärd+bauer architecture 

LOCATION: 3121 N. Third Ave., Phoenix 

SIZE: 337,000 SF 

VALUE: $57M 

START/COMPLETION: Q4 2017 – Fall 2018 

“Our goal is to transform Park Central into a truly innovative and exceptional work environment for companies in the ‘New Economy,’” says Sharon Harper, president and CEO of Plaza Companies, which also led the the successful transformation of the Los Arcos Mall in Scottsdale into the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center – SkySong. As Phoenix’s first-ever mall, Park Central benefits from an exceptional location and unique retail history. In total, 337,000 square feet will be revitalized into several distinct districts, each with its own identity.  

If you are interested in a free consultation to see if buying a Phoenix home is a better option for you, please call or email me today. You may be surprised at what you learn. I have access to programs that offer down-payment assistance with money you do not have to pay back. 

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in Central or Downtown Phoenix, or just have some questions about anything at all in or about any one of the historic districts in Phoenix, I’d be very happy to help you! Just call or email me anytime.

8 Metro Phoenix Neighborhoods You Should Know

For a long time, Metropolitan Phoenix felt distant and had been sorely ignored around the middle. Today that’s not the case. The hottest real estate on the market is smack in the center of town and that emerging historic Phoenix neighborhood you had your eye on is suddenly out of reach. We’ve combed the not-so-mean streets of our city to find eight neighborhoods you might not have heard of and that you definitely need to know more about.

While we’re celebrating these gems, we haven’t forgotten the implications of gentrification and urban development. So we’d like to invite you to be part of the discussion of how Phoenix is developing; what neighborhoods have it right, which are on the wrong path, and what can we do to preserve the past, respect current residents, and create a vibrant future for our city.

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Floralcroft
Boundaries: State Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, 59th Avenue, and 61st Avenue, Glendale
Median home price: $140,000
Origin story: Flora Mae Gillett-Statler founded this neighborhood in 1928 and named it after herself. Ten years later, she founded the town of Surprise.
Why it’s emerging: It’s hard to find a bargain in the Phoenix historic housing game, and these homes have the bones and character to rival way more expensive counterparts in Willo, Encanto, and F.Q. Story.

Long before the age of personal branding, hashtags, and celebrity endorsements, Flora Mae Gillett-Statler did something exceptional. She put her name on a west-side neighborhood. In the early 1900s, the daughter of a pioneering clergyman and land speculator made her mark on the Valley by investing in real estate. She founded a town and a neighborhood, naming the latter after herself.

In 1890, Flora was born in Missouri to Rachel and Charles E. Gillett, an old-school multi-hyphenate who brought his family to Glendale, making them among early city residents. Among other things, Charles was a service-station owner, real estate investor, and friend to Arizona’s first governor, George W.P. Hunt.

One of five siblings, Flora married Luther Ward Statler in 1911 and had two children, Vernon and Elizabeth, eventually known as Bette Stofft, a prominent Valley philanthropist and artist.

After World War I, Flora’s father, Charles, opened a service station in Glendale with Homer C. Ludden, with whom he also worked in insurance and real estate. Drawn to speculation, Flora worked at the station and her father’s office. Eventually, she took the reins in Charles’ real estate business, and by the late 1920s, she was ready to branch out and make her own investments. In 1928, she platted an 83-lot neighborhood just north of downtown Glendale and named it Floralcroft.

It’s unclear when she and Statler separated, though public documents note that he spent a lot of time away from home due to business pursuits, including mining. Flora went on to marry her father’s business partner, Ludden, who until 2010 was erroneously credited with founding the town of Surprise. That was actually Flora, who also named the town. (She subdivided land in El Mirage and Yarnell, too.)

Flora resided in her neighborhood — first in a two-story brick house that served as a model to entice potential buyers and later in a Norman cottage revival that happens to be on the market currently — until her death from breast cancer in 1953.

Today, Floralcroft has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, thanks to its decades-spanning architectural styles, including ranch, bungalow, and late 19th- and 20th-century revivals. Take a drive through the neighborhood, wedged between Caitlin Court and Northfield, and you’ll find sidewalks lined with black street lamps and charming homes in red brick and pink stucco with original crank windows and white wood siding.

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Eastlake Park In Central Phoenix
Boundaries: Van Buren Street, Jackson Street, 12th Street, and 16th Street
Median home price: $359,900 (based on one home for sale as of press time)
Origin story: A segregated African-American community arises around Phoenix’s oldest park
Why it’s emerging: Recent renovations, a new community grant, and modern-day cultural significance

If you’re unfamiliar with Eastlake Park, there’s a strong chance you’re not alone — and an even stronger chance you’re, well, white. That’s because, for the majority of its existence, Eastlake Park has served a predominantly African-American community. And while those who have lived, worked, or possibly attended civil rights rallies there may already understand the area’s significance, for everyone else who’s unsure as to what Eastlake Park means or even where it’s located (hint: there’s no actual lake at this point), we need to look back at the neighborhood’s history.

Eastlake Park, formerly Phoenix Park, was established in 1890 by Moses Sherman and later purchased by the city of Phoenix in 1914. During its early-20th-century development, Eastlake Park and the surrounding neighborhood of the same name, along with areas in west and south Phoenix, became home to Phoenix’s black community.

This had less to do with choice and more to do with a lack of opportunity for African-Americans. Between limited funds, increasing segregation, and later an all-out combined effort from banks, real-estate agents, and lending agencies to prevent African-Americans from moving north of Van Buren Street, it was difficult for black residents to live elsewhere.

As a result, Eastlake Park was comprised almost entirely of black-owned businesses, churches, and schools such as Tanner Chapel A.M.E. Church and the Booker T. Washington School (now occupied by Phoenix New Times). It also bore witness to many of the historic milestones made by African-Americans in Arizona during the 20th century, including speeches by Booker T. Washington in 1911 and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, the founding of Arizona’s first African American-owned newspaper, the Phoenix Tribune, and the founding of the Booker T. Washington Hospital in 1927 by Phoenix’s first African-American physician, Dr. Winston Hackett.

As the Civil Rights movement gained momentum in Phoenix during the 1940s, Eastlake Park became a hotbed for protests against inequality and discrimination. But progress was slow, and by the 1960s, Eastlake Park had begun to change. Housing started to deteriorate, residents who could relocate did, and business development waned, leaving the area in a less than ideal state.

In 2013, Eastlake Park underwent a $4 million renovation to upgrade its facilities. This past spring, Eastlake was one of nine communities selected to participate in the inaugural AZ Creative Communities Institute, a collaborative program for improving communities through creative efforts.

“Eastlake is one of the few truly diversified urban neighborhoods being redeveloped with a history of leadership and community involvement.” says Virgil “Jackie” Berry, one of the team members chosen to represent Eastlake Park in the AZ CCI grant.

The Eastlake AZ CCI team notes that while the neighborhood is experiencing positive change in recent years, it’s been at an inconsistent pace. Still, they’re working to explore ways they can create a better environment for the Eastlake community while at the same time memorializing the area’s past, because at the end of the day they all agree, “Eastlake is the soul of the city of Phoenix.”

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Squaw Peak Groves In Central Phoenix
Boundaries: 12th Street, 12th Place, Glenn Drive, and the Arizona Canal
Median home price: $423,900
Origin story: Former citrus groves turned midcentury suburb
Why it’s emerging: Trendy new restaurants, a prime central location, and atomic ranch appeal

If you’re looking for the sweet spot south of Sunnyslope but north of uptown, we’ve got three words for you: Squaw Peak Groves. Tucked between 12th Street and 12th Place, Glenn Drive and the Arizona Canal, this hidden gem of atomic ranch homes built primarily between 1960 and 1962 — is a suburban dream.

Set against the backdrop of Piestewa Peak, this cluster of cul-de-sacs and winding no-outlet drives delivers on generous lots, manicured lawns, and quaint facades that feel familiar to anyone who grew up in Phoenix’s more mid-century developments: breeze-blocks, weeping mortar, and yes, maybe even a pastel paint job here and there. It’s ideal for anyone looking to raise a family without relinquishing that coveted central location.

While there aren’t as many, or any groves as the name would lead you to believe, Luci’s owners Ken and Lucia Schnitzer have been bringing the area’s past front and center with their multi-use space, The Orchard.

Located on a former citrus farm and nursery, presumably the source of the development’s original name, The Orchard features Luci’s second location, Splurge Ice Cream and Candy Shop, and Pomelo, an Italian eatery with a citrus name to pay homage to the neighborhood’s history.

Since its opening in 2016, the generous space has become a hotspot for 12th Street corridor in North Central residents looking for a place to gather with their kids, dogs, and the influx of new neighbors. Actually, The Orchard has become a major selling point for the once-sleepy neighborhood, where Ken Schnitzer says that home values have definitely increased. And he’s not surprised.

“Across the United States, people would build housing developments and then shopping centers would go in there and they’d say okay, there’s a need for shopping centers and open a store and restaurants and they’d come in after. Nowadays, the restaurants and places are there and people want to live in the area. So it’s backwards now. You don’t want to move to central Phoenix if there’s no cool places. But if there’s Luci’s and Stock & Stable and The Yard and Windsor … you want to be there.”

And to Schnitzer’s point, there’s very little for sale in Squaw Peak Groves at the moment. Those that are available are a mix of mint condition grandma-chic and newly flipped homes from investors who knew a good deal when they saw one. Either way, interested buyers are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled because a home in the Groves gets snatched up quickly. 

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West Side-Clark Addition
Boundaries: Country Club Drive, Date Street, Second Place, and Pepper Place, Mesa
Median home price: $190,000
Origin story: This was Mesa’s first suburban neighborhood.
Why it’s emerging: Although it’s a suburb, West Side-Clark looks nothing like your average Mesa stucco-and-tile fest. After years in limbo, it was finally granted historic status in 2017.

Mesa doesn’t have a reputation for architecture — let alone historic architecture. But a cluster of bungalows and ranches situated just west of the city’s original townsite bucks that stereotype.

With homes built between 1930 and 1958, the neighborhood, known as the West Side-Clark Addition, stands out as Mesa’s first move from an agricultural settlement to the sprawling, third-largest city in Arizona that we recognize today.

“This is the seventh historic district for the city of Mesa, but it could’ve been one of the earlier ones,” says Lauren B. Allsopp, who worked with the city’s Historic Preservation Office to secure the neighborhood’s recognition as an official Mesa Historic District. The former farmland already had landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Allsopp says West Side-Clark is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a prime example of bungalow and ranch housing that gave Mesa its original architectural style. And second, its residents were passionate about having the neighborhood preserved — even though it took a while to make that happen.

As Allsopp explains it, the process for historical designation began in 2004. But it was shelved when the recession hit and the city temporarily didn’t fill the full-time role of Historic Preservation Officer. (Another city employee served as the acting officer, but had several other responsibilities.) When Allsopp joined the office in 2016 on contract, she was able to help reinvigorate the project.

“It’s not the all-one-color tile roofs that you see today,” Allsopp says. “In the 17 years that passed — believe it or not — the neighborhood hardly changed at all.”

That’s a significant factor in a historic designation. In addition to houses still retaining notable features and materials, there were a few more structures that had aged into historic eligibility — or were resorted appropriately.

“Originally, over on Date, there was a little enclave of row houses that weren’t included, and now they were old enough,” she says. Another home became eligible for inclusion after its owners removed siding that covered original materials used in construction.

Residents worked closely with Allsopp to circulate a petition (which is required by Mesa) to move forward with the historic process. It paid off — and the neighborhood got the preservation nod.

This is the first of what Allsopp hopes will be several preservation success stories for Mesa. She’s working on other projects with the city currently, including a recent analysis of the Nile Theater’s mortar, preservation of the city’s neon signage, and securing grants for other neighborhoods.

Still, she says, West Side-Clark was special because she knows how much work went into it.

“I can show you a bungalow, I can show you a Tudor, and I can show you how people have made it work in the 21st century without ruining the character,” Allsopp says. “This is a neighborhood where you’ll want to walk.” B.B.

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Garfield Historic District
Boundaries: Seventh Street, 16th Street, Van Buren Street, and Roosevelt Street
Median home price: $269,000
Origin story: Former farmland turned booming middle-class residential development in the early 20th century.
Why it’s emerging: An influx of hot new restaurants and boutiques, a downtown Phoenix resurgence, and still somewhat affordable historic housing.

Tell native Phoenicians — your parents, for example — that you’re looking at houses in the Garfield district, and they might do a double take. That’s because up until very recently — say, the last five years — the historic downtown Phoenix hood had seen better days. Early 20th-century homes had fallen into either poorly stuccoed despair or complete disrepair. Historic storefronts sat abandoned. And despite the heavy foot traffic of the revitalized Roosevelt Row arts district just a block away, Garfield remained more or less a ghost town for downtown visitors.

That wasn’t always the case. In its heyday, Garfield was a thriving residential development bound by what is now Seventh and 16th streets and Van Buren and Roosevelt streets. Between the 1910s and 1920s, approximately 500 houses were built to meet the demands Phoenix’s early population boom — a growth spurt attributed to the 1911 completion of the Roosevelt Dam. By 1935, 85 percent of the former farmland had been converted into housing, offering up a selection of bungalow, Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor, and English Cottage-style homes to primarily middle- and working-class families.

Not only did the neighborhood give residents direct access to the then-essential Phoenix Street Railway, it also offered an assortment of conveniently located commercial spaces: churches, groceries, even a pharmacy. That same pharmacy, now an indoor plant nursery called Pueblo, is just one of the spaces that has seen new life in recent years, thanks in part to downtown’s resurgence as a whole.

“I just wanted to be as close as possible to my own house,” says Michael Lanier, Garfield resident and Pueblo owner. “I wasn’t trying to focus on opportunity. I was just trying to improve the area where I live for the residents and myself.”

Lanier isn’t alone. At the same intersection of 10th and Pierce streets, businesses including Gallo Blanco and Welcome Diner are also laying down roots, bringing with them an influx of hipsters, foodies, and home buyers who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Throughout the neighborhood, construction is in full swing, and homes that were once selling well under $200,000 just last year are now going for roughly double the price.

Despite its seemingly overnight popularity, however, Lanier is reluctant to label Garfield as the next big thing. “There’s a really fine line with that, to call it emerging. But it really is on sort of a come-up. I think a lot of the residents that have been here five, 10, 15, 20 years have always appreciated it and have wanted it to be better in the sense that anything could be better.”

Like any homeowner who wants to have his cake and eat it, too, Lanier just hopes that Garfield’s newfound attention doesn’t take away from the initial charm and affordability that initially drew him and others to it. “It’s improving greatly. And hopefully that starts working out for the both longtime residents and new [ones],” he says. K.J.

brentwood historic district,brentwood neighborhood,historic phoenix,phoenix,historic,district,,neighborhood,area,real esatate

Brentwood Historic District
Boundaries: 16th Street, 20th Street, Brill Street, and Culver Street
Median home price: $199,000
Origin story: Former farmland turned early-20th century residential development
Why it’s emerging: Affordable historic housing, a central Phoenix location, and a influx of new restaurants and shops along the neighboring Miracle Mile.

If you’ve ever driven by the modest remnants of Phoenix’s once-thriving Miracle Mile — a generous strip of storefronts along McDowell Road that served as a prominent shopping destination in the 1950s — chances are you’ve passed its even less-assuming historic neighborhood, Brentwood. Nestled between 16th and 20th streets and Brill and Culver streets, this freeway-adjacent residential area has remained, for the most part, undisturbed, thanks to its limited-access streets.

With its collection of 19th- and 20th-century revivals, including Tudor, Southwest, Spanish Colonial, and bungalows, Brentwood offers a vibe not too dissimilar from more established historic neighborhoods, but without the gentrified price tag.

Like other neighboring districts, Brentwood homes began as farmland, but thanks to Phoenix’s transportation growth and a population that doubled roughly every decade between 1900 and 1940 (it quadrupled in the 1950s) the area was platted for residential development beginning in 1924. By the time of its completion in 1956, Brentwood was composed of six subdivisions — McDowell Heights, Brentwood, Brentwood East, Wright Davis, Valley of the Sun, and Governor Hunt Tract. However, a good portion of the neighborhood later had to be razed to make way for the construction of State Route 51 and Interstate 10.

Still, despite some patchy areas, the neighborhood maintains its historic charm and a central location thanks to its proximity to the concentration of topnotch Mexican dining along 16th Street and of course the Miracle Mile, which, according to residents and business owners, is poised for a comeback. Actually, some of Phoenix’s more popular restaurants and retailers have set up shop along the McDowell corridor over the last few years, including Tacos Chiwas, Ollie Vaughn’s, and Rubymint General Store. Artists like Emily Costello and Kathy Cano-Murillo have arrived, too.

When asked if the area is gearing up for a resurgence, Rubymint General co-owner Kui Mi Oh is hopeful. “[It] used to be the main drag back in the day, so it would be nice to revitalize that. There’s a lot of businesses that have been trying to move on the Miracle Mile, so revamping it would definitely be a plus for us, and I think for the neighborhood as well.”

Aislyn Richmond, McDowell Corridor Coordinator, is working to make it happen. Through a partnership among the Phoenix Community Alliance, Banner Hospital, and Trellia, a nonprofit specializing in affordable housing and community development, Richmond is able to host cleanup events, workshops with businesses in the area to help them succeed, and visioning sessions with residents in Garfield, Coronado, and Brentwood to make sure ideas are being heard.

“The main goal is that [the Miracle Mile] is a very locally focused. So it’s supposed to really serve the neighborhoods here and be community-driven with services that the neighbors can really appreciate while still maintaining the history of the area and bolstering that.”

garden art district,phoenix,neighborhood,historic,real estate,historic phoenix,district

Garden Apartment District
Boundaries: 68th Street, Fifth Street, Goldwater Boulevard, and First Street, Scottsdale
Median home price: $180,000
Origin story: South of the Hotel Valley Ho, more than 15 upscale garden apartment complexes were built in the mid-20th century. Originally marketed to seasonal tourists, this is a unique collection of multifamily housing that ranges from luxury to kitschy and dramatic.
Why it’s emerging: As housing prices creep up, apartments and condos are once again prime real estate investments. And this particular cluster of apartment buildings has been recommended for historic designation.

Back in the 1950s, Scottsdale was a Hollywood playground. Swanky hotels, new businesses, and tourist attractions set the stage for a multifamily housing boom. One hundred such complexes were built between 1948 and 1964 to accommodate people who wanted to live in the suburb.

The influx came, in part, because of high-level job prospects at Motorola, which announced plans to open a facility in the suburb in the late ’50s.

Nearly 20 garden apartment complexes popped up just south of Hotel Valley Ho, a resort that opened for business in 1956, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright student Edward L. Varney.

Motorola used the hotel to house employees while they looked for permanent residences in the area. And the Valley Ho welcomed entertainers including professional baseball players and the cast and crew of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Perhaps most notably, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner hosted the reception for their first wedding in 1957 at the Valley Ho.

It was an exciting time for the suburb, says Ben Brosseau, a Realtor and Garden Apartment District resident. That history and Old Hollywood glamour is what drew the midcentury modern enthusiast and film buff back to Scottsdale after living in Los Angeles for about a decade.

It’s also why he’s working to get the neighborhood a historic designation — something that’s been on hold for a few years.

Brosseau lives at the Shalimar Sands complex, which, alongside buildings like Embassy and Capri, mirrored the designs of destination hotels like the Valley Ho, and the neighboring Safari, which was designed by Al Beadle and later demolished.

“People didn’t just buzz out here for a couple days,” Brosseau says. “They came for a week.”

Those two hotels drew visitors, and demand for Scottsdale rentals skyrocketed. Around the same time, multifamily housing construction was supported by government incentives. Hence, the boom.

Turns out, some of Scottsdale’s garden apartments are architecturally significant for several reasons, according to Steve Venker, Scottsdale’s Historic Preservation Officer. Venker says the district near Valley Ho has one of the best collections of upscale garden apartments in metro Phoenix, and it’s important because of “its use of theme designs and dramatic facades as part of ongoing marketing efforts to attract the seasonal resident.” Also of note is the “range of modern styles, varied use of materials, decorative features, and extra amenities.”

Though a study recommended several of the Garden Apartment District buildings as eligible for historic status, the project was shelved a few years back.

But Brosseau’s taking action. “The city can only get so involved with projects like this,” he says. “They have to wait for people to rally a neighborhood.”

That’s why he’s working to get all the buildings’ homeowners associations on the same page, and he hopes to make major progress next year. Then, they can take more formal steps toward preservation.

Regardless, the neighborhood’s time capsule-like midcentury dwellings are just a hop away from Scottsdale’s arts and entertainment districts. Make that a bike ride, as the city’s recently implemented a bike-share. Brosseau asks, “How great is that?!” B.B.

warehouse district,phoenix,neighborhood,historic,real estate,historic phoenix,district

Warehouse District In Phoenix
Boundaries: Jefferson Street, Sherman Street, Seventh Avenue, and Seventh Street
Origin story: An industrial district and former home of Phoenix’s Chinatown with railroad proximity.
Why it’s emerging: A flood of new businesses, warehouse renovations, and a downtown resurgence.

In major metropolitan cities across the country, warehouses have long been en vogue, operating as clubs, co-ops, studio apartments, and of course industrial chic wedding venues. But like many things our cosmopolitan cohorts have created, Phoenix has admittedly been a little late to the game.

Despite the fact the fifth-largest city does in fact have a bona fide warehouse district — its debated boundaries fall between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street, Jefferson and Sherman — for decades, urban dwellers and developers were reluctant to recognize the area south of downtown as anything more than storage space and potential parking lots.

Fortunately for these early 20th-century buildings — which have housed everything from wholesale grocers to Phoenix’s now-lost Chinatown — preservationists like Brian Cassidy of CCBG Architects have sought to turn things around. Since constructing their own offices at the corner First and Buchanan streets 12 years ago, the architectural team specializing in, among other things, adaptive reuse, have witnessed firsthand how the warehouse district is making an 11th-hour comeback.

So far, roughly two-thirds of the warehouse renovations have been handled by CCBG architects, including spaces like R & R Partners, The Croft, Grant Street Studios, IASIS Healthcare, Moses Inc, and most recently, the 411 Building, soon to be the home of Scottsdale-based software company Scientific Technologies Corporation.

Cassidy, who’s also Warehouse District chair, says CCBG averages two inquiries a month from businesses looking to move into the warehouse district. But at this point, demand outweighs supply. “Nothing is immediately available. All the space that could be available is going to take anywhere from three months to a year to renovate the buildings.”

So why the sudden rush of ready-to-relocate businesses in the Warehouse District? Cassidy has a few ideas. “We’re seeing that a lot of creative type businesses … their employees are more interested in unique buildings and buildings that you can literally walk out the front door and be out on the street — be close to the restaurants, the entertainment, the bars, and so forth.

Cassidy also credits the warehouse district’s upswing to the catalysts of downtown’s own renaissance: ASU’s downtown campus, the expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, and Valley Metro’s ongoing light rail expansion, which is set to extend directly through the warehouse district to Baseline Road.

“I always felt that people living in Phoenix wanted a better urban experience but it wasn’t being offered,” he adds.

Now, however, downtown and its subsequent Warehouse District are finally getting the recognition they deserve, thanks to new bars, new restaurants, a grocery store coming in 2018, and a plethora of high-rise residences, including the warehouse district’s first residential development in a decade, set to break ground next year.

“This area’s really going through a resurgence,” Cassidy says. “And if you could fast forward five more years, you’d really be amazed at what’s likely going to happen down here.”

Entrance to New City Studio on Central Avenue – Article Courtesy Phoenix New Times 

To buy or sell any historic Phoenix home in the Central Phoenix or Downtown area, call Laura Boyajian for her expertise in historic homes real estate.

 

Phoenix Real Estate with Historic Roots Now For Sale

November 20th, 2017 – Downtown Phoenix Journal

As part of the recent settlement of litigation between the United States and the Barron Collier Company, the federally-owned 15-acre parcel located at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road is now “For-Sale.” The land, which is located amid the booming Uptown Phoenix real estate market, is being marketed as the “Uptown Phoenix Parcel.”

The parcel was recently transferred by Barron Collier Companies to the United States for sale under an agreement that resolved Collier’s legal obligations to the United States dating back to the Congressionally approved 1988 Arizona-Florida Land Exchange Act – a deal that originally included the historic 72-acre Historic Phoenix Indian School site that had been operated as a school for Arizona Indian students for almost 100 years until its official closure by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1990.

historic,uptown,phoenix,real,estate,neighborhood,land,sale,agenrThe 15-acre Uptown Phoenix Parcel is located across from a light rail station, just one block south of the Camelback Road and Central Avenue, which was recently named by the Urban Land Institute of Arizona as one of the Valley’s most lucrative intersections for commercial and residential development.

Proceeds from the sale of this Historic Phoenix parcel will be deposited into the Inter Tribal Trust Fund and Navajo Trust Fund administered by the United States for use by tribes in Arizona to seed educational programs and services such as tribal libraries, preschools, childcare facilities, youth foster homes, tutoring and academic counseling for tribal youth, among other programs. Most of these programs have been placed on hold in recent years due to limited funding and uncertainty surrounding the future of these Trust Funds.

Many of Arizona’s current tribal leaders attended the Phoenix Indian School in their youth. When it closed, Congress made sure that the funds generated from the disposition of the property could be used to support a positive and enduring legacy for both the former Indian School, and the future of Indian education in Arizona. While the history of the Phoenix Indian School has been written, tribal leaders also look forward to supporting a new legacy that the sale of this long vacant property now represents.

“We are very pleased to see the that remaining 15-acre property, which is so steeped in the history of tribes in Arizona, will finally have an opportunity to be developed and hopefully become another Phoenix cultural highlight in the future of Uptown Phoenix,” says Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Executive Director, Maria Dadgar. “Not only will the sale of this property begin a new chapter for the City of Phoenix, the funds generated from the sale will also serve the future of Indian education in Arizona as Congress originally intended. Tribal leaders view this as a positive step in the history of the Indian School property,” says Dadgar.

The federally-owned Uptown Phoenix Parcel will be sold by a competitive online auction hosted by the Government Services Administration’s online site www.RealEstateSales.gov and will open for bids later this year.

The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., was first established in 1952 to provide a united voice for tribal governments located in the State of Arizona on common issues and concerns. Currently, ITCA’s membership includes 21 of the 22 Tribes of Arizona.

Train Depot Home Up For Sale In Phoenix

There are a lot of very cool homes in the Valley, but some stick out more than others.

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Train depot home up for sale in Phoenix

In North Central Phoenix sits a home on top of a hill that has a unique history. It used to be a train depot in Mayer, a town more than 70 miles north of Phoenix.

The history is very cool. The train depot began operation in Mayer in 1898. It was in full operation until it finally shuttered in the 1950’s. For years it sat decaying to the ravages of time, but a Phoenix man named Don Dedera had a great idea: ship the depot to the Valley and turn it into a home.

So, in early 1963, the train depot was placed on a moving truck and shipped south.

It wasn’t an easy task. It was brought down the Old Black Canyon Highway and telephone and power lines had to be moved out of the way. At one point, the moving truck turned toward the Deer Valley Airport and was able to drive down the runway to avoid even more telephone lines. Eventually, it ended up on a hill and became part of a new home.

Fast forward to a few years ago, the most recent owner, Will Auther and his wife spent nearly a year fixing up the home, and they lived in it for nearly 13 years.

Now, they’ve decided to put it on the market. They hope that someone will take it over and keep the history of the home alive and help to keep the story of the traveling train depot alive.

Metro Phoenix’s Hottest Intersections to Live, Work and Play

Metro Phoenix’s Hottest Intersections to Live, Work and Play

Uptown Phoenix was a hot spot for restaurants, shops and clubs in the 1970’s and ’80’s.

Then the cachet fizzled a bit as the Valley’s suburbs boomed.

But Camelback Road and Central Avenue, the heart of Phoenix’s uptown area, as well as Phoenix’s Midtown area, are back as a thriving hub for popular restaurants, cool boutiques, office space, light rail and historic neighborhoods and their homes.

Downtown Phoenix, AZ Historic District

Central Avenue Corridor

It’s now the Valley’s most popular intersection, according to a new poll among real-estate and growth experts.

Urban Land Institute Arizona members recently voted the central Phoenix spot the “hottest intersection” in metro Phoenix. It beat out Phoenix’s Camelback and 24th Street, an area that garnered the title the last time the group voted a decade ago.

“Camelback and Central has old buildings with great design, diversity and very supportive neighbors,” said Craig DeMarco, restaurateur and a founder of Upward Projects, at the Urban Land contest last week. “It’s the only intersection in the entire Valley with four historic neighborhoods surrounding it.”

Camelback and Central didn’t even make Urban Land’s top 10 list for hottest intersections in 2007.

A lot has changed since then. A boom and bust, light rail and a move toward an urban lifestyle by more Valley residents have shifted our growth.

Plus, DeMarco’s group has opened five restaurants, including a Postino, Windsor and Federal Pizza, around Camelback and Central over the past decade.

Other rankings on Urban Land’s top 10 list:

  • Downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway was voted No. 2 in the hot-intersection contest. The popular urban hub moved from third a decade ago. Matt Mooney, managing director of Cousins Properties, pointed out that Tempe led the nation for filling existing office space with tech firms from 2014-16.
  • Scottsdale and Camelback roads came in at No. 3, after hitting No. 2 the last time. Real-estate attorney Jordan Rose, who has an office at this Scottsdale intersection, said people can shop, eat, work, vacation, get their hair done and even buy a Tesla at Camelback and Scottsdale.
  • Chandler’s bustling Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard tied for fourth. Danny Plapp of LGE Design Build pitched the area for its $70,000 median household income, office space, new apartments and jobs. “A younger, richer and hipper generation wants to live in new suburbs like Chandler,” he told the crowd. “Just look at San Tan Brewery’s sales at this intersection.”
  • Phoenix’s 24th Street and Camelback intersection and the Camelback Corridor tied for fourth. The area is still a hot spot of offices, hotels, shopping and eateries but has a lot more competition now.
  • At No. 5 is the Scottsdale Road and Greenway Hayden Loop area, near the city’s popular airport. Danielle Casey, Scottsdale economic-development director, said there are often “celebrity sightings” at the airport and in the area. The intersection didn’t make the list the last time.
  • Downtown Phoenix’s Central Avenue and Roosevelt near Roosevelt Historic District ranked No. 6 after not making the list a decade ago. The area, known as Roosevelt Row, has recently emerged as a hub for new apartments, condos, cool restaurants, historic renovations and light rail.
  • Washington Street and Central Avenue in the heart of downtown Phoenix ranked No. 7, down from No. 5. The city’s many new high-rises are attracting more residents and offices. ASU’s downtown Phoenix expansion near Garfield Historic District is helping.
  • Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue in restaurant-rich downtown Gilbert came in at No. 8. The Gilbert intersection didn’t make the previous list.
  • Phoenix’s 44th Street and Camelback in Arcadia’s prime intersection made the list at No. 9, another new Valley area for the ranking.

Because of the tie, there was no No. 10.

Four intersections that made the top 10 in 2007 didn’t make the new ranking: Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard; 95th and Glendale avenues; 99th Avenue and McDowell Road; and Price and Willis roads.

I thought DeMarco summed up the test for ranking metro Phoenix hot spots really well.

“We have restaurants around most of the intersections on this list,” he said.

“I don’t look at numbers. I just drive around looking for the coolest neighborhoods.”

To buy or sell a historic Phoenix Home, contact Historic Homes Specialist, Laura B. today at 602-400-0008. Read about Laura B. here from her client testimonials.

6 BIKE LANE PROJECTS COMING TO A DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU

6 BIKE LANE PROJECTS COMING TO A DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU

JULY 28, 2017 BY FARA ILLICH

garfield,historic,district,real,estate,coronado,willo,rooseveltRight now, Phoenix lacks a comprehensive bicycle network connecting the downtown business district with surrounding neighborhoods.

But a number of improvement projects aim to change that.

From road “diets” to restriping, the City of Phoenix is not only focusing on making downtown more bikeable, but more walkable and livable too.

Six projects impacting downtown are in the works, which will add things like cycle tracks (two-way bike lanes), landscaping enhancements, signage, lighting and ADA improvements.

Omar Peters, a director with the Urban Phoenix Project (UPP), sees the changes as a step toward making cycling as comfortable as driving.

“It’s exciting to think about biking this entire area and it’s a nice, easy, protected and pleasurable ride,” he said.

As the special projects administrator for the city’s street department, Mark Melnychenko sets up many of the community meetings advocates (like Peters) attend. Melnychenko gathers public input and helps lead the design and construction process.

“I think we’ve made some pretty good strides in what we’re doing with streets and transportation in the Valley,” he said. “If we had talked about these types of things even 10 years ago, people would not have listened to you, now it’s part of everybody’s vocabulary.”

“Complete streets” are part of that new vocabulary, a concept that emphasizes the importance of multi-modal transportation. In fact, the city just passed a complete streets policy on June 28, ensuring all transportation improvements moving forward have things like walkability and bikeability in mind.

EVANS CHURCHILL & ALVARADO

One example of that is the First Street Pedestrian Improvement Project, which started in 2012, and is slated to conclude sometime this year.

Big changes on First Street have already been made between Van Buren and McKinley Streets, including repaving, reducing the roadway width, widening the sidewalks and adding bike lanes.

Those improvements will extend through the Evans Churchill neighborhood up to Margaret T. Hance Park in the final phase.

Third Street is another major artery running north from downtown. And unlike 1st Street, which dead-ends at Hance Park, Third Street helps bridge the I-10 barrier from Evans Churchill into the Alvarado neighborhood and beyond.

Stretching all the way up to Indian School Road, the Third Street Improvement Project will impact a lot of central city neighborhoods. It already went through the public input process, settling on design plans that reduce the traffic lanes from five to three and add buffered bike lanes. Construction will begin in late 2018 or early ‘19.

CORONADO

Running east-west, the Oak Street Improvement Project will tie into 3rd Street, which links with Roosevelt and First streets, and the rest of downtown Phoenix.

It basically provides a walkable, bikable corridor through the Coronado neighborhood (and areas east of that), in addition to easier, safer passage across major intersections like 7th and 16th streets.

According to Melnychenko, the Oak Street improvements are a great example of how the city is creating one big bicycle network, while trying to keep motorists, residents and pedestrians happy.

“Everything we do with the streets is a balancing act because we have commuters, bicyclists, public transit — and we need to balance the use of the street,” he said. “We have go about it incrementally because it impacts a lot of people.”

Construction on the Oak Street bike lanes is set to begin in 2019, and will eventually tie into the Grand Canalscape near 24th Street.

So while many of these projects aren’t connected yet, they eventually will be.

ROOSEVELT & WILLO

For instance, there’s a bike lane gap between Central and 7th Avenues along Roosevelt Street — but that’s about to change. The street was recently redone east of Central Avenue (along Roosevelt Row), and now it’s the west side’s turn.

In addition to repaving and restriping Roosevelt Street, Third and Fifth Avenues will also get bike lane makeovers, possibly as far north as Thomas Road. As part of the lengthy pre-design process, which concluded in December 2016, key stakeholders provided input, followed by a three-day design charrette.

Because of the all the new development happening in that area and connection to downtown neighborhoods like Roosevelt and Willo, a lot of community members attended the discussions.

UPP was one of the groups present, pushing for cycle tracks on both 3rd and 5th Avenues, in addition to two-way traffic south of Roosevelt.

“When you think about all the new residential that’s happening, there’s a reason why these people want to move downtown,” Peters said. “They want that lifestyle and that includes being able to walk to places, being able to bike to places.”

GARFIELD

The historic Garfield neighborhood east of downtown is also growing, and a new project along Van Buren Street would add bike lanes to that area as well. Spanning from 7th Street to 40th Street, the initial design provides a road diet, buffered bicycle lanes and sidewalk improvements.

A road diet will be used to re-channel traffic, add bike lanes and achieve systemic improvements. While proven safer overall, diets can sometimes be a contentious issue for commuters, who don’t want lanes taken away.

But according to Dan Klocke, executive director of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, it’s time to rethink that mentality.

“Cities originally widened roads so people could get to their far-flung neighborhoods faster,” he said. “It’s time to recapture some of the quality of life for those neighborhoods by reducing the impact of wide roads, and offering transportation solutions for local residents and employees.”

WOODLAND & EASTLAKE PARK

Using the existing roadway and curbing, a restriping project will also affect Washington and Jefferson streets — adding bike lanes to the gap between 7th Avenue and 7th Street.

Lanes currently exist just outside the “Sevens” going west toward the Woodland neighborhood, and east toward Eastlake Park. This would connect cyclists from those neighborhoods to the downtown business district, at no detriment to vehicle traffic.

“In a tight urban area, bikes get a lot of people around and cause no congestion,” Klocke said. “Bike lanes are an important quality-of-life amenity for those who enjoy it, but also a critical infrastructure piece for those who don’t have a car.”

Many of the projects impacting downtown neighborhoods are still open for public comment. For more information on how to get involved or attend a meeting, check the City of Phoenix website.

 

Metro Phoenix Starting to Grow Up Instead of Out

The Valley is seeing new inward development, a change from the outward expansion typical of metro Phoenix.
Mark Quinones/azcentral.com

There’s an urban revival going on in the Phoenix Valley, which has long been known for its affordable suburban homes.

Karen Wang is buying a condo in the new 14-story Portland on the Park development in downtown Phoenix.

Her new home is going up on a prime piece of land next to Margaret T. Hance Park that was a dirt parking lot when she moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area for culinary school 12 years ago.

Of course, metro Phoenix had plenty of empty lots back then. It was rated as one of the cheapest metro areas for parking in the U.S. in the mid 1990’s because it had so much vacant land, especially downtown.

Now, construction cranes and new housing, restaurant and retail developments can be found on many of those long-vacant parcels across central Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale.

The Valley, an area that for so long has grown outward with new, affordable suburbs, is having an urban revival.

For example:

  • Almost 4,000 condominiums are under construction, planned or were recently built in the central Valley, according to developers.
  • Upwards of 8,000 apartments are being built on infill sites in metro Phoenix, according to ABI Multifamily.
  • Infill land prices in the Valley have more than doubled in the most popular neighborhoods during the past 15 years, property records show.
  • Home prices and rents are climbing the fastest in the Valley’s urban hubs.
  • And the days of finding free parking on dirt lots in central Phoenix, Scottsdale or Tempe are as long gone as those vacant parcels.
downtown,phoenix,real estate,construction

Portland on the Park project at Central Avenue and Portland Street

Millennials and Boomers are behind the shift in metro Phoenix’s development. They want to live where they can walk or ride bikes to where they work or play — or both.

Builders are responding with many new high-density, high-rise condominium and apartment projects near popular eateries and shopping hubs. Not only are vacant lots being filled; older, often empty buildings are being transformed as well.

“I want a more urban lifestyle that wasn’t available when I first moved here,” said Wang, 39, who is moving downtown from the Arcadia area of Phoenix. “I am looking forward to walking just a few minutes to restaurants and the dog park.”

Her commute to her retail job in Scottsdale will get longer, but her partner, Logan Stephenson, works in downtown Phoenix.

Most urban planners support infill and high-density development because it uses less water, cuts back on freeway traffic and can create more walkable neighborhoods.

“It is a reflection of the Valley maturing as a metro area when the value of land closer in becomes more valuable and demands higher uses or basically more density,” said Mark Stapp, a growth expert and director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University.

“It’s a good thing for growth,” he said.

The Valley may never be Manhattan, but …

Phoenix will never be a San Francisco, Manhattan, London or Hong Kong for high-rise living.

The Valley also still lags other big cities such as Chicago, Portland and Denver for urban redevelopment. And growth on the Valley’s fringes will continue.

But metro Phoenix is already a higher density city than most people realize.

“Too many people equate the Valley’s growth with sprawl,” said Grady Gammage Jr., author of the new book “The Future of the Suburban City: Lessons from Sustaining Phoenix.”

An average of 3,200 people live per square mile of the Valley, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a national growth think tank.

Gammage, who has been analyzing metro Phoenix’s growth for decades, said that makes the Valley a more dense area than Seattle, Houston, Charlotte or Atlanta.

Los Angeles is the densest U.S. city with an average 7,000 people living in every square mile. Second is Las Vegas with 4,500 people per square mile, he said.

But more condominiums and apartments are under construction or planned in the Valley now than any time since the boom. Most are going up in the central Valley on infill sites.

People often try out an area by renting, experts say. Then they’ll buy if they really like it.

“Apartments lead the way for condo construction,” said Tom Simplot, CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association and a former Phoenix city councilman. “People first became comfortable living in that area, and are now converting to ownership.”

Rooftops following retail

Metro Phoenix’s typical growth trend has been reversed with infill.

Retail followed rooftops to the Valleys’ suburbs. But now new housing is chasing new infill restaurant and shopping hubs.

“Creating ‘high-connectivity’ hubs with high-density homes near restaurants, bars, shops, cultural centers and jobs is becoming the development pattern of metro Phoenix,” Stapp said.

Phoenix infill hubs include:

  • Downtown Phoenix, which has become a big draw for buyers, renters, eaters and shoppers. The area’s Roosevelt Row has several new condo developments, row houses and apartments. The Muse, with 367 apartments, is going up at Central Avenue and McDowell Road, a prime corner of the city’s skyline that has been empty for decades. Downtown Phoenix has the highest average apartment rents in the Valley.
  • Central Phoenix, where there are several restaurant hubs drawing residents and new infill homes. There’s the Uptown area around Postino, near Camelback Road, where high-end townhouses are filling the last vacant spots. One developer is transforming old apartments into Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired condos called the Mason.
  • Midtown Phoenix, where apartments and condos are going up among clusters of restaurants and shops across from Steele Indian School Park. In the Midtown neighborhood called the Yard, after the hopping restaurant hub on Seventh Street, home prices jumped 50 percent last year.
  • Phoenix’s Camelback Corridor and Biltmore areas, which have very few empty lots left for development. Now builders are tearing down older apartments to make way for newer, luxury ones because so many people want to live near the area’s luxury shops and high-end restaurants. New projects are stretching this chic area’s borders south.

“In the last 15 years the major urban cores of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe have transformed to the extent that the population is now demanding planners make them increasingly vibrant,” said David Newcombe, a co-founder of Scottsdale-based Launch Real Estate and broker at Portland on the Park.

He said the trend for urban growth is being powered by “people wanting to take back ownership of their life.”

Suburban high-rises

High-density and vertical developments aren’t just going up in Valley downtown’s anymore, either.

If an area has a popular restaurant and shopping hub, then developers are building, believing buyers will come.

Pat and John Simpson are moving from their home in north Scottsdale’s DC Ranch to a new luxury condo at Optima Kierland. The 12-story development is going up on the Phoenix/Scottsdale border next to a resort, popular shopping and restaurant hub near the Loop 101 Freeway.

“We are downsizing but not downgrading to an area where we can walk to get a cup of coffee or a meal,” said Pat Simpson, a real-estate agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s who moved to the Valley from New York a decade ago.  “We want views and amenities.”

In April, more than 1,400 new and used condos sold, according to The Information Market. That’s the highest monthly tally since mid-2007.

“Creating higher-density housing like condos near central areas strengthens communities and provide people with an alternative way of living in the Valley,” said architect David Hovey Sr., who developed the Optima condos in Scottsdale and Phoenix’s Biltmore area and now is building in Kierland.

Kierland, where a 12-story condo building is on the rise, is among the suburban areas drawing higher-density housing. Others include:

  • Central Scottsdale, where the Old Town and the Waterfront areas are sprouting high-end condos and apartments near many upscale restaurants and shops. Condo prices are easily topping $1 million, particularly in the development replacing the Borgata shopping center.
  • South Scottsdale, known as SoSco, which is drawing Millennials to its new apartments and older neighborhoods with more affordable porch homes. Apartment rents jumped 20 percent in this area last year.
  • Tempe’s Town Lake and Mill Avenue, which led the Valley’s urban rebound. New developments underway on ASU land along the water will bring even more apartments and condos to the 24/7 area that is drawing not only students and Millennials, but Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.
  • Downtown Mesa, which is drawing its first new housing developments in many years and becoming a cultural hot spot.

Moving in, up or down

Metro Phoenix’s two biggest groups moving closer in now are Millennials and empty nesters or Boomers, developers say.

These huge demographic groups seem to want to spend less time in their cars and taking care of homes with yards.

The Koch family represents both. Ann, 55, and Bob Koch, 59 live in north Phoenix but are buying a new condo in downtown Phoenix’s en Hance Park for their daughter Kayla to live in while she goes to ASU.

“We looked at renting an apartment for Kayla downtown and then realized buying could be a better deal,” Bob Koch said.

He said when their daughter moves out, the couple plan to keep the condo, stay there themselves and share it with family and friends who want to enjoy downtown.

Kayla Koch, 21, said she will walk to class and take light rail to her job in Uptown Phoenix at Flower Child restaurant.

“There’s these new type of ethos and feeling about living in an area where you can walk to a park, so many restaurants, museums and things to do,” said Aaron Carter, broker for en Hance. “More people are letting go of the trappings of a larger home to be in a great location, particularly if it’s near light rail.”

Ride it, and you might like it

downtown phoenix,light rail

Metro Phoenix Light Rail

Some may question whether light rail has drawn enough riders to be considered a success, but few dispute the train tracks have drawn development and created new Valley growth hubs.

Several of the Valley’s most popular new restaurant and shopping areas stretch along light rail from Midtown Phoenix to downtown and out to Tempe and Mesa. Housing has followed the train.

Some planners expect to see similar hot spots for development in Glendale as light rail expands there.

Light rail helped draw Adrian Zaragoza to downtown Phoenix.

He had been living in north Phoenix and found himself driving everywhere, including to central Phoenix to hang out with friends.

Five years ago, he began renting on Roosevelt Row. Now, he’s buying a condo at Portland on the Park.

portland on the park,central phoenix

“Downtown is great. I can either bike or take the train wherever I want to go,” said Zaragoza, 29, a senior financial manager in Tempe. “I only drive my car to go to work.”

Patricia Gober, interim director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said light rail has helped change metro Phoenix’s growth pattern.

“Light rail has created places where people feel like they belong and want to be in the Valley,” she said. “Phoenix is becoming more dense and poised for better growth, thanks in part to its trains.”

Density means less water usage

Urban planners say one of the biggest benefits from higher density housing is how it improves water conservation. Most infill developments use much less water than traditional neighborhoods with single-family homes.

“A very rough but conservative estimate would be that a typical high-rise household would use at least 50 percent less water than a typical single-family home on the Valley’s fringes,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute.

Based on several recent studies, she estimates a metro Phoenix high-rise home uses an average 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of water a month.

That means a Valley single-family home with a yard uses an average 8,000 to 10,000 of gallons of water each month.

“In the Valley, up to 70 percent of household water goes to outdoor uses, though the average percentage per household has been declining,” Porter said.

Water usage is an important growth factor for cities in the West like Phoenix dealing with shortages and long-term droughts.

But not all urban planners think a big shift to infill development is the right growth path for the Valley.

“Areas with high-dense housing and vibrant downtowns like San Francisco, Paris and Manhattan are unaffordable for most people,” said Joel Kotkin, executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His most recent book is “The Human City. Urbanism for the Rest of Us.”

He said metro Phoenix’s big draw for new residents is relatively inexpensive housing.

“Affordable cities like Phoenix are now drawing Millennials and families who can’t afford to live in Southern California or on the East Coast,” he said. “I am not sure those people are looking for more expensive high-rise developments in the desert.”

But Gammage and Stapp said they think there’s demand for both infill and high-rise homes as well as more affordable single-family houses farther out in the Valley.

“Not all future growth will occur in the Valley’s core,” Stapp said. “We will need to build on the edges, but more dense regional hubs can also evolve in Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and other suburbs.”

Density appeals to Wang, who the Bay Area transplant who is moving to downtown Phoenix.

“Part of my pessimism about living in the greater Phoenix area is that I’ve always felt like it was a large suburb due to the sprawl,” she said. “But the growth of Phoenix has dynamically changed in the past five years.”

She said it’s tough to compare Phoenix to San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles for downtowns.

“But Phoenix can be Phoenix, and it has changed over the years,” she said. “I am happy about the attention and renewal being brought to the heart of the city.”

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Top public school districts in Phoenix area, ranked by 2014 SAT scores

Top public school districts in Phoenix area

May 17, 2016

top phoenix schools,2014,arizonaWhen ranking Arizona’s top 50 public high schools based on 2014 SAT test scores, the majority in the top 10 are charter schools.

So we crunched the numbers again to look only at traditional, non-charter public high schools to see which are the best scoring school districts in the metro Phoenix area.

It’s no surprise that public school districts in metro Phoenix tend to perform better in the outlying areas, especially in the East Valley, such as in Chandler and Gilbert. But it was surprising to see how close some of the other school districts are when comparing their average 2014 SAT scores.

SAT test scores are a good measure of college readiness, according to the College Board, which administers the test nationwide.