03/272014

Reinvent Phoenix Workshops in Midtown, Uptown and Solano are Underway! Don’t Miss your Opportunity to Participate!

By: Taz Loomans

Reinvent Phoenix is well underway and is in the process of getting community feedback on districts north of downtown, including Midtown, Uptown and the Solano district. As I mentioned a while back, Reinvent Phoenix is a planning process that is focused on creating a structure and vision for walkable transit-oriented development in Phoenix. This includes the production of actual urban codes, planning overlays and regulations that foster a more walkable and transit-oriented Phoenix. The planning process focuses on five “transit districts”, which include Gateway, Garfield/Eastlake, Midtown, Uptown and Solano.

What is Reinvent Phoenix Trying to Do?

The best way to understand what Reinvent Phoenix is trying to do is by breaking it down to its three phases. The first phase of Reinvent Phoenix, according to City of Phoenix Village Planner Katherine Coles, is to come up with transit district plans. These aren’t plans meant to collect dust in the office closet, but rather are action plans to incentivize private investment and development to support the Light Rail. This includes plans for everything from water and sewer lines, to parks and street improvements to healthy food infrastructure.

The second phase of Reinvent Phoenix is to actually codify more walkable and transit-oriented development in the five transit districts. This will take the form of the Walkable Urban Code, which will be written by the city’s consultant and partner on Reinvent Phoenix, Duany, Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ).

The third phase of Reinvent Phoenix is a request for proposals that will be put out to the development community to provide predevelopment reimbursement assistance  for transit-oriented and walkable projects along the light rail.$500,000 is available and It is anticipated that several projects will be selected to receive reimbursement funds. Predevelopment applications are welcome for all five districts.

And as an ongoing part of Reinvent Phoenix, to ensure progress and alignment with the original vision, Steering Committees have been formed for each district. The committees will meet monthly and will be charged with reviewing the plans, prioritizing the investments and steering the efforts to work toward implementation.

Some ideas for the Midtown, Uptown and Solano District Plans

“Midtown and Uptown have the greatest possibility for creating a linear heart for Downtown,” says world renown architect, thought leader, and Midtown resident Will Bruder. There is great potential for real, transformative change to occur in these areas because they are ripe for it. Already, over the past decade, the face of Midtown, Uptown and Solano have changed radically with the advent of the Light Rail, small businesses popping up, third places taking hold, and new housing going in. But these areas are poised for an even further evolution into a dense, sustainable, walkable and transit-oriented area of Phoenix. Here are some ideas that Bruder shared with me that he is advocating to become a part of the transit district plans for Midtown, Uptown and Solano:

– Define the area between 3rd Street, 3rd Avenue, Thomas Road and Indian School Road as an ideal walkable area with Park Central at its heart and anchored by the Rosensweig Complext on between Osborn Road and Indian School Road.

– Continue developing empty lots north of Indian School towards the canal with a four over one model, or 5-story mixed use density.

– Install a streetcar connector across Thomas Road to 3rd Street, up 3rd Street to Steel Indian School Park to Indian School Road to 3rd Avenue down to Park Centeral and the St. Joseph’s hospital complex. The streetcar could generate billions of dollars in new development in Midtown and Uptown and give people more reasons to live in the central city. A streetcar would just add to the options for making central Phoenix a 20 minute city, where people can walk, or take transit, which includes Light Rail, streetcar and buses.

– Dedicate bike lanes all the way from Roosevelt to Bethany Home Road on Central Avenue. Turn Central Avenue into a pedestrian, cycling and transit corridor.

How can YOU get involved?

Currently, the Reinvent Phoenix team is getting the last of the community input from the Midtown, Uptown and Solano districts to finalize the transit district plans and the Walkable Urban Code for those areas. This is where YOU come in. There are a series of community meetings coming up in the next month that you need to attend, speak up at, and make your voice heard in this planning process. Here are some of the more relevant meetings that are coming up:

March 28 Mid-Review Public Workshop 6 to 8pm

This is where most of the design concepts will be presented. This meeting provides a good opportunity to provide input on the final products.

April 1 Infill & Adaptive Reuse in Phoenix 5:30 to 7:30pm

This meeting will be a series of short presentations followed by information on available meetings prime for adaptive reuse and open discussion.

April 2 Mobility Meeting 10am to 12pm

This meeting is going to discuss possible changes to streets and transit. Again a technical meeting but a good opportunity to find out about proposed changes.

April 2 Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting 6 to 8pm

This meeting will be focused on presenting ideas and getting feedback from neighborhoods.

April 4 Final Review 6 to 8pm

This is the final opportunity to provide feedback on the design concepts.

For a complete list of upcoming community workshops that are open to the public for participation, click here.

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