Downtown Phoenix: What are the development needs for vibrant urbanization?

By Sarah Stecko, Commercial Executive Magazine

The keynote speaker at the Valley Partnership March breakfast, Congressman David Schweikert, emphasized economic recovery and the need to get creative in real estate, particularly in downtown Phoenix.

U.S. Congressman David Schweikert, AZ-06. Source: Small Giants
U.S. Congressman David Schweikert, AZ-06. Source: Small Giants

Moderator Kevin Calihan, Senior Vice President at CBRE, got diverse insight from the city and a commercial real estate developer’s perspectives, to a company that relocated to the seemingly abandoned Warehouse District in Phoenix.

R&R Partners marketing agency and, although it only moved its Phoenix office a few blocks south, it was quite an undertaking. Vice President/Managing Director Matt Silverman admits moving into the 1926 grocery warehouse at Second and Buchanan streets was a “labor of love,” because its historic preservation required everyone involved to be completely committed.

And, the transition was not without any concerns. Many of R&R Partners’ employees and clients worried the new location was unsafe due to the abandoned buildings being more prevalent than in other, more developed areas downtown. Another side effect of its neglect is flooding after a heavy rainfall. Silverman also confessed parking was a main challenge, and he had to purchase a nearby lot to provide adequate parking.

So, what does this mean for developers and the City of Phoenix overall?

After working in the Warehouse District for a few weeks, R&R Partners found the scare of heightened crime to be just a myth, so the area can be ideal for future residents and business owners. Moreover, Valley Partnership is one of the organizations advocating for more funding in flood control to counter what Silverman calls “Lake Buchanan.” And regarding parking, panelist and Vice Mayor Kate Gallego said she believes there’s plenty available and that we need to “maximize its existing assets.” The panelists agree: The rumor of this area “over the tracks” not being a suitable place for development and redevelopment needs to be dispelled. Developer Dave Krumwiede, Executive Vice President at Lincoln Property Company, says “if you occupy the space, the misconception of it being overpopulated by homeless people and danger will go away.”

Source: Small Giants
Source: Small Giants

The heart of downtown Phoenix is experiencing an increase in tourism and is attracting a lot of attention to the Convention Center. Gallego is excited about the growth of “meds and eds” (medical and educational facilities), as well as the projection of 6,000+ hotel rooms and housing units to come.

Krumwiede, who grew up in Phoenix, sees plenty of opportunity and is a big believer of downtown. Some of his development plans include re-purposing a building to create more multifamily. He also wants to address the need for closer grocery stores.“I’d like to see more retail, such as a coffee shop that’s walking distance and a grocery store for my employees,” Silverman says about the Warehouse District.

Gallego also proposed a light rail extension into that district to accommodate Silverman’s request for more convenient transportation.

Main points:

 

-The economic recovery requires real estate developers to get creative, particularly in downtown Phoenix where more vibrant an urbanization is needed.

-R&R Partners marketing agency recently moved into the 1926 grocery warehouse at Second and Buchanan streets and is committed to historic preservation.

-Many worried the new location was unsafe due to the abandoned buildings, over-flooding and parking concerns. However, the area can be ideal if developers and the city work to meet the needs of future residents and business owners.

 -Developer Dave Krumwiede, Executive Vice President at Lincoln Property Company, says “if you occupy the space, the misconception of it being overpopulated by homeless people and danger will go away.” Some of his development plans include re-purposing a building to create more multifamily and closer grocery stores.

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