15 Things to Watch For in 2015
With the launch of Grid Bike Share and new events like Viva PHX, 2014 rounded out to be quite the year for Downtown Phoenix. More people are living and visiting the core, new businesses, restaurants and events are attracting more activity, and there’s a progressive interest in enhancing the walkable, urban and vibrant downtown we want. The downtown story is still being written, with several major projects, developments, openings and events already in the works for 2015. Here are 15 we’re excited about.
1. Super Bowl Central
It’s the game everyone’s talking about, and it’s at our doorsteps in just two weeks. Super Bowl Central is coming downtown from Wednesday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Feb. 1 for several days of game-related activities. Both visitors and residents are invited to partake in the festivities, which include a 30-by-100-foot rock wall with a waterfall in the center as well as musical performances by Walk the Moon and The Roots. Coming downtown? Live downtown? Here’s some tips to get you in and around the core.
2. Opening of the Space Between Pocket Park
A vacant piece of land currently sits on First Street near Fillmore Street, in a place that falls between developed and underdeveloped; between public space and private space; and between distinct neighborhoods. To fill in the gaps, Downtown Phoenix Inc. in partnership with Logan Simpson Design and Balfour Beatty Construction, a soon-to-be pocket park will emerge this year in its place, acting as an open space where the community can gather for lunchtime and events or as a quiet corner to study and relax.
3. March Means Music (and more)
Music lovers and festival goers might as well block out the entire month of March as there are numerous events that you don’t want to miss. The month begins with Local First Arizona’s Bartending Competition at Crescent Ballroom, where the finest bartenders from across the Valley compete to concoct “Phoenix’s Best Cocktail of the Valley.” A week later, Artlink Phoenix’s 27th annual Art Detour will celebrate Phoenix arts and culture, from March 7-8, with special gallery and artist-studio openings and exhibits, hands-on activities, food trucks and more.
Kicking off March Means Music, Phoenix Chorale will perform “Desert Song” on Saturday, March 7 at Trinity Cathedral. Join them for a desert-inspired concert that celebrates the rich hues, history and heritage of the southwest. The following weekend, Viva PHX returns to Downtown Phoenix Saturday, March 14 bringing an eclectic, and to-be-announced, line-up of bands and musicians to stages scattered within walking distance in downtown. Just one week later, Phoenix Lights, a new music and arts festival at Civic Space Park, will light up the stage on Sunday, March 22. Later that month, the music festival and fundraiser, McDowell Mountain Music, takes over Margaret T. Hance Park for three days of performances, food trucks, vendors and more from Friday, March 27 to Sunday, March 29.
4. Downtown West Side Development Planning Process
It’s early in the planning process for a 7.5-acre publicly owned piece of land on Fillmore Street between Fourth and Sixth avenues. Neighborhood leaders and property owners have spent the past six months working with a planning and architectural firm to generate conceptual ideas for some potential uses of the parcel. And in two weeks, Tuesday, Jan. 27, the community is invited to an Open House, where the City of Phoenix will present the ideas and community members can provide feedback and voice their own. Though the parcel of land may not be complete by the end of the year, it will still be interesting to see what comes from the planning process this year.
5. Desoto Central Market opening
After months of anticipation, the Desoto Central Market is close to finishing with plans to open early this year. Final details haven’t been announced, but chef Stephen Jones, formerly of Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, is opening his own restaurant there called Yard Bird + The Larder.
6. Urban Wine Walk
The self-guided tour to some of Phoenix’s finest bars and restaurants returns to the light rail corridor on Saturday, May 16. From downtown to midtown, various wine samples will be available for purchase with complimentary, complementary bar bites to fuel your journey.
7. Finalization of the Roosevelt Streetscape
Roosevelt Street between Central Avenue and Seventh Street is in the process of getting a makeover by the City of Phoenix, making it a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly place. By December of this year, the expected completion date, you’ll see new shade trees, expanded sidewalks and new bike lanes.
8. Containers on Grand
A new housing project is coming to Grand Avenue, which we wrote about in December, that’s recycling shipping containers and transforming them into comfortable places to live. With a wait list already formed, the 20-unit apartment complex, Containers on Grand, will open this year on the corner of 12th and Grand avenues.
9. More Events and Activity Coming to the Roosevelt Row Arts District
Adding to their already popular annual events, the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC) is adding more vitality to the area this year with both new and reemerging events.
Along with community favorites like Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26, Pie Social on Saturday, Nov. 14, and the second annual New Year’s Eve Flannel Ball on Thursday, Dec. 31, save the date for the return of the Roosevelt Row Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17! And though the date has yet to be announced, the organization will bring more pie love to the area with the new Roosevelt Row Pie Pairing. Follow Roosevelt Row CDC on Facebook for updates on event details and dates.
10. Renovations to Begin on historic Barrister Place building
Last year, the city issued and awarded a request for proposals (RFP) to renovate without compromising the historic significance of the building, which is located on the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Jefferson Street. According to this AZCentral article, renovations of the building and construction of the two new buildings on the surrounding land will begin this year and upon completion will include new apartments and commercial space.
11. Urban Ale Trail
Last year’s inaugural Urban Ale Trail was a hit and you can keep trekking this year on Saturday, Sept. 19 with more beer specials and bar bites at various restaurants around the core.
12. Near completion of the Hilton Garden Inn in the historic Professional Building
Make sure to look up as you pass this beautiful art-deco building standing on the corner of Central Avenue and Monroe Street as it will be nearing completion by the end of the year. It’s being renovated into a Hilton Garden Inn and will include retail space along Central Ave.
13. Breaking ground on 1,000 housing units all over Downtown
With increasing activity in the housing sector in Downtown Phoenix; the year 2015 will see the breaking ground of 1,000 housing units around the core.
Each year, thousands of zombie-loving folk shuffle through downtown, celebrating the undead way of life. Join us this year on Saturday, Oct. 24 for the biggest, baddest and bloodiest gathering west of the Mississippi: Zombie Walk 7.
15. Completion of the University of Arizona Cancer Center
Construction is expected to finish on the five-story, 220,000-square-foot cancer center located on Seventh and Fillmore streets this year, further expanding the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Through a partnership with Dignity Health St. Joseph’s, the center will function as a cancer clinic providing outpatient services. It will, according to this Phoenix Business Journal article, generate 360 permanent jobs.