THE CENTRAL STATION TRANSIT CENTER DEVELOPMENT RFP: CONSIDERING THE FUTURE -Part 2

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See full Part 1 post  here https://phxdowntown.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/the-central-station-transit-center-development-rfp-considering-the-future-2/

-Part II

I applaud the city both for considering development of this parcel, and for seeking to use its revenue towards future transit needs. Now is definitely a good time for Phoenix to leverage some of its accrued assets to spur smart urban growth. While Phoenix may never be able to use real estate development the way Hong Kong MTR or New York/New Jersey Port Authority does for their transit funding, real estate needs to be looked at as a functional tool in specific locations to help fund our public transit infrastructure.

This is the perfect TOD site for the city to recapture its value added inputs from the light rail system, and re-invest that money into enhancing the network. However, as I alluded to in Part 1 of this post, I feel the city should continue to be the controlling party of the transit center as to not inhibit present or future transportation options. Ultimately, this is why I think a joint development project would be the best for this site.

Options:

I hope by now it is self evident why a simple land sale should be taken off the list of options for the transit center. In a land sale the city would lose control of transit functions and lose out on any future earning potential. While the City of Phoenix appears to be good at inflation and valuation adjusted land lease deals (Renaissance Square is a good example), a simple long term lease may not be the best option for retaining some control over the transit functions. Again, I am not only concerned about the current functions but the citys 30-100 year possible needs. Obviously, the city could lease air and subterranean rights while working with the developer to integrate the transit center into the design, but project finance and project risk may severely limit this as an option.

In my opinion this leaves a well structured joint development PPP as the best option (2). However, due to the complexity and forethought needed for such an arrangement, I again feel that holding off on the RFP until the institutional capacity and structures can be built seems the smartest path.  While the model below is what I suggest, there are hundreds of nuanced ways to structure such a deal.

City:

First the city should create a special purpose vehicle with the directive to maintain, develop and operate any parcels that the City Council deems as ‘Transit Centers’ (1). I will call this Phx-Trans-Co for simplicity. This organizational structure would be similar to The Downtown Phoenix Hotel Corporation but without the ability to issue bonds. The SPV (Phx-Trans-Co) helps dissipate some legal risk, helps mandate earnings toward transit functions, and helps create a buffer from political variance over long project cycles. The transit properties can be used as collateral, and the citys involvement diffuses some of the developers financial risk and borrowing costs.

SPV:

The Phx-Trans-Co should then look for a Design Build Finance Operate deal with any potential developers of this site. A DBFO makes Phx-Trans-Co the building owner but contractually the annual profits would go to the developer, less an appropriate percentage for transit connectivity. The intent being that taxpayers would recoup the value lost by not selling the land within 5 years of substantial completion, but all income would be directed toward mass transit projects. After the developers project payback period est. 30 years, Phx-Trans-Co should be allowed to receive a much higher profit share or buy out the contract.

Developer:

The developers key asset in this deal is the contract with the Phx-Trans-Co, which could be sold; with stipulations and any remaining debt, to other parties should they see financial need. With the ability to use the land as collateral at no upfront cost, and heavily implicit city backing, financing the project becomes easier for the developer. The developer would also not be responsible for property tax as the entire project is officially owned by a city entity. Although, the tax value is serendipitously being collected through the profit sharing agreement and funneled directly into transport functions.

In conclusion, I feel this would be the best way to deal with project finance and risk. This arrangement also deals with future transit center control issues while still earning the developer and city profit. Let me be clear this is a funding source, not a funding solution, and the potential income from this is minuscule when compared to the Light Rail operating budget. However, considering a land sale may only bring in enough money to fund one or two new stations, I believe this is a much smarter long term investment. This also creates a model and organizational capacity for future deals.

(1) This keeps the corporation from being able to buy or sell city land without City council oversight

(2) For more information on Joint Development in Transportation Infrastructure see
http://ppp.worldbank.org/public-private-partnership/sector/transportation

http://www.adb.org/documents/public-private-partnership-ppp-handbook

Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved

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The Central Station Transit Center Development RFP: Considering the Future- Part 1

As the city looks at development opportunities for this parcel of land, there are two interconnected points that I would like to express.

http://downtowndevil.com/2013/10/09/48835/city-looks-to-revamp-phoenix-central-station-explores-potential-of-multi-use-building

Part I. Key Points

With the South Central and Capitol West light rail extensions still under study it is too early to quantify this site’s true value. The RFP for this parcel should be put on hold until a better understanding of how these new alignments, and subsequent passengers will interact within the current downtown station configuration.

Part II. Key Points

This site should be considered for joint development (PPP). A properly structured deal would allow the city to benefit from this site’s long term earning potential while adding to our urban vibrancy today.

-Part I.

First, I feel that the city is premature in its desire to develop this property. I personally would love to see this parcel developed to its full density tomorrow, and given its location within the city, a utility value alone would bring in millions of dollars for city transportation projects. However, the bus and light rail lines give this property extra value in the form of access, and while all city services are considered access in the economic sense; in an urban setting, transportation access is typically of most value. Hard transportation infrastructure like light rail and subways, provide developers and business owners a confidence in longevity that soft transportation infrastructure e.g. bus routes cannot. These are the basic economic principles behind Transit Oriented Development(1). Because this station receives more boardings than any other within the light rail system the TOD potential for this parcel is very high.

With Valley Metro still studying how it will integrate the new South Central and Capitol West lines into the existing system, I contend that the value of this land will likely increase substantially, especially if the Transit Center starts to be used as a transfer station for separate rail lines. This is because pedestrian traffic increases greatly when comparing a destination station and a transfer station. It seems inevitable to me that Valley Metro will need to have a line transfer station somewhere downtown, and given the current track configuration the transit center is the most logical spot. Here is why.

It is unlikely that Valley Metro will run individual trains from Mesa to South Phoenix, West Phoenix, North Phoenix and in turn trains from these segments back to all other quadrants of the city. Simply because of timing issues, this would be inefficient even if trains were to run 100% full. Most likely the system will be divided into 2,3, or 4 individual lines determined by needed directness vs efficiency within current engineering limitations. Therefore, certain trips will require passengers to disembark and switch trains, just as in every major mass transit system around the world. Given our current system, this transfer load could be distributed over multiple stations in downtown. However, this typically makes timings and connections more difficult, unless you’re running trains and buses every 3-5 minutes which is unlikely given the current system demand and operation budget. This leaves a single station with connected line platforms as the best option for sequencing train timings, and reducing transfer cost(2). The transportation center therefore is the obvious first choice that meets these criteria, while additionally already servicing connections between the light rail system and metro bus system.

It is imperative for this reason that the city knows how this station will work into the greater Valley Metro configuration before any RFP is accepted. This is important not only for how pedestrian traffic may flow through the site or if any possible station configuration modifications may need, but it is also an economic concern. If the analysis shows substantially more boardings per year at these two stations, then the retail earnings potential of this site increases dramatically, and in turn the value at which the city can profit from the land is increased. I would suspect that the original developer who approached the city on this project has likely already made this calculation.

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1 I am quickly summarizing economic rents as applied to urban land (George, Ricardo, Smith)

2 ‘Transfer cost’ being all of the externalities that come from individuals switching between transit modes or lines.

Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved.

Urban Gas Stations; We Need A Long Term Strategy

With this latest attempt from Circle K to build a super-pump gas station at 7th Street and Roosevelt a larger question lingers. Is there a way to design a gas station that is more appropriate for urban environments? All anyone has to do is look to the Southwest corner of this intersection, or almost any Phoenix intersection to see how destructive these stations can be on a city’s urban fabric. This image causes most of us downtown to dread the day when we lose one of these battles. http://downtowndevil.com/2013/10/10/48908/phoenix-circle-k-permit-roosevelt

With this proposed station sitting at the divide between the Evans Churchill and Garfield neighborhoods, on a street that is at the center of local and national microscope of urban revitalization, lets hope that community involvement is sufficient to block this again. However, fights against some of the other proposed stations downtown may not receive the same attention, and corporations are well attuned at using money and attrition to win these fights over time. One of the things I have learned from years as a project manager is to always plan for the worst and find ways to mitigate the damage before it happens. Following that logic, some cities like Ottawa have started to adopt special design requirements for gas stations within their urban cores. http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/planning-and-development/community-plans-and-design-guidelines/design-and-planning-0-1-12

Can we create an urban code for gas stations in downtown Phoenix that changes the cost benefit analysis of these companies, and can we create it in such a way that even when we lose a fight we still get some urban continuity? While the City of Phoenix is working on, and making great strides incentivising and simplifying positive infill development, should there a place in the code for stipulating stringent requirements on specific types of negative infill development?

What guidelines and design ideas could be put forward to integrate urban form into a gas station design?

Below are some of my thoughts, and ideas.

  1. A new station should be required to have a minimum FSR/FAR of 1.0 and increase depending upon surrounding density. (e.g. 30,000 sq. ft lot would require 30,000 sq. ft of building space.) This would make building a station impossible in the densest of locations and force innovative designs for others. Having come back to Phoenix after two years of researching urban growth internationally (particularly India) I am surprised by how little we use Floor Space Ratio’s to guide our development patterns.
  2. Buildings such as car washes, garages, and connivence stores should be placed along access roads with minimal or no set back. At least half of each frontage should contain unobstructed viewing windows (not blacked out). Because watching a car pass through a mechanical wash is more interesting than a blank wall. (This came from the Ottawa code.)
  3. Buildings shall have one customer access point along each roadway and a maximum of two curb cuts per station, preferably as far away from an intersection as possible.
  4. Alleys may be used for trash pickup, fuel delivery, and site ingress or egress, but may not be blocked off or eliminated. This should entice designers to use existing curb cuts instead of adding new ones but it keeps the alley as publicly owned and accessible space.
  5. If a gas station is no longer the sites primary use than all tanks shall be removed and a public plaza created with one tree or bench installed for every removed pump. This is a pipe dream I know, but 50 years down the road this could create some welcome urban space. Ive seen some amazing small urban spaces, my favorite may still be Greenacre Park in New York (http://www.sasaki.com/project/111/)

With such requirements in place a loss would be less painful and could allow for the creation of something similar to the idea below. (forgive the crudeness of the design). This is based off a 150’ X 200’ lot and the building is approximately 30,000 sq. ft. Meeting the 1.0 FSR. There are still a few considerations lacking in this design. The denser the site the greater possible fire code issues emerge possibly requiring chemical suppressants designed into the site or canopy. This design may also create a greater crime potential with the pumps being away from the street, and the environmental hazard of gasoline storage tanks and leeks would not lessen or change.

I intend this post to start a conversation and help to bring forth some ideas about how to deal with this growing urban issue in the long term.

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Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved.

Comments and Concerns over The Hance Park (Deck Park) redevelopment.

I was glad to attend the community charette on Hance Park redevelopment last week, and have an active discussion over possibilities for the parks future. I used that time and format as an opportunity to voice my desires as a downtown resident over some possible amenities and ideas for the park. However, the entire process that night seemed mainly about white washing a fundamentally flawed park and very little discussion took place on fixing the problems. Therefore, I hope that many of the structural concerns I list below are being discussed and addressed through other forums and meetings. This is a great opportunity to fix some of our past mistakes, and truly improve downtown livability.

Most great urban parks serve as a connector. They should drive pedestrian traffic in and through to other places. A great park cannot just be a destination. A great park also has to serve as a detour and refuge on the way to somewhere else; and can we for once have a parking lot free space in this city..

In my opinion the park has the following functional flaws. First it lacks identity, despite having so many great existing key assets. Second the orientation of those assets, and the parks general urban connectivity problems, serve as a hindrance, creating an isolated space. It is my concern that without fixing these two issues, all the hard work and great intentions of many people may create a great show piece for a few years, but not a day to day functional urban park.

-Identity and Key Assets

Consider the following list of key assets. (I am sure that I have missed some)

    1. Central Phoenix Library
    2. Phoenix Center for the Arts
    3. Irish Cultural Center
    4. Jewish heritage Center
    5. Japanese Friendship Garden
    6. Phoenix Trolly Museum
    7. Two Light Rail Stops within 1/2 mile
    8. Linch pin connecting Downtown and Midtown

The park is at the intersecting center of a modern diverse Phoenix, and it needs to be a park celebrating and exploring our Arts and Culture, who we are, and who we want to be. This seems intuitive to me given the buildings, events, and neighborhoods surrounding it. The other Identity issue to be solved is whether this is truly an urban park? If this is an urban park, for urban residents, workers, and visitors then get rid of all the parking lots. Yes, I am suggesting that people should have to walk or bike a block or two, to enjoy the park and amenities. Even the library and culture centers have to re-evaluate, eliminate, and share parking resources.

-Orientation and Connectivity

Not one of the assets listed above integrates or focuses it’s activity or entrance onto the park. It is obvious that all of these stakeholders treat the park the same as they would an 8 lane Interstate.

While the library is mainly mentioned in this regard, it at least has windows on the park and retains the ability for better integration. The idea for indoor/outdoor reading and cafe space is always welcome, and I also wonder if the lower roof structure on the South side could be accessed or utilized as vertical space?

The Phoenix Center for the Arts is already well connected and feels a part of the park. I would however, like to see Moreland Street become more of a shared space style corridor allowing the adjacent properties to blend into the park and become future homes for other art, culture, and entertainment centers. The Jewish Heritage Center would front the park if not for the parking lot and subsequent worthless turning circle. Also the residents along Culver St. should not have to cross a parking lot to access the park.

The Irish Cultural Center, and The Japanese Friendship Gardens, need to have their primary entrance, or at least a secondary entrance onto the park. May I suggest replacing the parking lot between them with a flower garden entrance to both facilities. Japanese flowers, and sunflowers could return a bit of what has been lost, also Irish wildflowers are appropriate for many celebrations.

Then there is the Trolly Museum. I wish I could have attended the revitalization meeting to hear the ideas put forth. I don’t have any ground breaking ideas here just two ghostly notions that need to be written down. First the obvious then and now contrast between the light rail going by the historic Phoenix trolleys. Second during the park meeting it was mentioned that many great urban parks have an interactive or moving element. It would be great if the park redevelopment somehow highlighted this moving piece of our history.

While the park needs to serve the city and all of its residents during special occasions, it needs to serve the surrounding community every day of the week. This is how you bring new residents to a city and into a downtown, and this is how you create new property tax revenue from empty lots. You improve the quality of life, and you create permanent investors in the community. We need to be creating a park that people want to live around and bike or walk through, not just a park that people happen to drive to once a year for an event.

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Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved.

The Proposed Interstate -11: Phoenix and the Amalgamation.

Key points. 

-Opposition to the sprawl inducing Hassayampa freeway alignment.

-Support for an alignment that realizes Phoenix’s primacy, stimulating infill and density over sprawl.

-Key requirement being the co-development of regional rail and improvements for future commuter rail.

-In this case, Phoenix’s regional primacy needs to be asserted to insist on smarter growth. 

I grew up at 88th Avenue and Pinnacle Peak, this is when 83rd Avenue was a two lane road and citrus trees lined both sides. Most of the land around our house was still desert, and so the desert was kind of my backyard. Seeing suburban sprawl overtake most of places I spent my childhood is part of why I am now such an ardent urbanist. This background makes me believe that if the I-11 project comes to fruition, it should be part of a larger ‘smart growth’ strategy, and I feel the current proposal is deficient in that regard. 

Background:

The Arizona Department of Transportation and Nevada Department of Transportation are working together on the Interstate 11 (I-11) and Intermountain West Corridor Study that includes detailed corridor planning of a possible high-priority Interstate link between Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada (I-11), as well as high-level visioning for potentially extending the Corridor north to Canada and south to Mexico (the Intermountain West Corridor). The Corridor is proposed to include an upgraded highway facility, but it could be paired with rail and other major infrastructure components—such as energy and telecommunications—to serve the nation’s needs from Mexico to Canada.

The study finds that the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor is indeed justified and that the Corridor is needed for the following key reasons:

  •  Transportation is a key enabler of economic development. 

  •  There is currently a lack of sufficient north-south capacity for existing goods movement or any increase in economic activity in Arizona and Nevada. 

  •  The effective integration of the economies of the Southwest Triangle mega region (Southern California, Sun Corridor, and Las Vegas) will require continuing investment in transportation capacity over the planning horizon of the study. This mega region, and particularly the cities of Phoenix and Las Vegas, are poorly served by surface transportation when compared to other U.S. cities of comparable size and proximity, and the areas lacks sufficient connectivity to the rest of the Intermountain West.             (I-11 AND INTERMOUNTAIN WEST CORRIDOR STUDY- Draft 7-2-13)

First let me be clear what parts of the current proposal I agree with. 

  1. The need for faster and easer passenger and commercial transport between Nogales, Tucson, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Especially as Arizona tries to compete with Texas and California for cross border trade. 
  2. The minimal changes to US-95 between Las Vegas and Wickenburg required to upgrade the designation.
  3. Infrastructure for freight and passenger rail between the two cities.
  4. Tying the new Interstate into any of the current or future state highways that are part of the regional plan. I may not completely agree with the current plan but that is another post entirely.

I am completely against the following part of the proposal.

  1. The Hassayampa freeway. This is the section slated to run completely around Phoenix and tie into I-10 around Casa Grande. (I am taking to calling this Loop 909)
  2. Any proposal that is not in conjunction with regional, Intercity rail lines (Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas) and future right of way use for commuter rail. 

                                       ImageMap #1

Explanation:

The Hassayampa freeway (see map #1) runs from Wickenburg down to I-10 then loops around to run parallel with I-8 separated by very few miles in some sections. One of the big supposed selling points of I-11 is that Phoenix and Las Vegas are the only million plus population cities not connected by interstate. I hate to be the one to point out that the current proposal never gets closer to Phoenix than Buckeye. (40 miles from Downtown) 

This loop around is all about one thing. Providing access for building large master planed communities between the White tanks and Hassayampa River. The entire section from Wickenburg to I-10 is incorporated into the City of Buckeye, and is being published as a possible PPP (private public partnership) highway between the developers and ADOT. It is being sold as a way to bypass Phoenix congestion and reduce pollution, just as as 101,202, and 303 were before. Currently 100 communities have been approved for this corridor, which of course will only add to the congestion and pollution. This has to be viewed as an attempt to add one more ring of sprawl to the Phoenix metro landscape, all to benefit leap frog developers.

I believe what would be best for Phoenix is to instead continue the Southeast alignment down US 60/Grand Ave to I-17. I’m sure many will disagree but let me briefly explain why and how. 

Why:

The expected growth of the Phoenix region from 4.2 million to 8 million requires a massive re-working of the current development model. Most of the regional plans are in expectation of the 4 million new residents to add to the circumference of the city, building 4th and 5th generation suburban rings. However, given current demographic shifts, and the unsustainable nature of such expansive sprawl, we should be planning for a different scenario. We have to expect, plan, and provide tools for up to 50% of the population growth to take place on city infill lots and through increased urban core densification. The current regional transportation plan does not address this adequately. 

Part of the I-11 proposal is the mention of a high speed rail corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas. I highly doubt any plans for passenger rail service between the two cities would not follow the current rail alignment down US 60 into Downtown Phoenix thus requiring possible signal and grade separation through the traditional and historic urban cores that sit along the highway.Grand Avenue (US-60) is still a hodgepodge of partial flyovers, train crossings, worthless intersections, and historic access roads, reminding me of the urban patched highways of Bombay more than anywhere else I’ve ever been. It is a massive problem and an amazing asset for anyone wanting to see Phoenix build with density and in-fill rather than sprawl and jump development. 

How:

(see map #2)

Continuing a major interstate through historic Wickenburg without destroying or economically isolating the city is a problem. A bypass may not be the answer, but neither is a direct shot through the town.Upgrading the junction at SR-74 which is already now part of the projected regional system gives the first access to North Phoenix and Cave Creek. A full interchange at the 303 loop provides additional eastward access and allows connection to I-10 west. 303 is already slighted to continue south from I-10 to the 808 and then tie into SR-85 and serve as access to I-8 east and west. I will call this ‘Phoenix bypass #3’.

From 303 to 101 there are limited crossings and a standard urban freeway template could be used. The tracks on the western side of the roadway do create extra hight requirements and complicated on/off ramp issues but nothing that hasn’t been done before. The connection to 101 provides further east/west and north/south connections including access to the future south mountain loop 202, ‘Phoenix bypass #2’.

From this point things get complicated, but again non of these problems are new or unprecedented. Peoria has already planed to lower and deck portions of US-60 in-order to re-unify its downtown. I would assume this would happen in Glendale maybe Surprise and possibly at other strategic locations in Phoenix (think Big dig I-93 but before things get too congested). All of this would finally end at I-17 providing I-11 actual access to Phoenix and of course the original ‘downtown bypass #1’, I-17 south. 

US-60/ Grand Avenue from I-17 to VanBuren than should be given historic status as the City’s western gateway, building on the work already being done. With dedicated passenger rail lines now along this key corridor commuter rail is all the more possible stoping at the historic town sites and key locations between Wickenburg and Phoenix downtown. With both additional interstate connectivity and rail options infill and denser development will be constructed along this route as opposed to adding to sprawl between the White Tank Mountains and the Hassayampa River bed. 

Yes, this will be more expensive. Yes, this would be a complicated project, but anyone who doesn’t foresee it having to happen in the next 40 years anyway is making a huge mis-judgment on the future development of the region, and the demographic changes occurring nation wide. The I-11 designation would just add the possibility of federal funds to a project that will help the Phoenix region develop and grow smart instead of irresponsibly. 

The City of Phoenix (with the help of all Grand Avenue cities) needs to use all of it’s leverage with ADOT, and MAG to mandate that any Phoenix to Las Vegas transportation corridor benefits in-fill growth and smart development. While Phoenix has very little leverage over the other local municipalities. It does have de facto political power because of its primacy. The project is being sold on the claim that it connects the two big metropolitan cities. Phoenix needs to make clear that the current proposal falls short of that claim and thus diminishes the possible economic impact of the project. The mere threat of losing any Federal support should be enough to make most State and regional officials contemplate modifying the plan.

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Map #2

ImageMap #3

Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved.

Taylor Street New Pedestrian Signal

I have been meaning to write about Taylor Street for some time and since the City of Phoenix has started work on the pedestrian signal at Taylor and 3rd street now seems like the time.

First the new signal helps add to, one of the city’s best walking streets. Because the super block created by the Arizona Center, Taylor dead ends at this busy traffic crossing with only pavement markings to indicate a pedestrians right of way. Hopefully, the signal will help make this a much more pedestrian friendly crossing and possibly activate the Arizona Centers under utilized third entrance.

So why is Taylor a good walking street? For an East-West street it has a decent amount of shade from the Phoenix sun, the buildings and the tight line of Palo Verde trees all help in this regard. It has destinations at both ends; Space Park / Fitness center on one end and Arizona Center/ (Bio Med campus, if integrated right) on the other end. Because of the ASU buildings there is typically always some individuals walking down the street at least while school is in. With this new signal, all the crossings have either quick pedestrian signals or stop signs. The sidewalks are all protected either by parked cars, wide planters, or no traffic, so it feels comfortable to walk down.

Of course things could be better. The Green Lot and Sheridan parking structure make the south side far less attractive. The pedestrian mall between 1st street and Central only works because of the University buildings, and my guess is that this new signal is only a result of lobbying from ASU and not because the City is concerned about any other pedestrians in the area; ok, maybe ushering the Sheridan’s guests to the shopping center was considered. But hey it is still a helpful addition to a street I choose to walk down often. Now if only there were more of them.

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Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved.

Adams Street Canyon

With the upcoming Phoenix public forums ‘Charrettes’ on pedestrianizing and re-developing Adams street between 2nd and Central on April 23rd and 24th, I figured I should get some of my thoughts written out. Here are a few quick ideas I had while walking through the space this week.

  1. Create a Shared Space design from the curb of the Convention center to the West side of central. Shared space design is the use of paving material in different colors, textures, and gradual gradient changes to indicate traditional pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile right-of-ways. This still allows for local auto access to businesses and hotels, but tells drivers that the pedestrian has the right of way. I’m partial to this one near my former flat in Brighton. (See Picture #1)
  2. Extend the roof line of the ‘Shard’ like structure protruding from the convention center all the way to 1st street keeping the off camber slope frame design. This is to provide shade, pedestrian scale and design connectivity. (See Picture #2)
  3. Create small retail, single story shops along the blank north hotel wall between 2nd and 1st streets. Infill the S.E. corner of Central and Adams with short front (East to West) but deep length (North to South) 2 story Retail/Restaurant space.
  4. Use canvas and fabric shade structures from 1st street down to central gradually rising in height as they cross Central and the Light Rail. Similar structures are used to shade pedestrian streets in Madrid. (See Picture #3)
  5. Overall design characteristics should invoke a slot or side canyon feeding off of the Convention centers ‘Grand Canyon’ inspired design. Let it be narrow at 2nd street and open up gradually. Tapered and undulating surfaces could be designed towards functional increase of air circulation like in canyons and many Mediterranean villages. (See Pictures #4,5)

There are so many possible ideas and concerns involved with this project. I hope some of my thoughts help stimulate your own.

http://www.facebook.com/notes/downtown-voices-coalition/community-charrettes-for-adams-st-activation-study-april-23-24/509333179126605

Picture 1Picture #2Picture #3

Picture #1 Brighton, UK                                   Picture #2 ‘Shard’@ Adams              Picture #3 Madrid

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Picture #4 Asilah                                           Picture #5 Canyon

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Jeffery is a native Phoenix area resident and lives in the Downtown Evans Churchill neighborhood. He has a Masters in Globalization and Development from The University of Sussex – Institute of Development Studies and a Political Science B.A. From A.S.U. He currently works as a Project Manager for a Phoenix based small business. All opinions are strictly his own. All rights on written and creative ideas are reserved. Pictures 1,3,5- Are not the Authors nor does he clam any creative right to them.