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  #21  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 3:50 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Originally Posted by pbenjamin View Post
Is that really an historic building? I thought it was built in the last 20 years. (I could be wrong, often am..)
Finally found an answer. It is indeed historic, built in 1931.

http://www.roadarch.com/deco/azphoenix.html
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  #22  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 3:57 AM
Jackdavis4 Jackdavis4 is offline
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Is that Aloft Hotel on Adams and Central just a conceptual design or is there any substance behind it? That would be sweet to have there
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  #23  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 3:59 AM
doppelbanger doppelbanger is offline
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I wish it was something trendier like an Aloft, bring some energy to the area. Like it was mentioned, Hilton Garden Inn just sounds small town and boring. I can't see going to a cool bar at a Hilton Garden Inn.
I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn a few months ago in Chicago and thought it was a great hotel. Is it flashy, trendy Vegas? No. But still a good hotel. Just a shame that this and Luhrs weren't built in time for this Superbowl. They would have loved those inflated rates.
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  #24  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 4:15 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackdavis4 View Post
Is that Aloft Hotel on Adams and Central just a conceptual design or is there any substance behind it? That would be sweet to have there
It was proposed and real around 2007/2008. It got very far along in the permitting process before it was cancelled. A big missed opportunity, for sure.
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  #25  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 4:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Jjs5056 View Post
Finally found an answer. It is indeed historic, built in 1931.

http://www.roadarch.com/deco/azphoenix.html
Thanks for researching that.
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  #26  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 4:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jjs5056 View Post
Finally found an answer. It is indeed historic, built in 1931.

http://www.roadarch.com/deco/azphoenix.html
I think that website is mistaken. I have been told by multiple people that the structure is kind of a faux historic building. It's a pastiche of old parts from other historic buildings that have been knocked over in the past. Which makes sense when you look at it, it's lay out seems awfully perfect for a modern restaurant, and the oversized picture windows don't quite fit the rest of the style of the building.
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  #27  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 6:21 PM
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I think that website is mistaken. I have been told by multiple people that the structure is kind of a faux historic building. It's a pastiche of old parts from other historic buildings that have been knocked over in the past. Which makes sense when you look at it, it's lay out seems awfully perfect for a modern restaurant, and the oversized picture windows don't quite fit the rest of the style of the building.
I think this is mostly correct. Below is a slider of historic photographs, the left side is present day, the right side is from 1982. That building didn't show up on site until the Renaissance Buildings were built, demolishing the entire block of what was once there.

It was either moved there on site in the early 1990s (possible it's one whole building I guess), or more likely built like Hoover says above.

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  #28  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 6:22 PM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Originally Posted by HooverDam View Post
I think that website is mistaken. I have been told by multiple people that the structure is kind of a faux historic building. It's a pastiche of old parts from other historic buildings that have been knocked over in the past. Which makes sense when you look at it, it's lay out seems awfully perfect for a modern restaurant, and the oversized picture windows don't quite fit the rest of the style of the building.
According to this site, it's even on the Historic National registry: http://travelphotobase.com/s/AZPH.HTM

I'm not sure how much a structure can be altered and qualify, but I wouldn't be surprised if it actually held several commercial businesses at one point with entrances where the large windows have been installed.

I can't see how/why Renaissance Square wouldn't have had it demolished or moved as it creates a pretty significant barrier to their retail plaza. Which, looking at the photos posted by PHX, is a definite loss compared to what was there (surprise). They could have easily left the tower on Central/Adams as their retail is never fully leased out and the main courtyard is hidden and inward-facing.

On the topic of this area of Adams I have two questions - one on the Renaissance Hotel, and the second on HP.

Renaissance Hotel
After a bit of Googling, I discovered that there are three business very much open on the ground level of the Renaissance (despite the closure of the Starbucks space): Marston's Cafe at Central and Adams (entrance off Central), ICON Lounge (patio fronts Adams to the east of the drop-off, but is accessed through the lobby), and a full service salon/spa that I believe is located on 1st Street/Adams (accessed via Adams)... this may seem like an exaggeration, but I truly believe one of downtown's biggest failures is SIGNAGE. There should be several, large signs indicating these businesses, even if their main target is hotel guests.

Downtown's reputation is all about perception. And, this well-frequented area has a lot more going on then you would know from driving or walking around. There needs to be:

1) Wall-mounted letters on Central for Marston's above the arch, with a perpendicular sign protruding into the street (like the signs at Orpheum or Luhrs) at around car level; benches or cafe seating on Central
2) Wall-mounted letters on Adams above the arches for both ICON Lounge and the salon/spa, with maybe some curtains/treatment to the arches near the ICON patio

Other HP Questions
In 1989, there was supposed to be a development on the entire block where Phelps Dodge sits called Square One by the same developers of Renaissance Square. This article mentions that two historic buildings were going to be saved, Hanny's and Switzer's, and that a third - the Stroud - was going to be moved to the government district brick-by-brick.

Article: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/1989-...uare-one/full/

Obviously, this development fell through, but how/why did the Switzer and Stroud end up being demolished instead of preserved as originally planned? The Switzer's address was 25 E Adams, which I believe is the empty lot on Adams/Central, so there's no reason for it to have been demo'd - Phelps Dodge doesn't even extend onto that lot at all, and was probably built years after it was destroyed. Meanwhile, I realize how poor the City handles HP issues, but if they had an agreement with one developer to preserve the Stroud, why did they either 1) break that agreement, or 2) allow a new developer to destroy it? It was demo'd in 1989, the same year that it was supposed have been moved. I don't have photos of the Switzer building, just one link regarding it (http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2014/...itzers-stores/), but if it's anything like the Stroud, what a loss for Phoenix as these kind of buildings would have been great complements to the type of structures around Central/Adams in what is still the most ped-friendly area of town, but could be so much more so.

Link to The Stroud in its various forms: https://books.google.com/books?id=YC...hoenix&f=false
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  #29  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 6:55 PM
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I've seen that book online that talks about the Stroud building, and it's a shame to see what could have been saved. Not to mention all of the other historic houses that met similar fates.

I don't know why signage is so poor, but city code on signing is pretty restrictive. They don't want signs all over the place. Back in the day (early 20th century) the mass amounts of signing looks good to us now, but eventually fell out of favor. Imagine similar amounts of modern signage... it would look like shite.
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  #30  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 7:51 PM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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I've seen that book online that talks about the Stroud building, and it's a shame to see what could have been saved. Not to mention all of the other historic houses that met similar fates.

I don't know why signage is so poor, but city code on signing is pretty restrictive. They don't want signs all over the place. Back in the day (early 20th century) the mass amounts of signing looks good to us now, but eventually fell out of favor. Imagine similar amounts of modern signage... it would look like shite.
There's definitely a balance, I agree. But, the signs over at Luhrs are extremely classy and almost discreet; but, they at least announce to pedestrians and drivers that there is a business inside. And, simple block lettering on the facade (similar to the Renaissance sign itself) would help break up the beige and wouldn't look over-the-top; I definitely wouldn't propose any interior illumination, which has been allowed over at CityScape and looks terrible IMO.

Whatever the zoning is, there has to be a way to at least place one sign for your business on the building exterior, and that's not even been done. I have been trying to support downtown for 7+ years and always assumed that Adams was a deadzone in that area, when the reviews for both Marston's and ICON Lounge are fairly good.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2015, 8:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jjs5056 View Post
Renaissance Hotel
After a bit of Googling, I discovered that there are three business very much open on the ground level of the Renaissance (despite the closure of the Starbucks space): Marston's Cafe at Central and Adams (entrance off Central), ICON Lounge (patio fronts Adams to the east of the drop-off, but is accessed through the lobby), and a full service salon/spa that I believe is located on 1st Street/Adams (accessed via Adams)... this may seem like an exaggeration, but I truly believe one of downtown's biggest failures is SIGNAGE. There should be several, large signs indicating these businesses, even if their main target is hotel guests.
For what it's worth, Youngblood Haircutters has been there since about 1990. Terry Kelley, the owner, has been cutting my hair (what there is of it) since the 80's. She previously worked at a salon in the San Carlos Hotel. Her clientele includes a lot of local political people.
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  #32  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 3:24 AM
HX_Guy HX_Guy is offline
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Update on Hotel Monroe...

Quote:
Hotel Monroe misses Super Bowl, but sees movement on work

Jim Poulin / Phoenix Business Journal

At one point, the owners of the historic Hotel Monroe building hoped to have a new Hilton Garden Inn open at the downtown Phoenix property in time for Super Bowl XLIX.

They missed that mark — one of the busiest weekends ever for downtown Phoenix — by a lot. Part of the reason was that neither the city of Phoenix nor Maricopa County could maneuver property tax breaks for the long-vacant building at Central Avenue and Monroe Street.

Minneapolis-based CSM Corp. was able to get a loan from the Phoenix Industrial Authority and construction has started on the historic building.

The Hilton is slated to open in 2016. That's in time for Super Bowl 50 — in San Francisco.

The Ryan Cos. is working on the 13-story building, which sat vacant for years after getting caught up in the Mortgages Ltd. bankruptcy debacle.
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  #33  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 3:57 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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I have a feeling we'll see the retail spaces stay vacant for quite a long time at $34/sq feet. For comparison's sake, the vacant retail at The Summit is $18.
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  #34  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 1:47 PM
exit2lef exit2lef is online now
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I have a feeling we'll see the retail spaces stay vacant for quite a long time at $34/sq feet. For comparison's sake, the vacant retail at The Summit is $18.
Just what we need -- more vacant ground floor retail blighting Downtown. I know you and I disagree about this. You want more retail space; I want no more until what we have already is full. Trying to get beyond that difference of opinion, what practical steps do you recommend to overcome this gap between asking price and realistic rent:

rent control?

higher tax rates on vacant retail space?

subsidies for businesses to offset high rents?

I don't think the odds are good that any of those would be approved, so I'm really at a loss as to how to solve this problem.
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  #35  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 10:29 PM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Just what we need -- more vacant ground floor retail blighting Downtown. I know you and I disagree about this. You want more retail space; I want no more until what we have already is full. Trying to get beyond that difference of opinion, what practical steps do you recommend to overcome this gap between asking price and realistic rent:

rent control?

higher tax rates on vacant retail space?

subsidies for businesses to offset high rents?

I don't think the odds are good that any of those would be approved, so I'm really at a loss as to how to solve this problem.
I knew you would have a say on this. But, no, I don't "want more retail." I want more retail in places where it makes sense for the longterm planning of the area. Certainly, Monroe/Central qualifies. Once leased, that will make Adams and Monroe from 1st Ave - 2nd St the most urban-feeling areas of downtown. Without it, the hotel is essentially a deadzone with a massive car dropoff on Monroe.

But, I posted the rents as insight into why downtown is blighted with so much empty retail. It isn't a demand issue, IMO. Look at Roosevelt - Paz moved right into The Local, Songbird is being replaced, the Dressing Room, 800M, and Next Level are all opening up... it's the spaces in poor locations (Skyline - facing parking lots and non-commercial uses) or charging outrageous rents (Hilton Monroe, Roosevelt Point) that are the problems. The Summit is an anomaly to me; seems like the perfect location for a bar or 24/7 diner. But, I also think that it's crazy how Jackson St never organically took off with its close proximity to the venues and CityScape.

I don't know what the solution is. For a project like the Monroe HGI, I don't understand why they need to charge such outrageous rents when they're receiving such heavy tax incentives. Why can't that money trickle down into reasonable asking prices? Surely, renting out spaces at a lower rate beats sitting on empty inventory indefinitely? But, who knows - maybe location will trump affordability, and these spaces will indeed get leased out.

For other empty retail spaces, the solution is simply a better market that brings complementary retail and residential density to the immediate area. Roosevelt is essentially a ghost town - once iLuminate and Union are built, Roosevelt Point might have a shot. Skyline might always struggle because it's forever surrounded by mono-use parking, but its north side shows that mixed use in key locations is a solid long-term strategy: it'll soon be adjacent to the live/work units of 4th/McKinley, which will create a nice enclave of neighborhood retail that can build off each other.

Lastly, I wonder if the retail portion of the newer mixed use projects are just not profitable enough for the developers to even bother with aggressive marketing strategies. So, while leasing it out would be a benefit, the empty spaces really aren't impacting the bottom line that much? I can't think of why else certain projects seem to do really well with their leasing, while others languish. There's really no reason why a Roosevelt Point shouldn't be able to attract regional chains (since I'd be beheaded for suggesting national chains on Roosevelt) like the more successful mixed use/retail projects. Similar to developers sitting on empty lots, maybe there needs to be some kind of incentive for owners to do something with their empty space? Then, we would see them looking for solutions like more aggressive marketing, converting spaces into live/work units, creating incubator programs with 1 year's free rent for winners, etc.
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  #36  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 10:48 PM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Check out this article. It seems to back up a lot of what I am trying to say.
https://www.djc.com/news/re/12024308.html

It seems many of Phoenix's retail failures can be attributed to missing the mark on several of his points.
1. Building retail near other retail - Skyline, Summit
2. Building retail for retail - I've continuously heard that Tapestry's spaces are just not conducive to restaurant uses, and let's face it, downtown isn't grabbing any clothing retailers let alone Midtown
3. Market retail from day one - I wouldn't be surprised to see Union's retail fill up as even I have noticed their marketing for the commercial component; meanwhile, this clearly wasn't a priority for places like Summit and 44Monroe where they were so focused on selling units in the recession
4. Set realistic rates/TI improvements - I've heard the TI allowances are another major issue with both Roosevelt Point and Tapestry, and it's clear that the prices of many of these spaces is just simply too high for the market
5. Pick your tenants - this ties into #3; landlords need to be actively seeking and building relationships with potential tenants... I don't see that happening

Another thing I mentioned re: Skyline, but wanted to expand on is the importance of parking. We all hate how Phoenix is so auto-dominated, but it's reality, and no retailer is going to want to open in a space where there is no immediate parking. That's why the side streets are better fits for a lot of these small businesses, where streetside parking is abundant. For Skyline, you're expecting customers to find you at an intersection of 3 parking lots, and then be motivated enough to visit your establishment that they're willing to seek out parking or park in the Skyline garage. That just isn't a reasonable expectation, and is another reason why the removal of parallel parking along Roosevelt is a huge disaster.
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  #37  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 11:59 PM
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I don't know what the solution is. For a project like the Monroe HGI, I don't understand why they need to charge such outrageous rents when they're receiving such heavy tax incentives.
From what I have heard, they were denied their request for GPLETs. What other tax incentives are they getting?
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  #38  
Old Posted Feb 22, 2015, 12:34 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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From what I have heard, they were denied their request for GPLETs. What other tax incentives are they getting?
You're right. I read this line quickly and, because it came directly after they discussed the failed GPLETs, interpreted it as tax breaks.

"Minneapolis-based CSM Corp. was able to get a loan from the Phoenix Industrial Authority and construction has started on the historic building."
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  #39  
Old Posted Feb 22, 2015, 1:00 PM
exit2lef exit2lef is online now
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Originally Posted by Jjs5056 View Post
Check out this article. It seems to back up a lot of what I am trying to say.
https://www.djc.com/news/re/12024308.html
It does, but it also backs up what I'm saying, particularly with these words: "Consider dropping the retail altogether, or using other methods to achieve your desired height or density if you don’t see retail succeeding."

Most recently built ground floor retail along the light rail corridor has remained vacant years after opening. We can point to bad design and unrealistic rents as the causes, but can we eliminate those factors through legislation? I doubt our local city councils are willing to be that prescriptive, and if even they were, the state legislature would probably overrule them. In light of that situation, it's probably better to leave this to market forces. Cities should stop requiring or strongly encouraging ground floor retail. When they do, developers build poorly designed, overpriced space knowing they can offset the loss by charging more for the other uses in the building. If, on the other hand, we wait for more demand for retail to exist, we'll see higher quality space at competitive rents.

Last edited by exit2lef; Feb 22, 2015 at 2:46 PM.
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  #40  
Old Posted Feb 22, 2015, 6:33 PM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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It does, but it also backs up what I'm saying, particularly with these words: "Consider dropping the retail altogether, or using other methods to achieve your desired height or density if you don’t see retail succeeding."

Most recently built ground floor retail along the light rail corridor has remained vacant years after opening. We can point to bad design and unrealistic rents as the causes, but can we eliminate those factors through legislation? I doubt our local city councils are willing to be that prescriptive, and if even they were, the state legislature would probably overrule them. In light of that situation, it's probably better to leave this to market forces. Cities should stop requiring or strongly encouraging ground floor retail. When they do, developers build poorly designed, overpriced space knowing they can offset the loss by charging more for the other uses in the building. If, on the other hand, we wait for more demand for retail to exist, we'll see higher quality space at competitive rents.
The City has a responsibility to plan/zone areas for the uses that will provide the best economic results in the short- and long-term, IMO. That means designating some areas as commercial districts, where any building built should be mixed use. Phoenix is building a downtown from scratch; it would be a horrible strategy to not try and build these corridors. As I've said, and the article states, retail cannot succeed in a vacuum. So, places like Roosevelt Row need to be zoned as such and if the market doesn't support commercial/retail, then ALL projects should be held off in that area until it rebounds. The long-term vitality of the area is better off waiting for the right projects than to hastily build mono-use buildings that will ultimately create deadzones and create a built environment that has a patchwork of retail that can't feed off other successful retail.

But, the whole point is that #5 which you quote should only happen when #1-#4 have been exhausted and my argument is that, the market hasn't shown to be the issue in downtown. It's that #1-#4 have not been soundly applied in several instances. The only place where #5 might have been relevant is the south side of Skyline lofts, but they were probably banking on growth nearby that wasn't limited to parking garages. Still, its north side proves the market is just fine for retail, but that something about its strategy for the south is amiss.

I think you greatly exaggerate the amount of vacant retail built along the light rail corridor. Besides Tapestry and Grigio Metro in Tempe, I can't think of any others that have been failures. Others took time, or have certain spaces struggling, but that's just reality of a market that is still waiting for more residential investment. For those 3 failures, there's a dozen or more with successful occupancy rates.

I agree there isn't anything that can or should be legislated. Urban form and zoning guidelines should be adhered to, and areas like Roosevelt Row should continue to call for ground level retail while residential areas like W McKinley - W Roosevelt should call for urban residential. If the market is hot for commercial space, we wouldn't want an office building plopped in a residential neighborhood. So, we shouldn't want a mono-use residential building plopped onto Roosevelt when the multifamily market is hot.
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