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Posts Tagged ‘Garfield’

  1. Circle K and the True “Feel” of a Neighborhood

    September 28, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    In the wake of today’s potentially historic, but as-yet-inconclusive zoning hearing on the proposed Circle K at Seventh and Roosevelt streets, I have been ruminating on the character of our downtown’s neighborhoods.

    At Vanishing Phoenix, I have been covering this story since April, right after the developers’ first meeting with the Garfield Organization. I have watched as the tone of the conversation has changed, and the reasons for dispute have shifted.

    Over that time, Circle K’s representatives have attended numerous meetings with city officials, community members and neighborhood associations, discussing the various groups’ concerns, and moving toward a workable solution.

    In response, Circle K made numerous design concessions, adding architectural flair, shade trees and wider sidewalks, and promising space for a mural in the alley to be completed by a local artist from the Garfield neighborhood.

    Through the many talks, local residents, business owners, artists and students have been confronted with the question of what sort of business is best for their neighborhood, and how to foster the desired culture.

    And with the continued redevelopment of downtown dating back to the 1970s, it is a question that will continue to be asked.

    A development along Palm Lane, just across from an historic former single-family home (Connor Descheemaker/DD)


    Riding my bicycle along Palm Lane between Seventh and Third streets on a recent night, I was slapped in the face with how commercial development can and will encroach upon the character of historic neighborhoods.

    While such development is not necessarily a bad thing, one can’t help but feel unsteady when going through the lush, palm-lined streets of the Alvarado neighborhood, and suddenly coming upon a massive parking lot, or a house whose front yard has been gutted to make way for an entrance and another parking area, replete with flood lights.

    From this unexpected office and commercial strip, one continues on Palm Lane to find an array of well-preserved 1940s and ‘50s-era apartment and office complexes, bringing a traveler right back to the historic norm of the rest of the surrounding area.

    Though the new commercial developments along this street are architecturally integrated into the neighborhood, when surrounded by the Coronado and Alvarado historic districts, the sites feel out of place.

    Just a few blocks northward though, the Ashland Place historic district sits almost entirely undisturbed.

    A single-family dwelling sits below the ambient light on Vernon Street in the Ashland Place district. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Lined with similarly thick trees and entire streets of architecturally-unique homes, the district sits quietly just off Central Avenue, astride two major arterial roads at its East and West ends.

    Every single house along Vernon Street is original, mixing a fair array of styles to create one of Central Phoenix’s most intriguing neighborhoods.

    With no formal entryway, the glow of the streetlights beckon only the most curious and patient passersby to view the quaint, perfectly-preserved district.

    These two contrasting examples illustrate the ways that neighborhoods can be brought through to the present: Will they deal with infill and new development, or will they stick exclusively to the familiar feel of the past?

    As Evans-Churchill and Garfield scramble to determine their reactions to the potential arrival of Circle K, they too must think about how to maintain the distinct feel of their areas. And with each neighborhood containing so much vacant space, new development is at the very least a necessary evil.

    How each neighborhood will react remains to be seen, but each must certainly make a plan for their path forward, so as not to lose what makes each unique.

    Blogger’s Note: For a full report on the Circle K hearing, head here for all the gory details. To hear a community member’s perspective on the issue, take a look at Will Novak’s opinion piece here.


  2. Seventh and Roosevelt Streets Transformation Continues: Part 2 of 2

    August 31, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    So sorry for the delay. The school year has begun, Downtown Devil is back to publishing daily, and Vanishing Phoenix is back to its weekly schedule.

    This year, I have lots planned for the blog, including guest posts, more historic building spotlights, musings on the Valley’s history and a new monthly feature where you, the reader, determine the content.

    Today, I return with the long-awaited sequel to the never-ending drama of development on Seventh and Roosevelt Streets. First, a few updates on the proposed Circle K, relocating to the southeast corner of the intersection.

    This past week, the agenda for the upcoming City of Phoenix abandonment hearing was revealed, with a pending application from MD Partners, LLC, the developer behind the Circle K project. The shorthand for the application reads as such: “Approximately 3,534 s.f. of excess ROW along the south side of Roosevelt Street, east of 7th Street, adjacent to the parcels addressed 917 and 925 N. 7th Street.”

    What this means for surrounding residents, is relatively large indent where the sidewalk currently sits, making room for a recessed bus stop. Following my initial repost of the memo on Facebook, a reader shared a few photo illustrations to show the space that would be taken up.

    The red area indicates the location of the proposed abandonment zone, where the current bus stop will me moved. (Photo illustration courtesy of Vanishing Phoenix reader W Brent Armstrong)

    The abandonment process will be discussed this Wednesday in front of the Abandonment Hearing Officer, with the final decision to directly affect the footprint of the impending development.

    Watch in the next week or two for a full report from the Downtown Devil on the development’s progress.

    And now for the northeast corner, the location of the current Circle K, Tacos de Juarez, a laundromat and a barber shop.

    With the proposed move of Circle K, one developer, Vintage Partners, is already lining up to purchase the entire block and turn it into a new, modern commercial development.

    Vintage Partners has recently gained attention for its work in developing the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road, which Vanishing Phoenix covered back in April and May. After purchasing the midcentury plaza, the group changed the face of the entire corridor, welcoming six new fast-casual restaurants to the historic neighborhood, five of which were franchises.

    Though the plaza had long been rundown and was undoubtedly improved, there was a major outcry in the community for the inundation of chain and chain-like restaurants in an area long identified by its unique, local businesses.

    Similarly, residents of the Evans-Churchill and Garfield Neighborhoods expressed concerns about the takeover of a largely-ethnic and arts-based corridor with a gentrified, franchised plaza.

    At the moment, Vintage Partners is only making offers to the various building owners along Seventh Street and slowly working to build a cohesive vision for the area.

    As they continue this process the development firm is gauging interest in the community, and putting their feelers out among potential tenants for the plaza.

    With these two potential vision-altering projects being proposed, there will certainly be an outcry in the community, for better or for worse. So, readers, to you: what do you think about these developments? Could they be better integrated into the flow of the neighborhoods? Or are they already going to serve a vital enough purpose?


  3. A new Seventh Street and Roosevelt looms: part 1 of 2

    June 15, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    Back at the end of April, I first addressed the new development proposals for the Seventh Street corridor, reaching from Garfield to Portland Streets along the East side of the street.

    Just this week, after several months of talks with the City of Phoenix and Garfield neighborhood residents, representatives from Circle K and Vintage Partners (the two groups behind the two development proposals) attended and presented at the monthly Evans Churchill Neighborhood meeting.

    Below is the first in a two-part post on what I learned from the developers, focusing on Circle K’s proposed new location on the southeast corner of Seventh and Roosevelt. Check back in the coming days for part two on a newer, rougher proposal for the northeast corner of the same intersection.

    What should the entry to the Downtown look like? (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    The corner of Seventh and Roosevelt Streets, where these developments center, is an extremely vital corridor for all kinds of traffic.

    Going southbound, the road beckons travelers into Downtown Phoenix toward sports, offices, performance and dining. Going northbound, traffic leads to the freeway, which goes to the East and West Valleys, along with toward Midtown and Uptown via Seventh Street. Eastbound, Roosevelt Street enters the Garfield neighborhood, an historic working-class neighborhood, currently caught in the midst of gentrification, home to students, artists, immigrants and others. Westbound, Roosevelt provides entry to the Evans Churchill Neighborhood/Roosevelt Row, a growing arts community still beholden by numerous vacant lots.

    Two developers are currently aiming to entirely reface the intersection, reclaiming a set of run-down buildings and a long-running restaurant on the north side, and demolishing the former Llantera shop along the south.

    What the developers decide to do will no doubt set up the urban form of both neighborhoods it borders, and show visitors what Phoenix has to offer its drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

    The first to present at the meeting was a set of three representatives from Circle K Stores’ Arizona Division, sharing their vision for a new, greatly expanded gas station and convenience store taking up the entire southeast corner of Seventh and Roosevelt Streets.

    First and foremost, the new location would require flattening the recently-closed tire shop and its adjoining buildings, and replacing them with a large new 8-pump, 16-car-service gas station, most similar to the Circle K on Seventh and Buckeye according to the site’s planner.

    The site would not expand southward or take over the historic muffler shop and other buildings closer to Garfield Street.

    The current Circle K location on the northeast corner (deemed by many to be ill-fitting for the driving needs of the area) would be vacated, and left to an undetermined future use. Since the current location is leased rather than owned, it is out of Circle K’s control what happens to the site after the business is moved.

    The proposed new location, according to planners, is of a more “urban” design. Based on meetings with the Garfield neighborhood association, designers created an architectural plan to address the adjoining area’s history and character. This would be reflected in the convenience store’s arched roof and metal awning, and the entire property being given brick trim to match the surrounding homes’ construction.

    Along the back wall, the representatives noted the possibility of working with local artists to design a mural to beautify the alleyway of the store, something that has already been done at a Circle K in Tucson.

    The streets and auto entries to the plaza represent the greatest changes to the existing footprint of the corner.

    Designers plan to add shade trees and low-lying shrubs to the Seventh Street sidewalk, separating pedestrians and cyclists from traffic on one side, leaving a curb along the side of the gas station.

    Roosevelt Street, on the other hand, would see a much greater adjustment to its current design, with Circle K eating up a small plot of land currently designated to the City, and utilizing to expand landscaping and create a bus-designated zone, aimed at moving the bus out of the busy street to reduce traffic interference. This process, called abandonment, would transfer previously public land to Circle K to be used at their discretion.

    Finally, the alleyway would be moved back a few feet to accommodate the convenience store’s footprint. Through this and other driveway modifications, deliveries and other access points would be restricted to less-crowded entries to the complex along the south and northeast sides.

    The design, according to the representatives, should be considered 70-80% complete as of our viewing, with applications and designs currently beginning their approval process with the City of Phoenix. If all goes according to plan, the Circle K could be open in about a year’s time.

    The central criticisms of the project arose in regard to Circle K’s basic intent: a car-centric business at the entry to a supposedly pedestrian-centric downtown. Several attendees felt the very existence of such a mammoth gas station and convenience store to be antithetical to Downtown Phoenix, and specifically the visions of the Garfield neighborhood and Evans Churchill/Roosevelt Row.

    Additionally, attendee and transportation expert Sean Sweat voiced his concerns on the burial of the bus stop, thereby delaying the bus’s return into traffic and hurting scheduling.

    And now the discussion goes to you: does a development like this work within the vision for the future of Downtown Phoenix, specifically in the neighborhoods it adjoins? Can the character of the area be maintained with new construction, especially a gas station and convenience store?

    From a business perspective, Circle K’s current, tiny, crooked location on the northeast corner of Seventh and Roosevelt is ill-equipped to reach its maximum potential for the number of drivers which pass its pumps every morning and evening. But with two other gas stations nearby, does this new location serve the community in which it will be built?

    This new Circle K will certainly change the current view of Seventh and Roosevelt Streets. But how it does so is yet to be determined.


  4. Seventh street corridor looking at transformation

    April 27, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    In the past several years, the Downtown-to-Midtown corridors along the 7’s have seen some major changes.

    First, the legendary Emerald Lounge and original location of the Lost Leaf were forced to vacate their quarters in an historic brick building on the southwest corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell. The two local establishments would in time be replaced by a Starbucks and a Pei Wei, most recently joined by another neighborhood-favorite in SideBar.

    More recently, along the north side of McDowell leading into Seventh Ave., the local flower shop, antique market, and Willo Bakery left the neighborhood. Then finally, the death blow came with the departure of My Florist Café and its famed grand piano, leaving many wondering about the impending fate of the “My Florist” sign which had dominated the corner for decades.

    Currently, the property is in the throes of being remodeled, with a handful of temporary tenants in place and a Habit Burger outpost in development, just as the next-door property was leveled.

    Across the street, the nondescript beige plaza once used for Tom Horne’s campaign headquarters was redeveloped into a fast-casual chain dining mecca, with a flashy new paintjob and expanded footprint. Where the small modern furniture outpost known as D.A.’s Modern once held sway, there is now a Five Guys Burgers, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Chipotle Mexican Grill, How Do You Roll? Sushi and locally-based chain ZoYo Neighborhood Yogurt. The first non-franchised tenant for the plaza is only now arriving in the form of Vovomeena, a new breakfast concept from DJ Fernandes of Tuck Shop and Astor House.

    Now, a new major redevelopment is in the works at Seventh Street and Roosevelt.

    Looking eastbound along Roosevelt Street toward Seventh, where the proposed development will be located. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Though details are still cloudy at the moment, this past Tuesday the Garfield Organization Revitalization & Economic Development Committee focused its monthly meeting on a new proposal that would transform the entire outlay of Seventh Street from Portland to Garfield.

    The development is confirmed to include a massively expanded Circle K, replacing the current, smaller one already on the corner. As many as 20 pumps will now fill the corner, with hinted-at plans to create a restaurant plaza similar to the one at Seventh Avenue and McDowell.

    Among the potential casualties for the new construction are the Llantera shop, bus depot, a barber shop, laundromat and most notably, the popular Tacos de Juarez, which features a well-known mural by local artist and neighborhood resident Lalo Cota.

    Although none of the buildings are technically historic, this vital thoroughfare (already featuring three gas stations within two blocks, mind you) would be permanently reshaped. A gas station would now welcome residents and visitors into what is supposed to be Phoenix’s arts hub, and one of its oldest, most vital neighborhoods, Roosevelt Row and Garfield, respectively. A potentially-vital multi-modal transit corridor would be dedicated to the automobile for the long term.

    Though nothing is set in stone at the moment, based on Phoenix’s history with such developments, things will begin moving very quickly.

    And so, readers, what are your thoughts? I will continue to update you as plans for the development are revealed. Please feel free to notify me in the comments or via E-mail what has changed in the plans, along with who to contact with regard to questions on the development.

    Blogger’s Note: The initial post read that the first local tenant to occupy the plaza at 7th Avenue and McDowell would be the new Tuck Shop venuture. It has come to my attention that ZoYo Neighborhood Yogurt is a locally-based chain currently in the process of expanding and franchising nationally. The post has been edited to reflect this error.