Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Developers Envisage 8-story Tempe Project

Developers Envisage 8-story Tempe Project
By Katie Nelson The Arizona Republic

A massive remodeling of one of downtown Tempe's largest developments could dramatically change one of Mill Avenue's most significant blocks.

What is known as the Centerpoint commercial project was one of the first redevelopment projects more than 15 years ago. It takes up several city blocks over 21.5 acres.

Now, there is a plan to change a portion of that, the block that sits on the western side of Mill Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, into a mixed-use building called On Mill that reaches eight stories.

What's there today is one level high. It has had many vacancies despite housing an area favorite, Coffee Plantation. Other tenants include Fat Tuesday, Uno Chicago Grill, Chester 's Harley-Davidson on Mill, Bath & Body Works and a smattering of other stores.

New plans would mean razing those buildings to make room for a new mix of retail and the first condominiums directly on Mill Avenue .

There are three condo projects in the downtown area, with plans on the books for at least five more. But city leaders say this new concept fills a niche no others have so far.

"I think what you see is a different location in the market, a different lifestyle," said Neil Calfee, the city's deputy community development manager. "Compared to being 22 floors up in a condo to being on Mill Avenue will be a completely different living experience than living in something that's more of a planned, gated community."

The project is in the earliest stages. Site sketches were submitted to the city recently and are undergoing initial review by city departments.

Much could change in the coming months, but what Scottsdale developer DMB Associates Inc. and Phoenix architecture firm DFD CornoyerHedrick submitted to the city shows what they are aiming for. There would be 149 housing units, according to the plans. They would range from 850 to 2,025 square feet.

The lower level of the building would be dedicated to retail, while the remaining seven floors would be housing. An amenity deck would be at the top with a pool, spa and fitness center.

"It would be worth noting that this was one of DMB's first commercial projects, so we've been a part of Mill Ave. for many years," said Shanna Wolfe, a company spokeswoman. "We expect our legacy and stewardship with the community of Tempe to continue as we move forward through the planning and redevelopment process."

Both firms declined to comment as to the future of the current tenants or plans for the rest of the Centerpoint retail and commercial property, saying it was still too early in the planning process.

Search for homes in Tempe, AZ

SouthBridge Rising Downtown Scottsdale

By Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic

It has been overshadowed by the grander scale of the 13-story Scottsdale Waterfront but developer Fred Unger's SouthBridge project is poised to make its own dramatic statement in downtown Scottsdale.

SouthBridge's $41 million first phase is rising up to four stories above the south bank of the Arizona Canal, southwest of Scottsdale and Camelback roads.

The project is expected to open by March, with 66 residential units planned over the next two years.

Taking its name from a new span over the canal, SouthBridge will include a mix of seven restaurants and shops with homegrown roots rather than national brands.

Scottsdale restaurateur Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao will operate four restaurants at SouthBridge .

Kapsperski's partner Nobu Fukuda will move his See Saw restaurant into SouthBridge and will unveil another one called Shell Shock.

Jennifer Croll, a Scottsdale fashion retailer, will operate a large store with other retailers sharing the space.

Scottsdale renaissance taking place with SouthBridge project

Developer Fred Unger of Scottsdale-based Spring Creek Development said that the four-story SouthBridge project will be a transition from the 13-story Scottsdale Waterfront, with its condos, stores and restaurants, to the lower profile shops and nationally recognized art galleries along Fifth Avenue and Marshall Way .

A new canal bridge and a plaza with a cascading water feature will link the project that flanks the Arizona Canal , southwest of Camelback and Scottsdale roads.

"We want it to be the heart and soul of downtown Scottsdale ," said Unger, adding that he is hoping SouthBridge will be recognized as one of the nation's best public places.

SouthBridge, the Scottsdale Waterfront and the Arizona Canal are at the center of Scottsdale 's redevelopment binge that has seen $2 billion in private investment downtown over the past three years, according to city officials.

Scottsdale 's early builders turned their backs on the irrigation canal, a barrier that cuts diagonally across the city. They treated the waterway like an alley. Civic leaders for decades hoped to turn the canal into an asset with landscaped pathways, water features and bridges.

Unger and others failed in the 1990s to revive the canal and downtown, but the area renaissance is now in full swing.

Scottsdale Waterfront's retail and office component is nearly complete. Plus, thousands of condominium owners will soon begin moving into the Waterfront towers and a half dozen other high-end downtown condo projects.

Spring Creek Development also plans to build 66 residential units at SouthBridge over the next two years, depending on market conditions, Unger said.

Completion of the 3-acre SouthBridge development next spring and the influx of residents will bring a noticeable change to downtown, said John Little, Scottsdale 's downtown administrator.

"The social dynamics begin to change in a fundamental way," Little said. "That really begins to transform downtown into another neighborhood."

It also will bring deep-pocketed residents to the canal banks and SouthBridge , which intends to give them something unique.

Unger, who renovated the nearby Royal Palms Resort and Hermosa Inn, explained that SouthBridge will rely on individually owned restaurants and shops rather than leasing to national chains and retailers.

"I still believe in independence," he said. "I'm not a chain person."

Home-grown qualities

Scottsdale restaurateur Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao will operate four restaurants at SouthBridge , including the Mexican Standoff and an Italian eatery called Digestif.

Kasperski's partner Nobu Fukuda will move his See Saw restaurant into SouthBridge and will unveil another one called Shell Shock, with seafood and Japanese finger food.

A European-style cafe, the fine-dining Estate House and a chic restaurant lounge called Canal also are in the mix.

SouthBridge 's 30,000 square feet of retail will include home furnishings and fashion. It will be anchored by Jennifer Croll, a Scottsdale-based fashion retailer that will share space with other boutique retailers.

Chains in nearby mall

Shoppers looking for chain retailers can take the bridge over to Scottsdale Waterfront or continue north to Scottsdale Fashion Square .

The home-grown aspect of SouthBridge adds to the project's risk - banks were wary, Unger said - but could pay dividends for the 400,000-square-foot project.

"I think it's extremely far-sighted," said Little, the city administrator. Like historic downtown Phoenix, "Scottsdale's downtown is trying to create a sense of place, something unique and original and special. I think the exclusion of chain stores south of the canal helps reinforce that in a strong way.

"It really is a departure from Anywhere, USA ."

SouthBridge also includes two office condos and two levels of free public parking.

Scottsdale contributed $5 million for the underground parking garage and $11 million for the bridge and canal-bank improvements, Little said.

Search for a Scottsdale Historic Home or a Luxury Scottsdale or Paradise Valley home.

Downtown Phoenix yields a rare archaeological find

By: Angela Cara Pancrazio ~ The Arizona Republic
October 15th, 2006

Streams of sweat rolled down Mark Hackbarth's face.

The archaeologist and his crew dug with shovels and hand trowels. Nearby, bulldozers rumbled under the hot summer sun on another corner of the downtown construction site for the new Phoenix Convention Center.

Because of tight construction schedules, Hackbarth had 30 days to excavate the remains of a prehistoric Hohokam village that had been preserved under the old Phoenix Civic Plaza.

When Hackbarth was called to the site at the end of July, he expected to find Hohokam ruins. But even after 20 years of archaeological work in the Valley, he never imagined the immensity of what he found.

Hackbarth uncovered three of the earliest known pithouses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, houses that were 3,000 years old. And as he dug, he kept finding more traces of the ancient civilization.

Today, thousands of artifacts from the dig rest in a Tempe laboratory as Hackbarth analyzes one of the Valley's greatest archaeological finds.

With downtown Phoenix engrossed in its biggest burst of construction since World War II, the discovery in its heart is a reminder of how far back the area's history goes.

The pioneers who first settled in Phoenix knew they were building on the ruins of a previous civilization. They named the city Phoenix to recognize the new rising from the old. But no one back in the 19th century would know how old the ruins they found in the dirt really were.

When the Phoenix Civic Plaza was built in the early 1970s, it sat on a cement slab, not a basement.

That left the ruins covered until this summer.

Surrounded by a culture fortified with glass, steel and concrete, the archaeologist circled the remnants of houses where people began living 1,000 years before the birth of Christ.

By the time Hackbarth and his crew from the Tempe-based archaeological firm Logan Simpson Design were finished in early September, they had discovered nearly 40 Hohokam pithouses. They had also filled 3,500 little brown sacks with artifacts and dirt to be studied for more clues about the people who first found a way to live in the desert.

An ancient people

The word Hohokam comes from the Akimel O'odham term for "those who have gone."

Their irrigation techniques and canal systems enabled them to farm, build a series of pueblos and thrive from the time of Christ until they vanished around 1450.

Four tribes today - the Salt River Pima-Maricopa, the Ak-Chin, the Gila River and the Tohono O'odham - trace their ancestry back to the Hohokam.

Remnants of the Hohokam are buried across the Valley, beneath the runways at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium and much of downtown.

Early in the 20th century, archaeologists mapped out Hohokam villages dotting the Salt River Valley. The area of old downtown Phoenix - between Central Avenue and 10th Street, Fillmore and Harrison Streets - rests on a village named Pueblo Patricio.

Last year during the planning stages for the construction on the northern part of the Convention Center, Phoenix's archaeologist, Todd Bostwick, pulled out old blueprints for the Civic Plaza site and noticed there was no basement, which meant there had been little excavation.

In the early 1990's, Bostwick and Hackbarth had excavated remnants of a Hohokam village next door to the old Civic Plaza in what is now Heritage Square at Seventh Street and Washington. Looking at the blueprints, Bostwick realized there was a good chance more pithouses might be found on the new site.

Pieces of the puzzle

Through the muggy heat of the monsoon season, Hackbarth and his crew methodically unearthed the site, often a fraction of an inch at a time.

Bulldozers had removed about 5 feet of dirt, and from there the tools were shovels and common garden trowels. They collected dirt in dustpans and sifted it through screens.

"Even these little pieces of pottery can be informative," said Bostwick as he nimbly tried to grasp a broken piece of pottery between his finger and thumb.

"We can look at what's inside the pottery and we can source the materials used to make the pottery and determine which village this pottery was made at; it might not have been made at this village."

Every fragment recovered by the team is bagged and marked with its pithouse location. After each piece is analyzed, the archaeologists will have an idea of how long people stayed at this location, how many lived here and what kind of crops they grew and traded.

Near the end of the monthlong dig, Hackbarth stood among rectangular and circular outlines of the pithouses.

"If you just look at this and say, 'Ah, this is a house,' that can only get you so far," Hackbarth said.

"But looking at what's on the floor, what's nearby, you understand more of how things were done in the past and you're not just seeing a nice artifact or seeing a wonderful house. You get to look more at their social structure, aspects of how they lived and died."

Death, disappearance

Human remains are part of a Hohokam village.

During the month of digging, the archaeologists found two burial sites. Out of respect and as part of an agreement with the tribes, all digging stopped immediately.

A medicine man from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community came and blessed the remains. Then they were removed and taken away for study to try to determine how they died. Remains and any pots or objects associated with the grave will later be returned to the tribe.

The Hohokam disappeared from the Valley in the 15th century. No one knows why.

Some archaeologists believe their farming could no longer sustain their growing population. Others think there might have been conflict among the villages. Or drought or floods could have diminished their canal system.

The ancient culture flourished in the Salt River Valley due to their canal system that diverted water from the Salt River. Over a span of more than 1,400 years, they created as many as 16 independent canal systems. Some of the canals, more than 1,000 miles of them, were 50 feet wide. The Hohokam moved tons of earth and carved out their canals with stone and wood tools.

Winds and rain covered the abandoned villages with dirt and preserved the ruins.

In 1929, Phoenix was the first American city to hire a full-time archaeologist, who helped preserve the Hohokam village of Pueblo Grande. Bostwick was hired as the city's fourth archaeologist in 1990.

Whenever a developer or the city wants to put up a new office building or high-rise, Bostwick studies whether anything of archaeological or historic significance will be disturbed. During the 1980s, the city adopted a historic preservation ordinance that included protection of its archaeological resources.

In recent years, cities and counties around the state have adopted similar ordinances. But it's still not enough, said John Madsen, associate curator of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum.

Around Arizona, looting and vandalism was so widespread at archaeological sites that in 1990 Arizona passed legislation more stringent than previous burial laws.

It is illegal to knowingly disturb any buried human remains or burial artifacts on public or private land, including backyards, without permission from the state.

Ravaging of sacred Indian burial grounds by pot hunters continues, said Madsen, especially in the far reaches of Arizona where it is often impossible to police and prevent the thievery.

"Everyone that's buried has a large number of vessels buried with them."

Madsen said the looters know where the burials are and go after them.

"They wreak havoc, the research potential is gone forever and they are disturbing human remains."

The continuum

After the dig, Hackbarth and archaeologists Mary Ellen Walsh and John Rapp began studying the soil and fragments at their Tempe lab.

One morning, Hackbarth ran his fingers over a large trough-shaped rock. There are tiny pockmarks created by grinding saguaro seeds and corn kernels into the basalt.

Walsh eyed a pottery shard with a microscope.

"This is like my dinner plate and someone used this pottery," she said.

Hackbarth lifted a heavy rock hollowed out at the center like a doughnut. He explained that the Hohokam used such rocks as counterweights on the end of their digging sticks, making it easier to puncture the soil.

Because these remnants are from a Phoenix site, the artifacts will be stored at a climate controlled and secured vault at the city's Pueblo Grande Museum. It will probably take three to five years to complete the archaeological survey for this dig.

Before the dig, Hackbarth and Bostwick thought the Hohokam people lived at this downtown site only seasonally. But the number and size of the pithouses suggest that they lived here more permanently.

Their biggest discovery was uncovering remnants of the late Archaic people, those who came 1,000 years before the Hohokam.

Archaeologists believed these were hunters and gatherers, nomadic people who roamed on the edges of the Valley hunting and living along small streams.

Settling so close to the river means they needed water to irrigate their fields; they weren't just hunters and gatherers, they were farmers too.

Watching the Arizona Diamondbacks or Phoenix Suns or working in a downtown office cubicle, it's tough to imagine that the Hohokam settled at this site because it was higher than the vibrant river nearby where they fished the streams and harvested corn and cotton.

And that they hunted birds and mule deer in a thick mesquite forest that covered the landscape from where Chase Field is today to McDowell Road.

All of the pithouses are gone now, removed by construction crews digging the 40-foot-deep foundation for the new convention center.

But as Phoenix rises once again on the village of Pueblo Patricio, the mystery of the ancient civilization is far from over.

Find a historic Phoenix home downtown or a Metro Phoenix home

Valley's First Light-Rail Car On Its Way ~ Phoenix, AZ

By: Sean Holstege ~ The Arizona Republic
October 20th, 2006

The Valley's first light-rail train car, No. 101, is steaming for the Panama Canal, bound for New Jersey, having completed a battery of successful tests in Osaka, Japan.

"This is a wonderful machine," said Metro's operations chief, Joe Marie, who checked out the first train on a tour last month of the Kinkisharyo International factory. He described the inspection as one of the best he's participated in during a lengthy transit career.

"We are satisfied as a team we got a good product," he said.

Train car 101 departed the port of Kobe, Japan on Sept. 30. It's expected to arrive in Baltimore on Nov. 2, and from there be trucked to Newark for further tests beginning mid-November.

Key among them is checking whether the train accelerates and brakes smoothly. Then it will be sent to Arizona for final assembly and testing in Phoenix streets.

The other train that's been completed, car 102, has passed a two-month test inside a climate chamber, where temperatures were pushed to 127 degrees Fahrenheit. That train is expected to arrive in Phoenix in late January or early February, Marie said.

Metro is buying 50 rail cars for $159 million.

On Wednesday, Metro's governing board authorized Marie to enter into a five-year, $27 million contract with Pittsburgh-based Kinkisharyo to maintain the trains. The firm beat out three competitors on the basis of qualifications, Marie said, and its price was about $800,000 under the official estimate.

The first light rail train is scheduled to begin service in December 2008.

Find a home near the new light rail.

Orpheum Lofts - Phoenix, AZ

When it comes to blending Phoenix's past with its future, look no further than Orpheum Lofts.

The 1931 Phoenix Title and Trust Building is being reborn as the premier destination for downtown living. Located at the corner of West Adams Street and First Avenue, the 11-story concrete and brick masonry structure is Art Deco at its finest. Features of the lobby include decorative metal detailing crafted during the Depression, etched glass windows, a staircase of opulent marble and terrazzo, and an ornate lobby directory reminiscent of the traditions of the period. Additionally features include an exclusive state-of-the-art fitness center, a heated swimming pool and spa, full service business center, valet parking and a 24-hour doorman.

Address: 114 West Adams Street

The art of loft living is rising in downtown Phoenix. Orpheum Lofts, 114 West Adams Street, offers residents timeless elegance, the convenience of downtown living and an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the urban lifestyle in a charming building of Phoenix historical significance.

But the opportunity is limited. Only 90 upscale urban lofts will be available in this existing historical landmark formerly known as the Phoenix Title and Trust Building. Located at the northwest corner of Adams Street and First Avenue, the building is a decades-old icon dating back to 1931 and is one of very few remaining Art Deco high-rises in Phoenix.

The spacious lofts encompass 90,000 square feet of the building's available 137,734 square feet. At Orpheum Lofts, residents can choose from floorplans ranging from 700 to approximately 1,800 square feet, plus a magnificent penthouse. They also can design their own floorplan by combining two or more lofts. The 90 Art Deco-style lofts are now ready for occupancy. Loft homes are available for purchase with pricing from the low 300's.

Located in the "Heart of Historic Downtown Phoenix," also known as Copper Square, the community is the first to offer the ease of walking to nearby dining, entertainment, sporting events, cultural attractions and shopping. Residents will welcome the convenience of retail businesses located on Orpheum Lofts' first floor and in the immediate downtown.

The authentic restoration of the Art Deco designs throughout the building will showcase the style and architecture of the era. Orpheum Lofts will enchant residents, businesses and visitors with its sumptuous lobby adorned with decorative metal details crafted during the Depression, windows of etched glass and a staircase of opulent marble and terrazzo.

The amazing 11-story brick building will be retrofitted to meet future-paced technological requirements, while preserving the authentic structural magnificence of Art Deco. Every effort will be made to preserve the original exposed brick, decorative terra cotta and remarkable detail in metal, marble and terrazzo in the interior, and to protect the original exterior brick, stone, granite, terra cotta and original frame windows incorporated into the architecture.

Search for an Orpheum Loft
Contact a Phoenix Realtor Historic Specialist

Friday, October 20, 2006

Housing Start Gain May Signal Slide Is Over

Housing Start Gain May Signal Slide Is Over
Latest reading on new home market shows surprise increase in housing starts, although permits fall more than forecasts.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer ~ October 18 2006

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Home building may be ready to shake off its 2006 slump, as housing starts posted the biggest jump since January, according to a government report Wednesday.

The report also showed that building permits, seen as a sign of builder confidence, fell more than expected.

But the housing starts number was seen by some as perhaps a signal that home building has hit bottom and is ready for a recovery. At the very least, the market appeared more resilient than many experts had assumed.

"The worst may be over," said Rich Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research. "No, it's not blistering. But we're not in the housing boom anymore. When you put it in this historical perspective, you can't call this anything other than strong."

The number of new projects that home builders started rose to an annual pace of 1.77 million in September, according to the Census Bureau, from the 1.67 million pace in August. The 6 percent increase in September contrasts with a decline in starts in six of the previous seven months.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast starts would again slow in September to a 1.65 million rate.

While the 1.77 million rate is well below all the monthly readings from the second half of 2003 through the first half of this year, it's still a solid number. Only one month in the 10-year period from 1992 through 2001 had more starts.

Still, the pace of building permits fell, coming in at a rate of 1.62 million, down from 1.73 million in August. Economists were looking for this sign of builder confidence in the market to barely edge lower.

The disconnect between the two numbers surprised David Seiders, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), who said builders seemed to be working through a backlog of home permits they held for properties where they had not started construction.

Seiders said that a pick-up in building is not necessarily a positive for the market, which has seen the inventory of completed but unsold homes increase to record levels, pushing down prices and forcing builders to offer incentives to sell homes.

"If both permits and starts were up I'd be scared because I think there are still inventory issues that we need to work through," he said. "I hope the bounce in starts is a temporary phenomenon. I think it's inevitable that starts will be down in October."

Most of the nation's leading home builders, including Lennar (Charts), Toll Brothers (Charts), Centex (Charts), Pulte Homes (Charts), D.R. Horton (Charts), KB Home (Charts)and Hovnanian Enterprises (Charts), have seen sales and profits fall, with many citing a glut of homes on the markets as reasons to scale back their own sales targets going forward.

But survey of builders' confidence by the NAHB released Tuesday showed its first modest uptick in a year in October, even though builders still had an overwhelmingly negative view of the market.

Shop For A Historic Phoenix Home or a Phoenix Metro Home

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Phoenix CityScape Project Approved

Phoenix CityScape Project Approved

by Beth Duckett
The Arizona Republic - Oct. 5, 2006

Phoenix City Council members on Wednesday approved a blockbuster deal that clears the way for the single largest private investment project ever in the downtown area.

The 2.5 million-square-foot mixed-use venture, known as CityScape, is estimated to cost as much as $900 million, and could open in early 2009.

"Today is a really huge day for our downtown's development," Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten said shortly before the council's vote. "(This project) complements everything we've done so far."

Phoenix officials believe CityScape is the last remaining piece in their ongoing effort to rebuild the city's core. It will bring more residents, housing and office space to the area, plus a much-anticipated AJ's Fine Foods, the first downtown grocery store in nearly 25 years.

The project had initially raised the ire of many community groups and activists after they learned that plans called for it to be built, in part, on downtown's only real open space, Patriots Square Park.

But under the agreement approved Wednesday, the project's developers and the city will have to work with the public to redesign the park. Phoenix will also retain ownership of the open space.

That news came as a relief to many residents and groups, who are asking that the developers abide by design recommendations recently set forth by the city's Parks and Recreation Board.

That panel has stated that the park contain at least 2 contiguous acres of space, among other things.

Attracting people

"The park redevelopment process must begin with a clean piece of paper and not a series of artists' concepts rendered without citizens' input," said Steve Weiss, spokesman for the Downtown Voices Coalition, a community group.

Mike Ebert, managing partner for RED Development, which is building the project, said he is looking forward to working with the parks board.

"This will be a place that attracts people," Ebert said. "Not just for staged events, but for the unstaged events that happen in every day life."

Plans call for CityScape to include 250,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, about 1,260 residential units, a boutique hotel, two office towers, and 3,000 parking spaces.

Phoenix will invest financially in the project, purchasing an underground parking structure and paying for repairs on an existing parking garage at a cost of $96.5 million. In addition, the city will waive the property taxes on the development's key components for eight years, a financial incentive that is worth at least $26 million, according to official estimates.

But the project's developers will have to meet a host of requirements to receive the city money, including adhering to the parks board design guidelines for Patriots Square Park and providing a $13 million letter of credit to cover any revenue shortfalls during the first few years the project is open.

Ebert said he is looking forward to getting started.

"It's been a challenge to get here today, but you can view challenges as roadblocks, or they can be viewed as an opportunity to showcase your creativity," he said.

Wednesday's vote came after nearly 90 minutes of discussion, most of it in favor of the project. But not everyone was happy with what he or she saw.

'Downtown for everyone'

C.R. Vavrek, who lives in downtown Phoenix, said he was concerned because many area residents can't afford to shop at high-end retailers.

"I know a lot of people who live downtown, but we're low income," he said. "I'm not sure we can afford to shop at AJ's. {ellipsis} I was wondering if there is going to be any low-income sales or medium-income sales."

Mayor Phil Gordon assured Vavrek and others that the development would accommodate all residents, not just the wealthy or business elite.

"This is a downtown for everyone, and we're going to make it work for everyone," he said.

Now is an incredible time to buy in the downtown Phoenix area. Find a loft or a condo in a high-rise. Historic Phoenix homes are also in high demand.

Staging Your Phoenix Metro Home to Sell

Professional Home Stagers Make Sure First Impressions Count

Lisa Hutchurson - Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

When Bill and Janet Welch bought their home in Perinton, N.Y., 20 years ago, everything was state of the art.

When they wanted to sell it, their real estate agent told them the home looked a little dated. The Welchs turned to professional home stager Debbie Coons, who worked to improve the look of their home inexpensively so they could sell it as fast - and at the best price - possible.

"Staging gives your house the competitive edge," says Coons. "All other things being equal - price, amenities and location - the one that looks the best will sell the fastest."

That's especially important now, says ReMax broker associate Dorene Champion. "I would say there are a greater number of houses on the market today than in the past few years, and the marketplace competition is keen," says Champion.

One of these tricks is to "edit" all your stuff because uncluttered rooms look more spacious and calming. Stagers remove items from a variety of places, such as walls, bookcases, closets and cabinets. Simply rearranging your furniture can add interest to the space.

"Sometimes it's hard to edit your own belongings," says Linda Litchfield, owner of Stage Right home staging service in Pittsford, N.Y. "It just takes another eye to say, You don't need this here' or 'Pack this up now and you don't have to do it later.' "

Stagers know what's current. That's why Coons replaced much of the Welches' carpeting with ceramic tile, used silky drapery panels and sheers as window treatments and replaced brass doorknobs and cabinet handles with ones in brushed nickel.

Home stagers also use props, either to provide a designer touch or to broaden the home's appeal. "It's just the two of them right now," Coons says of the Welches' home, "so I'm not sure it could be imagined as a family house." So she placed children's shoes in the back hall, left a note to the baby sitter on the kitchen counter and stuck Snoopy slippers in a bedroom.

Is home staging worth it? According to a 2004-2005 survey conducted by StagedHomes.com, staged homes sell for an average 6.9 percent more and in half the time. Coons says that on average, her clients sell within three weeks; Litchfield says hers sell within one to three. But the benefits come at a price.

Coons' charges begin at $29 an hour for packing and cleaning tasks, and her consultation fees begin at $250. Litchfield, who always does the work herself, generally charges about $60 an hour for a consultation and another $60 an hour after that.

Home stagers keep expenses down by using props or items the homeowner already has. Because of this, Litchfield says, the cost of her updates rarely exceeds a few hundred dollars. Coons, however, says homeowners should expect to budget 1 percent to 3 percent of the value of their house on staging.

Don't worry if you don't have a big budget, says Litchfield, who has clients with homes priced from $100,000 to $700,000. "There's no substitute for cleaning and clearing clutter. Add in newer paint colors and better furniture arrangements, and you've got yourself a really spectacular-looking home."

If your thinking about selling your home and need some help, call Laura Boyajian, aka, Laura B. today at 602.400.0008. You may also visit her historic Phoenix website.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

UA medical school opening draws crowd in downtown Phoenix

UA medical school opening draws crowd in downtown Phoenix

The Business Journal of Phoenix
by Angela Gonzales
The Business Journal

More than 800 people attended an invitation-only event Tuesday at noon to celebrate a joint effort between two rival state universities.

In collaboration with Arizona State University, the University of Arizona College of Medicine is opening its new facility in downtown Phoenix. Governmental dignitaries, including Gov. Janet Napolitano and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, were on hand for the historic partnership.

Bob Bulla, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities, said the Phoenix medical school campus is an important step for the state's economy.

"To me, the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, in collaboration with Arizona State University, has the potential to be a catalyst for the state's most successful enterprise in years," Bulla said. "That's for two reasons. One, the critical need for physicians and other medical professionals in our state, and two, the impact we can expect on our state from increased medical research and the biosciences."

Pointing to a health care crisis in the next decade caused by work force shortages, Bulla said, "We must do everything possible to change what will be a crisis in health care in the next decade unless we step up our production of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health-related professions. This could be the driver for our economy in decades to come."

Housed in the renovated historic Phoenix Union High School building, built for $150,000 in bond money in 1910, the new medical school will graduate as many as 150 new physicians each year when fully developed. UA's Tucson campus graduates 110 medical students each year.

Judy Bernas, associate vice president of UA, said the school will start with a small class of 24 next year and grow to 150 students.

"When you combine that with the class in Tucson, that's 260 new graduates every year," she said. "That is really is significant."

Another benefit of having a medical school in the Valley is that it helps attract doctors who want to live and work here, she said, adding that Tucson has more doctors per capita than the Phoenix metro area.

"The presence of the medical school makes a huge difference," she said. "It's a key factor in the number of physicians you have per capita."

Doctors want to be near a medical school for its resources and faculty appointments, she said.

"Phoenix is already a great place," Bernas said. "Having a medical school here will be a key factor in getting them to want to live here."

Search for historic Phoenix homes near ASU downtown Phoenix campus.

UA College of Medicine Opens in Downtown Phoenix Tuesday

UA College of Medicine Opens in Downtown Phoenix Tuesday

By University Communications
October 05, 2006

Following a historic statewide collaborative effort, The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, in collaboration with Arizona State University, will open its new facility at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus on Tuesday.

The historic Phoenix Union High School buildings (circa 1910) underwent an "adaptive reuse" renovation that transformed the vacant campus into a state-of-the-art medical education facility. The invitation-only event will feature brief remarks by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, among several other dignitaries.

Among the nation’s fastest-growing states, Arizona desperately needs more physicians, especially in rural communities. Arizona is currently ranked 45th in the nation for physicians per capita and Phoenix is the largest city in the country without an allopathic medical school. Expansion of the college in downtown Phoenix, in collaboration with ASU, represents a major inroad in addressing this health care crisis. When fully developed, the new medical school is expected to graduate as many as 150 new physicians each year; the Tucson campus graduates 110 medical students each year.

Since 1992, the college has operated a regional campus in Phoenix, allowing about 40 percent of third- and fourth-year medical students to complete their studies in Maricopa County. In August 2004, the Arizona Board of Regents approved an agreement to expand the operations of the college in Phoenix, in collaboration with ASU, to a four-year program.

The city of Phoenix provided land to establish the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which, in addition to the UA College of Medicine, is the site of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the future site of the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative (under construction), and the ASU department of biomedical informatics, as well as planned expansion of the nationally ranked UA College of Pharmacy, among other programs and facilities.

The UA College of Medicine, which opened its doors in 1967, is ranked among the nation’s top 60 medical schools by U.S. News & World Report. Total research funding has grown from $345,000 in 1967 to $125 million in 2004. Although the College of Medicine in Tucson is small by national standards (a primary reason for the expansion), it is ranked third among U.S. medical schools with a faculty of 600 or less, and 55th overall in funding from the National Institutes of Health, a common measure of research performance.

An expanded College of Medicine will provide tremendous economic benefits for Arizona. A study by Tripp Umbach Healthcare Consulting Inc. indicates that statewide academic medical activities, driven by the College of Medicine as the state’s sole allopathic medical school, generates an estimated $2.5 billion in annual economic activity. The Phoenix Biomedical Campus could rank among Arizona’s leading economic engines by 2025, generating (by conservative estimates) as much as $2.1 billion annually and providing stable employment for up to 24,000 Arizonans, according to Tripp Umbach. The college also will benefit from the economic and scientific synergy due to its close proximity to internationally recognized TGen, ASU’s Downtown and Tempe campuses and ASU’s fast-emerging biomedical research program, as well as the many excellent Phoenix-area teaching hospitals and research institutes.

Search for Phoenix historical properties near ASU's downtown campus.