The American dream of homeownership (that picket fence, the half-acre lot) has been embedded in our consciousness for decades, and no more so than in cities like Phoenix, Arizona. The problem with this vision is that it has caught up to us; the reality is not the fantasy that urban planners of the 1940’s and ‘50’s sold us all. There is a coalition in Phoenix that hopes to begin sprawl repair, and even an office within the city to aid in the proliferation of walkable, interesting, and healthy neighborhoods.
The coalition consists of local business owners, the City of Phoenix, and real estate developers in the area, all of which have an interest in infill development and adaptive reuse for the purposes of having a great location, a cool older building, or just recycling what we already have. At a recent event held on Arizona State University’s downtown campus, in the (appropriately) historic, adaptively reused A.E. England Building, the coalition identified possible buildings, city policy, and even funding sources for use.
Historic A.E. England Building
Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona, a network of local businesses in Arizona which emphasizes the importance of shopping locally and supporting local businesses in all aspects, hosted the meeting. Among the invited representatives were those from the City of Phoenix’s Office of Customer Advocacy, part of the City’s urban planning department. The Office of Customer Advocacy is dedicated to easing small businesses through the land development process, which is often burdensome for businesses that are unfamiliar with the labyrinthine regulatory atmosphere in Phoenix. Recently, the Office began to develop an infill advisory committee, which consists of citizens and business people involved in the infill process.
Historic Orpheum Lofts
All of this aided by the City’s efforts with Reinvent Phoenix, which aims to rezone neighborhoods near the light rail corridor for denser, more walkable development (I wrote about this earlier, here).
There is a lot of work to be done, but I believe that the City of Phoenix has taken a step down the right path in order to develop more interesting and walkable neighborhoods.
What has your city done to aid in the adaptive reuse or infill of their neighborhoods?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Photos by James Gardner.