Tag Archives: Central Corridor

Downtown Phoenix’s Growing Popularity is Pricing Out Many Residents

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10-28-2018 Courtesy, in part, azcentral

Downtown Phoenix’s Metro housing boom is blanketing the area with thousands of new apartments and condominiums.

But the rents and prices for the new homes will shut the door on some who want to live in the area. and home prices in historic neighborhoods in and around downtown Phoenix are soaring as the area becomes more popular, further limiting Metro Phoenix potential buyers.

“It’s heartbreaking that the teachers and those working in the area’s hotels and cafes can’t afford to live in downtown,” said Cindy Dach, downtown Phoenix proponent, resident and business owner. “The area won’t be diverse unless we plan housing for everyone.”

Some affordable housing is planned in the city’s core, but not enough, say housing advocates. Building affordable housing in the area is tough due to rising land prices.

“We need the entire spectrum of housing in downtown Phoenix,” said Patricia Garcia Duarte, CEO of the housing non-profit Trellis. “Many people forget affordable housing is needed to create a healthy community.”

Luxury, luxury and more luxury in Metro Phoenix Phoenix, AZ

Most of the 8,000 apartments recently built, underway or planned in downtown Phoenix are in luxury complexes with rents higher than the average Valley mortgage.

The average apartment rent in downtown Phoenix is $1,608, according to ABI Multifamily. The average apartment rent for a one bedroom for the entire city of Phoenix is $1,050.

Millennial Adrian Zaragoza rented in downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row neighborhood for five years before buying a new condo in the area’s Portland on the Park development last year.

“I saw rents rising, and the chance to buy a condo before those prices climbed too,” he said.

Zaragoza said all of the new development going on downtown “is exciting,” but he’s glad to be his own landlord and not dealing with rent hikes.

If too many apartments go up and don’t fill up fast, rents could fall in downtown Phoenix.

Also, though rents are high in downtown Phoenix, they are still $50 to $100 lower a month than rents in downtown Scottsdale and Tempe.

Can you still find an affordable house In Phoenix, AZ?

Aysia Williams and Benjamin Hughes rented in Phoenix’s Woodland Historic District, on the western edge of downtown, for about a year before trying 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.

The couple’s house, for which they paid less than $250,000 a few months ago, was never even listed for sale. They were renting in the neighborhood and searching for a home they could afford when they met a longtime homeowner who didn’t want to sell to an investor.

People talk about the gentrification of central Phoenix pricing too many first-time homebuyers out. Buyers can still find affordable homes if they look hard enough.

Home prices in most other historic neighborhoods around downtown Phoenix are much higher. Prices in nearby the nearby Roosevelt historic district and Willo historic neighborhood can easily top $500,000.

Housing downtown workers can afford

Phoenix Housing Director Cindy Stotler said downtown Phoenix has 1,001 affordable units which is more than most people realize.

The issue is that those units are reserved under federal law for “very low-income” individuals who have a median annual income of  $14,000-$38,000.

Stotler said the real downtown housing gap is in “workforce housing,” for middle-income individuals who make $38,000-$48,000 annually. These individuals would have to pay nearly 50 percent of their income to afford living in market-rate housing downtown which is not reasonable or sustainable, she said.

“To me, the area that we’re missing in downtown is the working people’s housing. And people who are not like a lawyer or something and making a lot of money, but they’re just average working people,” she said. “There’s no regular housing for them. We’re not building that.”

To get workforce housing downtown, the city likely won’t be able to rely on traditional developers, Stotler said.

Land prices are high, which makes it difficult for developers to offer middle-income rents and still turn a profit on their projects, she said.

Garcia Duarte said financing is also difficult for more affordable housing, which deters some developers from building it. 

Stotler is looking to city-owned land in downtown as a possible solution to this issue. She hopes to find developers or non-profit groups that may be able to build middle-income housing on these lots.  

Affordable housing to market-rate

Phoenix’s housing department owns and operates three affordable housing properties in the downtown core.

  • Deck Park Vista: Located at Third and Moreland streets, Deck Park Vista has 56 subsidized senior apartments. The average household income is $17,848 and only two of the units qualify as workforce housing.
  • Ambassador West: This complex located near Van Buren Street and Fifth Avenue has 102 units. The average household income is $24,159 and only 28 of the units qualify as workforce housing.
  • Reflections on Portland: This small, 18-unit complex at Second and Portland streets has five workforce housing units. The average household income is $35,245.

Stotler would like to take some of the city’s housing projects and redevelop them as denser projects with more units available for middle-income households.

For example, Deck Park Vista is a garden-style apartment complex with just 56 units on two acres of land. Stotler said she could fit between 200-400 units on the land.

“It’s a poorly designed project for the downtown,” she said.

Stotler said the city has 10 other senior housing options across Phoenix, including some near downtown, like the Warehouse District, where the current residents could be moved to accommodate a new multistory project on the land with 200 workforce units and 50 affordable units.

Financing the project won’t be easy. While the city gets federal assistance to provide low-income housing, there are far fewer resources to build and provide middle-income housing, Stotler said.

“That’s where I’m struggling right now, is where we can get the funding to build all these workforce units,” Stotler said.

Pressure to build affordable In Phoenix, AZ

In most large cities, particularly those on the East Coast, it’s common practice to require developers who build market-rate housing to contribute to an affordable housing trust fund, which allows the city to build affordable housing.

Phoenix can’t do this. State law prohibits cities from creating such trust funds, Stotler said.

Instead, the city council can, and has, put pressure on developers to include a percentage of affordable or workforce housing in its projects if they want special perks from the city like a tax break or extra height.

Recently, the developer of an apartment project planned at the Arizona Center agreed to reserve 10 percent of its 354 planned units for workforce housing in exchange for a tax break.

Whether you’re looking to buy a single-family home in Phoenix, AZ, a Historic Phoenix home, or, If the condo lifestyle is something you’re considering, or, if it’s all you can afford now, please give me a call for  free, no obligation consultation. I specialize and LOVE working with first-time homebuyers and am am FIRM believer that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. I’ll take all the time with you that you need!

Arizona set to add 500,000 jobs during next eight years

August 6th, 2018

Arizona is poised to add 1 million new residents between now and 2026 as well as more than 500,000 jobs to continue growing the state’s economy.

Arizona expected to gain 500,000-plus jobs, 1 million residents by 2026. Downtown Phoenix District Booming.

The statistics, from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, paint a picture of a state once waylaid by the Great Recession as it continues to find its economic footing, according to a report by the Arizona Republic.

phoenix,downtown,growth,real,estate,realtor,central,condos,homes,house,buy,area,neighborhood,specialist,agentThose numbers would see the biggest growth in Phoenix and Maricopa County, already the state’s most populous region. The population is expected to grow from about 4.9 million to 5.5 million in the metro area during the next eight years.

The state’s population likely would rise to 8.1 million by 2026.

While those numbers are big, it’s not the kind of growth the state saw during the 1990s. Yet the county’s job growth could top out at 2.1 percent annually during that span.

What it could mean for Maricopa County and Arizona is increased influence on a business scale in the state where things already tip toward Phoenix. Politically, it could mean more clout in Washington for the state as increased representation at least following the 2020 Census.

That kind of political clout would continue to bolster Arizona’s industries that deal with federal contracts, notably the defense and aviation industries that have a large number of companies doing work in the region and state. During the second quarter, companies in the state received $2.26 billion in defense contracts.

Arizona already is a tight labor market, with the unemployment rate at 4.7 percent in June.

Whether you’re looking to buy a single-family home in Phoenix, AZ, a Historic Phoenix home, or, If the condo lifestyle is something you’re considering, or, if it’s all you can afford now, please give me a call for  free, no obligation consultation. I specialize and LOVE working with first-time homebuyers and am am FIRM believer that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. I’ll take all the time with you that you need!  

 

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.

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.

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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.

 

A History of a Historic Preservation Advocate

G.G. George, the Phoenix author of the new book, “The Arizona State Fair,” has a history of preservation activism dating back to the 1960’s and remains an active voice in the historic community today for Historic Phoenix Districts.

districts,historic,phoenix,real estate,G.G. George,neighborhood,encanto palmcroft,encanto park,neighborhood,“G.G. George is the Energizer Bunny of historic preservation,” said Kathryn Leonard, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer.

Most recent, the Norton House and all of Encanto Park were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This completed a project led by George, the president and founder of the Encanto Citizens Association, and the president of the Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition, to put the entire Encanto Neighborhood on the National Register, which was started in the 1970’s.

And these are only a few of her accomplishments.

“G.G. has always been an extremely valuable voice in the historic preservation movement in Phoenix and it dates back to when all of our historic districts downtown were considered blighted, and nobody wanted to live in them,” said Leonard.

Papago Freeway

George began her work back in 1969 when she heard the plan to construct the I-10 Papago Freeway was displacing residents from their homes. These homes were in the area known as the Moreland Corridor, located between McDowell and Roosevelt Streets and Central and 19th Avenue.

At the time, the Arizona Highway Department, now known as the Arizona Department of Transportation, was offering homeowners less than what their houses were worth so that they could begin construction on the freeway, according to George.

“The freeway fight spurred preservation awareness,” said George. “The homes they were tearing down in the Moreland Corridor were just as nice as this house, just as old and even older,” said George, referring to her home in the Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood.

George was invited to a meeting by a group known as Citizens for Mass Transit Against Freeways which included a group of concerned neighbors who wanted to make a difference. George attended the meetings, heard the stories from the people who lost their homes, and wanted to help in some way.

“She really was instrumental in saying ‘Hey, these houses have value,’” said Leonard.

According to George, the people in this neighborhood had no idea there was anything they could do to stop the construction of the freeway until a few activists organized the neighborhood. Nearly 2,000 neighbors came together to express their dissent against the construction.

In 1973, a vote appeared on the ballot which determined the fate of the freeway. The Citizens for Mass Transit Against Freeways and preservation advocates won their first battle when construction of the freeway was voted down.

The Department of Transportation had to scrap their original plan for the Papago Freeway, which led to the development of a new plan of an I-10 tunnel under Margaret T. Hance Park.

Arizona State Fairgrounds

Over the years, George has worked on countless other efforts to preserve historic buildings. Most recent, when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) building, located on the Arizona State Fairgrounds near Fairview Place Historic District, was threatened with demolition, George supported the effort to save it.

George wrote “The Arizona State Fair,” a book that chronicles the history of the fairgrounds from its formation in 1905 through the Great Depression when the WPA building was built. George wrote the book “to stimulate interest in the preservation of the buildings and the grounds.” According to George, the profit from the books goes toward historic preservation efforts.

“I devote all my time, research, and writing ability to the [Encanto] citizens association who gets the profits from these books to carry on our work,” said George.

According to Jim McPherson, president of the board of directors for the Arizona Preservation Foundation, George was very supportive of this effort from both a preservation and neighborhood standpoint.

“We have been really appreciative of G.G. in undertaking that major project,” said McPherson regarding George’s book.

Moving forward, George said that she will continue to fight to preserve the integrity of historic districts.

“If we don’t understand the past we can’t even plan for the future,” said George.

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.

Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash music publisher’s estates look to sell prominent Phoenix land

Jan 13, 2017

Land is for sale at the southwest corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix neighboring Willo Historic District, Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District, FQ Story, Alvarado and Ashland Place districts.

That is one of the busiest intersections in the region and is also on the Metro light rail systems. The land is owned by real estate entities managed by trusts of the Aberbach family.

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Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley

Julian J. Aberbach, who died in 2004, was the music publisher for Elvis Presley. Music publishers do deals related to song writing and royalties when compositions are used.

Public records and real estate databases show land at the Indian School/Central land is owned by Aberbach Investments LLC and Vembec LLC.

Those entities are managed by estates for Julian J. Aberbach and his family.

Greg Vogel’s Land Advisors Organization is marketing the land.

The corner was previously home to an AM/PM gas station which is no longer there, parking lots and a Yoshi’s restaurant.

Vogel said the land for sale totals approximately 3 acres with an asking price of $50 per square foot.

Vogel sees the Indian School/Central land as a good spot for a new apartment development.

Julian Aberbach and his late brother Joachim Jean Aberbach were in the music publishing business and forged deals with Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash.

Julian Aberbach died in 2004 at age 95.

The New York Times outlined in his obituary the business ties to Presley whom he first forged a deal with in 1955. That included telling Presley to hire songwriters to provide him more music.

“I gave Elvis a check for $2,500, an advance against the royalties of his stock ownership,’’ Aberbach said in a 2002 interview with Billboard magazine according to the Times obit. “And he promptly went to the Cadillac dealer and got a pink one.”

Elvis first appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956.

Land Advisors is a leading real estate firm in the state and region. Vogel’s group forged the deal that is bringing Lennar-developed apartments to the northwest corner of McDowell Road and Central Avenue.

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Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Phoenix Opening May 16th

Dominic Armato, The Republic | azcentral.com 12 p.m. MST May 11, 2016

Get a first look before the new location opens Monday

On Monday, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, one of the most famous purveyors of deep-dish pizza, will open up shop at Uptown Plaza, at Camelback Road and Central Avenue in Phoenix.

lou malnatis,pizza,phoenix,camelback,uptownI’m not sure I can defend it, but I sure do love it.

Deep-dish pizza lives at the intersection of brash decadence and pure gluttony.

Take the simple elegance of a Neapolitan pizza, Americanize it and jam it in a pan, then bury it under a pile of cheese and chunky tomato sauce and you have Chicago’s most famous contribution to the world pizza pantheon. Though short on sophistication, it’s a dish that’s long on pure joy.

And on Monday, May 16, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, one of the most famous purveyors of deep-dish pizza, will start serving it in Phoenix, at Camelback Road and Central Avenue.

This is one of Chicago’s titans of deep dish, and the chain’s new restaurant at Uptown Plaza will be the 46th branch, but the first outside the greater Chicagoland area.

Though Pizzeria Uno is the first choice of tourists visiting Chicago, Lou Malnati’s always seemed to me the more widely respected establishment among locals, opened by and named for the son of Rudy Malnati Sr., former pizza chef at Uno. The Malnatis are among the first families of Chicago deep-dish pizza, and their claim to its creation is as credible as any other.

Why Phoenix? 

uptown plaza,midcentury,pizza,malnatis“We ship a lot of pizza to Phoenix,” says Mark Agnew, the president of Lou Malnati’s, who started working at the restaurant when he was 15. “We wanted a market where we felt like people know who we were.”

Malnati’s isn’t merely spreading its seed to the wind with a franchising agreement, as Pizzeria Uno did in the 1990’s with disastrous culinary consequences.

Rather, they’re keeping the business in the family, taking care to ensure the pizza at this Malnati’s is a fair representation of the pizza they serve back home.

  • All of the ingredients used at the Phoenix Malnati’s will be the same as those used in Chicago.
  • Five members of the Malnati’s management team have relocated to Phoenix.
  • Nearly half the staff has trained at the restaurants back East.

Perhaps most importantly, Malnati’s has chosen the fertile soil of a city awash with Chicago expats to plant its first remote location, hoping to draw the kind of ebullient crowds that welcomed Portillo’s to the Valley in 2013.

Early Malnati’s memories

For the record, my feelings about Portillo’s are somewhat reserved. Though a venerable Chicago institution, I think Portillo’s product is less superlative than it is consistently solid. But I have no such reservations when it comes to Malnati’s.

It wasn’t always this way. Growing up in Chicago, we were a Gino’s East family, routinely feasting on miraculous pies served from deep within the bowels of its original location, a graffiti-covered dungeon of a building just off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. When we pulled up one day to discover the building razed and Gino’s relocated to the former home of a Planet Hollywood, we jumped ship and consoled ourselves in the embrace of a pizza that — if I’m being honest with myself — was probably a little better.

That was Lou Malnati’s deep dish. We never looked back.

A different look

The look of the Phoenix Malnati’s may surprise fans of some of the older locations.malnatis pizza,new,phoenix,uptown,restaurantsuptown plaza,phoenix,midcentury,pizza

“We try to be a local pizzeria,” Agnew explains. “Each of our restaurants looks different, and we try to fit in.”

That means embracing the Mid-century Modern style of Uptown Plaza’s renovation, complete with neon lights, aquamarine tiling, Fiestaware plates and Googie design. It also means welcoming local charities during an invitation-only soft opening to raise money for Chrysalis’ domestic violence shelters, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock teen center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The bright colors and wild look of the dining room are a far cry from the original Lou Malnati’s, which opened in Lincolnwood, Ill., in 1971. Folks new to Malnati’s won’t know the difference, but to trigger the nostalgia synapses of old-time Chicagoans, the food will need to carry the day.

What’s deep dish? 

We’re talking about a pizza that Jon Stewart famously denigrated as a “casserole.” Though it was meant as an insult, even as a fan of deep dish, it’s a characterization that I have a hard time refuting. We are, after all, talking about your choice of toppings mixed with an abundance of melted cheese and covered with a thick layer of bright, chunky tomato sauce, all stuffed into a dense, crunchy crust that’s buttery and — for reasons unknown — almost always undersalted.

In a national scene now dominated by Chris Bianco’s artfully crafted legacy, deep dish can seem like a dense, clumsy oaf of a pizza whose most compelling feature is its unashamed sense of abandon. But its coarse appearance belies the subtlety within. When it’s on, there is a beguiling, gooey charm in a slice of deep dish. Malnati’s, in particular, challenges the notion that a single slice can feed a family of six. It sure isn’t light, but two or three slices can slide right down a lot quicker than you might think.

In just a few days, families will begin lining up for a taste of Lou Malnati’s deep dish. Here’s hoping the famed pizza lives up to their expectations.

Details: Uptown Plaza, 100 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. loumalnatis.com.

Mansion by Former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice is on the market

This Phoenix mansion designed by former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice is on the market for $8.75 million

May 6, 2016, 8:15am MST

A Phoenix mansion designed by Vernon Swaback, one of the last living former apprentices to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is for sale. View pictures.

And the 13,365-square-foot home can be yours for a cool $8.75 million, one of the priciest homes for sale in the city of Phoenix, according to Realtor.com.

The property at 15 Biltmore Estates Drive sits on about 1.67 acres and includes seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. The home abuts the Adobe Golf Course in the Biltmore neighborhood and features resort-like grounds, custom-made limestone columns and surfaces as well as Brazilian hand-scraped cherry wood floors, an expansive master suite, bar, pool and whole slew of other high-end amenities and features.

The property previously was on the market with a price higher than $9 million, but it was de-listed roughly a year ago before going back up for sale earlier this year.