Posts Tagged ‘venue projects’

Venue Projects Transforms the Defunct Beef Eaters Restaurant into a Lively Community Asset at The Newton

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The storied Beef Eaters Restaurant, originally built in 1961 and more recently recognized by its iconic sign, has re-opened its doors as The Newton, named after the original owner Jay Newton.

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Venue Projects, one of our favorite developers, has modernized this once sprawling and inward looking building better known for being a funky community gathering space rather than for its architecture, into a bright, airy and inviting third place in Central Phoenix. Key to this redevelopment is The Changing Hands Bookstore, a welcome addition to a part of town that lacks independent bookstores.

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The adaptive reuse project was headed by architect John Douglas Architects who redesigned the building and reconfigured the site. The Changing Hands interior was designed by Christoph Kaiser and The Southern Rail Restaurant, another anchor tenant at the Newton, was designed by Kim Harris of Studio K. The construction was carried out by Venue Projects.

The design team had its work cut out. The building, which lacked much architectural interest in the first place, was added onto haphazardly many times over the years. At the end of its 45-year run, the giant one-story building featured two connected dining rooms, a cocktail-dining lounge, four private party and banquet rooms serving from ten to three hundred, plus a wine cellar table for ten. It had two bars, four fireplaces, three shaded patios, and a large porte-cochère drive entrance. The major design strategy for The Beef Eaters was to take away and simplify rather than to embellish and add to.

Today, the complex makes much more architectural, experiential and way finding sense. Parking surrounds the building and the porte-cochère marks the entrance into Changing Hands Bookstore and Southern Rail Restaurant.

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Southwest Gardener, a third tenant with a spot in the back of the building, is scheduled to open in the fall of this year.

Whereas the original building had a dark, brooding and somewhat mysterious atmosphere, the redesign made some surgical moves to open the building up, let daylight in, and create bright and sunny spaces.

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Venue Projects and the design team were able to retain aspects of the original building and its story while recreating it into a place that makes much more sense today. They exposed the existing heavy wood beams and made them an integral part of the more modern design of the spaces.

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Also, small touches like integrating the original fireplaces, the ornate chandeliers and even some of the wingbacked chairs of the original Beef Eaters reminds Phoenicians of the city’s colorful past.

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The Newton is a huge triumph for Phoenix. It’s important not only because it has brought a popular independent bookstore to the city center, but because it proves that evolution and progress can happen without tearing down historic buildings.

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It is a successful case study of embracing and retaining the things that make Phoenix unique and also revitalizing them so they are relevant and well used today. Sensitive adaptive reuse like The Newton is the best way to preserve the historic buildings, because it ensures a building’s future by making good use of it.

Becoming home to The Changing Hands Bookstore, which has been a huge community asset in Tempe for years, has been a game changer for Central Phoenix. Whereas there is an abundance of cool and hip restaurants and coffee shops in Midtown, there aren’t many other cool, community-oriented local businesses in the area besides the Stinkweeds complex. Independent bookstores dot the streets of vibrant cities like San Francisco, New York, Paris and London. They are magical places where people of all walks of life gather, imagine, gain knowledge, and revel the literary arts. And each usually has its own personality, which contributes to the rich cultural fabric of a city. Changing Hands at The Newton has brought this magic and personality to central Phoenix and is a major step forward in making the city into an attractive place for creatives and intellectuals.

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Bravo to Venue Projects for revitalizing a difficult building into an inviting and bustling community gathering spot. And a special nod to the team for the following special efforts to create community…

  • Thanks for integrating the First Draft Bar into The Changing Hands Bookstore. This mixed-use strategy turns up the volume in the way people are welcomed to the space. You could combine buying a book with grabbing a drink, or you could just go there to hang out at the bar and enjoy the energy of the surrounding bookstore, or you could just go browse books while being energized by the lively discussions at the bar. The bar changes and adds to the character of the bookstore and makes it more appealing to a wider audience.

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  • Thanks for keeping the community multi-purpose room. This room is adjacent to the First Draft Bar and is used for readings and book signings and can be rented out for events, meetings and any other community gathering. When not in use for events, the space remains open and becomes a spill-over space for people wanting to read a book in a quiet spot or for people to catch up with a friend in a quieter setting.

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Lorenzo Perez, founding partner at Venue Projects, is rightfully proud of this project and says, “I really love that we were able to preserve the scale, look and feel of the former Beefeater building, and how we were able to integrate a unique, community based, architectural program into it. The bookstore gives me chills when I walk in and see how well it inserts itself into the former bar, dining room and kitchen of the old Beefeater. I absolutely love how Southern Rail engages with Camelback and the Light Rail line. We are thrilled with the character of the entire space.”

Photo Credit: All photos by the author.

Oasis Twenty Offers Stylish Garden Courtyard Living in One of the Most Happening Areas of Phoenix

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Venue Projects, the developer of the building that houses Windsor/Churn is delving into re-imagining housing in Phoenix and we’re very excited to see this. They make a huge positive impact in every neighborhood they intervene in and their newest completed project, Oasis Twenty, is no exception. The innovative small-scale development company is also behind The Newton, an adaptive reuse of the old Beefeaters building, and the Orchard on 12th Street.

We are so excited that Venue Projects chose to collaborate with Firefly to handle the ongoing operations of Oasis Twenty. “We love the hospitality and the personal experience that Firefly delivers,” says Lorenzo Perez, a founding partner at Venue Projects. We’re thrilled to be able to help Venue Projects create extraordinary places where people can thrive and live in community in a sustainable environment.

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Oasis Twenty is a midcentury modern 19-unit garden courtyard apartment building in one of the hottest neighborhoods in Phoenix – just south of the Town & Country shopping complex on 20th Street. Venue Projects has revitalized this 1960s apartment complex back to its original midcentury glory, while adding modern day amenities and amping up its outdoor communal spaces. The apartments are aimed at “people who’re tired of the same ol’ same ol'”, says Perez, “and want to have a stylish, community oriented and sustainable lifestyle.”

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A Stylish Lifestyle

Oasis Twenty is reminiscent of the Palm Springs brand of desert midcentury modern architecture. Venue Projects wanted to keep this look and feel without overwhelming the building with bold colors and big changes. So they added a some understated accent colors, made few other aesthetic changes and made the building a quite backdrop to a gorgeous landscape palette and the great people who are going to live there.

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Part of the stylish lifestyle of Oasis Twenty is that you can walk or bike to some of the most stylish venues in town, including the Biltmore, which is only a 3 minute bike ride or a 13 minute walk away. You can also walk to Town & Country shopping plaza, which now is home to a new Whole Foods along with Trader Joe’s, in just a few minutes. Plus the Camelback Colonnade shopping center is only a 4 minute walk away. Hip restaurants like The Parlor, Le Grande Orange, Pane Bianco, Federal Pizza, Postino’s and Venue Projects’ own Windsor are all less than a 20 minute bike ride away. Not to mention you’re within a short bike ride to several very cool coffee shops including Carmel’s Coffee on Camelback, Hava Java, and Lux Coffee Bar.

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To encourage the biking lifestyle, which is incredibly stylish now, Venue Projects converted the old laundry room in the complex into a bike storage locker.

A Community Oriented Lifestyle

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“One of the best things about living in a small apartment complex”, says Perez, “is that it creates a microcommunity within the community.” Though Venue wanted to keep the look of the building as authentic to the original as they could, they did make some bold moves towards encouraging community in the complex. The apartments all face a communal courtyard which includes the pool area. The courtyard has a variety of seating for people to get together for parties or just to chat after work. Venue Projects revived the old shuffle board in the courtyard to encourage residents to come out and have a good time and mingle. There was an old loading area in the complex which was all asphalt that the team made into a landscaped seating area, as a supplement gathering space to the main courtyard.

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But if residents aren’t in the mood to be mingling, but still want to enjoy the outdoors, every unit is either equipped with a dedicated back patio or balcony where they can spend some time in solitude. Though the units are modest in size at the one-bedroom being around 660 square feet and two-bedrooms around 840 square feet, the dedicated patio in combination with the communal outdoor space allows residents to live large. The apartment complex is a haven for indoor/outdoor living, allowing for private outdoor experiences as well as providing for opportunities to interact with neighbors.

A Sustainable Lifestyle

Oasis Twenty encourages a sustainable lifestyle first and foremost due to its excellent location. Its proximity to amenities, entertainment, shopping and restaurant venues would allow residents to go either car-free or car-light if they want and rely more on walking, bicycling and transit. Plus its bicycle storage makes it easy and convenient for people to make bicycling part of their lifestyle at Oasis Twenty.

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The complex itself was renovated with sustainability in mind. Venue Projects planted 60 additional trees on the site, providing shade, reducing urban heat island and improving air quality on the site. They are also planning on adding a grove of orange trees along the alley, consulting with urban farming guru Greg Peterson, to provide some edible produce. They replaced the old air-conditioning units with newer, more energy-efficient ones to reduce the impact on the environment and save the residents money.

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Gas stoves in the units not only alleviate the electrical load and save the residents money, and they are also a nice amenity not found in most apartment buildings. All the appliances are Energy Star rated and the plumbing fixtures are low-flow. Furthermore, Venue Projects replaced a great deal of the asphalt on site with landscaping, again reducing the heat island effect and improving air quality.

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Oasis Twenty is a radical new way of living that appeals to everyone from young people in their 20s to people in their 60s and 70s. Reducing the need to drive everywhere, the excellent location and bicycle parking onsite make for a sustainable and healthful lifestyle that encourages biking and walking. Plus, for people living alone or as a couple, the communal spaces in the complex are great for meeting people, making friends, and building community. The mid-century modern aesthetic gives Oasis Twenty the timeless style and fashion of Palm Springs, and says something about the hipness of its residents. Since the complex just got completed, there are still units available. Pre-leasing begins on December 2. For more information on how you could rent a unit, contact Chris Wass at or 480.682.7426.

Photo Credit: Photos by Jill Richards for Firefly Living. All Rights Reserved.