Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Group Pushes Hip Downtown Phoenix

Group Pushes Hip Downtown
By Ginger D. Richardson and Erica Sagon ~ The Arizona Republic

San Diego has the Gaslamp Quarter, Miami has South Beach and Denver has LoDo.

Now, a group of private developers wants to create a hip hangout spot in downtown Phoenix, one that rivals or even surpasses those found in some of the nation's greatest cities.

The proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District would cut a path across the southern end of downtown Phoenix, AZ, stretching from Central Avenue to Chase Field, and could be anchored by the state's first House of Blues music venue.

The blockbuster proposal is significant because it addresses downtown Phoenix's lack of full-time residents and nightlife, both of which are key to turning the area into a true destination spot. The new district, when complete, could boast comedy clubs, signature restaurants, live-music spots and art galleries, as well as office space, housing units and a hotel.

Dale Jensen, part owner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, is one of Jackson Street 's backers. He said he and his business partners decided to move forward with the idea after realizing that there was nothing to keep people downtown after a Suns or Diamondbacks game.

"The thought was, we have these two big boxes in downtown, the arena and the ballpark, but we really have nothing for people to do but go to that box and go home," he said.

Jackson Street marks the second time in recent months that the private sector has turned its attention to downtown Phoenix in a big way.

Late last year, Phoenix officials approved plans for CityScape, a megashopping, residential and retail project that will give the downtown area its first grocery store in 25 years.

CityScape, which will be just north of the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District, is expected to complement this newest plan by providing residents and urban workers with a variety of shopping and dining options downtown.

It is expected to feature more national retail chains, while Jackson Street will focus heavily on music and entertainment venues.

Much is still unknown about the Jackson Street proposal, including its cost - early estimates have been about $300 million - tenants and effect on the surrounding Warehouse District.

Downtown residents and artists say they like the concept of an entertainment zone but fear developers will sacrifice some of the neighborhood's unique older buildings in their quest to remake the city's core.

"If we lose the Warehouse District to tall high-rises, we lose the integrity of the area," said Steve Weiss, steering committee chairman for the Downtown Voices Coalition. "We don't want to be just another generic city of tall structures."

Filling a void

The idea of a downtown entertainment in the historic districts is not a new one.

Phoenix leaders identified the need back in 2004, when they adopted their strategic plan for downtown.

But this marks the first time anyone has moved forward on the concept.

In addition to Jensen, the principals behind the project are Bradley Yonover, Jensen's partner in the Arizona Grand Prix, an Indy-car-style street race that will be held in downtown Phoenix in November; Michael Hallmark, a businessman who designed some of downtown's most notable buildings, including the US Airways Center, the Herberger Theater Center and Chase Field; and David Wallach, a Chicago-based developer who is building downtown Phoenix's first high-rise condominium project, the Summit at Copper Square.

The project's developers say they believe that this is the ideal time to proceed with the plan, in part because the city has made such a huge investment in the downtown in recent years. Big-ticket projects include a new Arizona State University campus, a University of Arizona medical school, light rail, a $600 million-plus expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center and a new $350 million Sheraton hotel.

"It's just the perfect storm of events," Jensen said. "We want to make it so that no one ever comes downtown and says, 'I can't find something to do down there.' "

Unique venues

Early plans call for the Jackson Street district to include 300,000 square feet of office space, more than 1,000 housing units, a hotel, courtyards and paseos that are permanently closed to vehicular traffic, and at least 450,000 square feet of entertainment and retail space. That is nearly three times what is available at the Arizona Center , a downtown shopping mall at Third and Van Buren streets.

Developers have been tight-lipped about what tenants they are trying to lure, but people familiar with the project say principals are already in negotiations with the House of Blues.

It would be the chain's first club in the state.

"Obviously, House of Blues . . . are industry leaders in that genre," Hallmark said. "They're someone who we are talking to and are having ongoing conversations with."

House of Blues, based in Los Angeles , did not return calls for comment.

The deal is not definite, but if House of Blues was to locate in the proposed entertainment district, it would likely be one of the project's few nationally recognized tenants, Hallmark said.

Instead, the majority of the restaurants, bars and shops will be "homegrown and one-of-a-kind concepts," Hallmark said. "If you can find it somewhere else in the Valley, we probably don't want it in the district."

The area, for example, could include a comedy club and movie theater, Hallmark said. He added that he has shared his plans with Sundance Cinemas, a fledgling theater chain for independent films.

Next steps

The Jackson Street project has the potential to completely reshape what has been an underused part of downtown.

Developers, for example, would like to build new retail and residential spaces and literally attach, or "wrap," them around existing buildings, including the US Airways Center and a city-owned parking garage at Third and Jackson streets. The design plan accomplishes several things, including injecting energy into the district, narrowing streets and promoting a pedestrian-friendly environment, proponents say.

But the plan faces some tough political and logistical battles.

First, developers will need the city to OK the proposal. That will likely not happen before April or May because Phoenix first needs to seek bids from anyone interested in creating a downtown entertainment district.

The group behind the Jackson Street project, however, is the front-runner because it already controls most of the land in the area.

In addition, the project's backers will need to persuade downtown artists and historic-preservation groups to buy into the idea. Some already are concerned that the proposal will result in architecturally unique properties being razed.

"If they come in and tear down a bunch of buildings, then what's going to stop somebody else from coming in and doing the same thing?" asked Beatrice Moore, one of the driving voices behind Phoenix's arts community. "I think that would set a very bad example."

Hallmark said he and his partners would go out of their way to integrate historic and unique buildings into plans for the district.

"Our intent is to preserve all of the ones that have character and value," Hallmark said.

If the process goes smoothly, parts of the new entertainment district could be open by 2009.

Find a Realtor and search for homes in the downtown Phoenix, AZ area.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scottsdale, AZ History and Historical Homes Search

Scottsdale is located centrally in the state of Arizona. Smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, with mountains ringing the city and giant saguaro cactus guarding those mountains.

Scottsdale was named after the Rev. Winfield Scott, Civil War veteran. who was later a chaplain in the regular army. He first visited the area in 1881. Later he homesteaded, taking out a patent in 1891. Meanwhile he served at Fort Huachuca, leaving his brother George in charge of the homestead. Following his retirement, Scott promoted property near his home as a health and agricultural center. The name Scottsdale became official in 1896 with the establishment of the school district. It had seventy residents in 1897.

Scottsdale experienced continuous growth though golf, art and tourism, and also had a post war boom in the 40’s, and continues to be a favored place to visit and enjoy the plush offerings.

Scottsdale was first incorporated in 1951 and as such is a relatively new city! And boy has it come a long way baby. Scottsdale really came into its own when the U.S. Conference of Mayors named Scottsdale as one of the nation's "Most Livable Cities" in 1993. We have also been named "Number One Resort Community in America" and "A Fabulous Place to Retire". We've been called "The Most Western Town" and in 2002, The Robb Report sited Scottsdale as "America's Best Place to Live for golf". And we have a number of chefs listed on the "Ten Best New Chefs in America" listed by Food and Wine.

We know it's a great place to live, Scottsdale sparkles, everything is clean, manicured and landscaped...and you'll see no billboards, which totally sets it apart from any other city you might visit! Our building height is regulated, so that no matter where you are, you have at least a peak of a mountain. The Spanish and Western Architecture is very appealing and of course Frank Lloyd Wright has left his mark on our fair city.

The first known residents of Scottsdale were the Hohokam Indians (about 800 A.D.) who farmed the land and built over 200 miles of canals (many of which are still in use today) to carry water to their crops. Can you imagine how they built these canals 1000 years ago without modern tools or air conditioning. Very smart and very hardy! They disappeared without a trace and everyone is still wondering what happened to them. I sure hope that doesn't happen to us!

Winfield Scott, the founding father of Scottsdale arrived about 1888 and purchased 600 acres just outside Phoenix.The purchase was made through the Desert Land Act, which required the owner to irrigate the land. He proceeded to plant his land with citrus trees. (I don't know what made him think he could come to the desert and plant citrus), but obviously ignorance was bliss and he proceeded to build an irrigation system that did the job very well. (how far we've come, now that only desert landscaping is acceptable). The citrus thrived with the irrigation system he developed, but a raging flood in 1891 destroyed most of the citrus.

He then started campaigning to bring "settlers" to Orangetown. That name had been given to the area because (you guessed it) of the citrus trees. However, and no one knows exactly how this happened, Orangetown became Scottsdale sometime in the 1890’s and officially Scottsdale in 1897 when the U.S. Post Office came to town.
Winfield Scott was no wild western hombre, but a preacher, farmer, business man and developer (yes we had them even then). When he arrived there were approximately 3000 people in the Phoenix area. Seven hotels, eight restaurants and probably some bars. But he set out to attract more people to the "Valley of the Sun", and it worked. And it is still working.

Old Winfield would not recognize the place today. It continues to grow with an influx of new people, new ideas, and new developments. We boast everything from Arabian Horse Shows to Native American Casinos. Scottsdale was voted the "Most Livable City" in 1993.

Most of the original settlers came for their health, those 300 plus days of sunshine probably had a lot to do with it, as it still does. The sunshine is addictive and must be responsible for our 200,000 residents today!

Today as then people were looking for their quiet spot in the sun to live and work in a relaxed environment. The early pioneers would not believe Scottsdale of today. The little farming community has grown up into an upscale resort area, complete with the finest hotels, spas, restaurants and shopping galore. With 200,000 population and growing daily it would be hard for old Winfield Scott to find his way.

Since World War II, Scottsdale has been growing, from the fighter pilots that trained at Scottsdale Airfield and came back after the war with their wives and families. The McCormick’s came in 1947 and bought the land that comprises McCormick Ranch. 1956 brought Motorola to southern Scottsdale. Both of these contributed to the growth of Scottsdale. Certainly when McCormick Ranch opened its doors to corporate groups, it didn't take long for the word to spread.

I remember one of my first times here in Scottsdale about 1972, we stayed at the Royal Palms in a casita. It certainly wasn't the extravagant resort it is today, but wonderful just the same. I was so taken with the desert, that I knew I would return time and time again. The town was so quaint with the Sugar Bowl and their fantastic banana splits. The Cavalliere Blacksmith Shop, was downtown as it has been for almost 100 years. Back in 1909 they had boxing and wrestling matches there as well shoe horses. And the same family owns Reata Pass, the longest operating business in Scottsdale. The restaurant is filled with Cavalliere family ironwork, western antiques and old ranch tools...along with hundreds of flapping dollar bills signed by their former owners...a trend started long ago when cowboys used to put in reserve a little money at their favorite local watering hole before heading out on the trail. Reata Pass has seen a lot of people come and go and it's still going strong.

It's just not the sun and the weather that helped put Scottsdale on the map. Certainly the "old" Phoenix Resorts have helped. 1929 was a really big year for Phoenix. Everyone was discovering the desert environment and many people believed winter months in Arizona, the place to be! Arizona Highway magazine in its infancy lured a lot of people with its Wigwam Resort also opened in 1929, on quite a smaller scale than today, with just 13 rooms that could hold 24 guests. Originally a dude ranch it is now the largest of the Arizona resorts.

Royal Palms Resort designed by a wealthy New Yorker in the Spanish colonial style on 65 acres was used as a private home and finally opened as the Royal Palms Inn in 1948. Today it is one of the most coveted small luxury resorts in Phoenix.

San Carlos Hotel, was built around the same time, a state of the art facility, the first hotel in Phoenix with steam heat, elevators and air-cooling, costing a $1.00 a day more that the other three area hotels! Totally redone now of course!

With all these hotels and resorts dotting the desert could golf courses be far behind? The first nine-hole golf course was built at the Wigwam Resort in 1929. Today there over 120 Phoenix golf courses!

Golf, Resorts and these glimpses of the "old west" coupled with the way the town has evolved keeps 'em coming from all over the world. Scottsdale also attracts artists and crafters, just look at our over 100 galleries on main street and you can see that's true. Frank Lloyd Wright came to town, and started his school for architects at Taliesin West and the arts have flourished ever since.

Search For Scottsdale Historic Homes

Monday, February 19, 2007

Downtown Phoenix, AZ Living

Downtown Phoenix Living
What to do in Downtown Phoenix, a Peek Into its Future, and its Historical Path

Downtown Phoenix, AZ is just exploding with growth in all areas.

Culture, culture, culture. That's what Phoenix, AZ residents have been craving.

Here, you'll learn everything about the massive growth Phoenix, AZ is experiencing and the future it holds, and of course, its past. You'll be able to examine some incredible data on Phoenix's History which will give you an idea of how, why & where the growth in downtown Phoenix is heading.

You'll also be linked to TONS of fun & cool stuff happening downtown, midtown and all around town RIGHT NOW! And, you'll be able to see what's on its way.

Not only in Real Estate, but in the culture that's finally coming to Phoenix, in food, in entertainment, in politics, in education, in business and much, much more, Phoenix is well on its way to becoming the next major megatropolis with urbanization happening everywhere.

Also, check out a couple of my resource pages that will take you just about to anything you want or need.

Introduction to Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ, is now the fifth largest city in the United States. According to U.S. Census data, Phoenix is the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Phoenix is also the capital of Arizona, as well as the largest city and largest metropolitan area in Arizona. Phoenix is the largest capital city by population, and the third largest capital city by area in the United States.

Phoenix is located in central Arizona, in the southeastern United States. It is 20 minutes west of Tempe, and 20 minutes southwest of Scottsdale. Phoenix is home to more than five Fortune 1000 company headquarters, including well-recognized names such as Avnet, Phelps Dodge, and PetSmart. Nearby Tempe is home to US Airways. Other companies with major operations in Phoenix include: Intel, Motorola, AlliedSignal, Honeywell, Boeing, American Express, Prudential, Charles Schwab and more.

Phoenix has received the National Civic League's prestigious "All-America City" Award four times. In 1993, Phoenix was selected as the "Best Run City in the World" by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany.

Phoenix has an arid climate that is characterized by some of the hottest seasonal temperatures anywhere. Phoenix averages 325 sunny days and less than eight inches of rain a year. The hottest recorded summer temperature was 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow is very rare in Phoenix, though it still can occur occasionally.

About Phoenix

Phoenix is the capitol of Arizona state, and was incorporated as a city on February 5, 1881. Phoenix is located in central Arizona in the southwestern United States, 118 miles (188 kilometers) northwest of Tucson. Phoenix is Arizona's largest city and largest metropolitan area by population. It is also the county seat of Maricopa County and the principal city of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Phoenix is appropriately called Hoozdo, or "the place is hot", in the Navajo language and Fiinigis in the Western Apache language.

In 2006 Phoenix was the sixth largest city in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2000 U.S. Census reported the Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as the fourteenth largest in the U.S., with a population of 3,251,876. The city's MSA grew to an estimated 3,790,000 by 2004. Between 1990 and 2000, the metropolitan area grew by 34 percent, making it the eighth fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. Phoenix is the largest capital city by population in the U.S., and the third largest capital city by area in the U.S. Phoenix has been selected four times since 1950 as an All-America City, rare among larger cities. The hallmark of an All-America City is the extent to which its private citizens get involved in the workings of their government. Thousands of citizens have served on various city committees, boards and commissions to assure that major decisions are in the best interest of the people.

Phoenix History

The original settlers of what was to become Phoenix were the Hohokam Indian people, who lived there as early as 300 BC. The first non-native American settlers founded a farming community near what was to become Phoenix. The Town of Phoenix was officially recognized in May of 1868. Phoenix was incorporated as a city in 1881. At that time it had a population of approximately 2,500 people.

Some key dates in Phoenix's history include:

In 1911, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam near Phoenix, then the largest masonry dam in the world, began operation.

In 1912, Phoenix became a state capital with Arizona statehood.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge sold 13,000 acres of South Mountain to Phoenix. This was to become South Mountain Park, which, at its present size of 16,500 acres, is the largest metropolitan park in the world. Every year South Mountain Park sees three million visitors.

Phoenix Arts and Culture

Phoenix is a center of arts and culture. Phoenix offers museums, the performing arts, and much more. Some of Phoenix's more notable museums include:

The Arizona Science Center

The Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Papago Salado

The Heard Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Museum of History

The Phoenix Zoo in nearby Papago Salado

The Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park in nearby Papago Salado

For patrons of the performing arts, Phoenix has a lot to offer. Some of the more notable attractions include:

The Actor's Theatre of Phoenix

The Arizona Opera

Ballet Arizona

The Herberger Theater Center

The Orpheum Theatre

The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra

The Phoenix Theatre

Phoenix Sports and Leisure

Phoenix has plenty to offer to keep sports fans happy. Phoenix is home to the following major sports teams:

Baseball - The Major League Baseball (MLB), Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition, in the spring of every year, nine major league baseball teams come to the Phoenix area for spring training.

Basketball - The National Basketball Association (NBA) Phoenix Suns, and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.

Football - The National Football League (NFL) Arizona Cardinals.

Hockey - The National Hockey League (NHL) Phoenix Coyotes.

Lacrosse - The National Lacrosse League (NLL) Arizona Sting play in nearby Glendale.

Nearby Tempe is also home to the NCAA College Football Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl. Phoenix is also often referred to as the "golf capital of the world" with more than 200 golf courses in the greater Phoenix area.

Phoenix's dry and sunny climate make it an ideal location for a wide variety of outdoor activities. In addition to "normal" outdoor activities such as roller-blading, biking, horseback riding, hiking, boating and more, Phoenix is an ideal location for more exotic outdoor activities such as hot-air ballooning, or soaring in a glider.

Phoenix "Must See" Attractions

Phoenix has attractions too numerous to do justice in a simple list. Some of Phoenix's more unique attractions include:

The Desert Botanical Garden

The Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum

The Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park

South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the world

Phoenix at Night

As one would expect of a city in the southwest, Phoenix restaurants offer wonderful southwestern, Latino, and Mexican cuisine. But Phoenix also offers a good selection of other cuisine, including eastern cuisine such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese, as well as the cuisine of many other cultures. If interests turn more to the evening nightclub scene, Phoenix offers everything from brew pubs, to sports bars, dance clubs, and country. Good places to look for the latest venues and happenings include "The Rep Entertainment Guide" section of the Arizona Republic, the weekly New Times, and Where Phoenix/Scottsdale Magazine.

Downtown Phoenix

The downtown area of Phoenix has been undergoing a major facelift since the building of the US Airways Center (formerly America West Arena) and Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark). Coffeehouses, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping in the Arizona Center continue to draw people downtown for the hopping nightlife. Many new restaurants have blossomed, including A League Of Our Own. Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history with culture and local events, Copper Square is a full square-mile hotspot for activities and action. Downtown attractions include a walk in the park at Patriots Square or delve into the new Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Museum of History or the Phoenix Art Museum.

Phoenix Historical Homes Districts

Search AZ MLS For FREE ~ Historical Phoenix District Homes and Much, Much More.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Arizona Biltmore History and Homes Search

Privately owned Arizona Biltmore Villas, located conveniently around swimming pools and overlooking the golf course gracing the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa landscape. Designed for maximizing interior light and views, the amenities in these homes include private balconies or patios, elegantly appointed master and guest bathrooms, full service private kitchen, large walk-in closets and private laundry.

Multi-million dollar single-family homes also surround the resort.
Numerous amount of luxury condos are springing up in and around the entire Biltmore Corridor.

Search for a Biltmore home, condo, patio home, town home or villa.

Resort History
A pre-Depression triumph, the Arizona Biltmore was Warren McArthur's idea. A car salesman who eventually founded the Arizona Museum and the Arizona Club, a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce, McArthur was entranced by the desert. He and his brother Charles thought the state was a tourist paradise—but one that lacked the critical element of accommodations.

The McArthurs found a plot of land—a 200-acre citrus orchard then eight miles outside of downtown Phoenix—and a handful of investors. They turned to their brother, Albert, to build their hotel.

Albert had apprenticed under famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and even today many believe incorrectly that Wright designed the sweeping, low-lying resort. Wright did consult on the Biltmore's cement block construction. He'd used large cement blocks, made on site, in several of his own projects. The so-called Biltmore block designed by sculptor Emry Kopta features a pattern inspired by the underside of a palm frond and calls to mind the Mayan-like designs Wright used on the face of cement blocks for his buildings. In the same way Wright used patterned blocks as architectural accents, Kopta's Biltmore blocks appear throughout the Biltmore, inside and out. Wright's influence, either directly or through his apprentice, also appears obvious in such details as the foyer's geometric stained-glass mural and the ballroom's stained-glass windows. No one disputes the origins of the "Sprite" sculptures outside the main entrance; Wright designed them in 1914 for Chicago's Midway Gardens, and they were moved to the Biltmore in 1982.

Wright, however, was not pleased with the Biltmore. The curmudgeonly architect declared it "even worse" than he had expected, and when people began questioning the extent of his involvement, he drafted a letter that cunningly praised the building. "All I have done in connection with the building of the Arizona Biltmore, near Phoenix, I have done for Albert McArthur . . . . [He] is the architect of that building," Wright wrote. "But for him, Phoenix would have had nothing like the Biltmore, and it is my hope that he may be enabled to give Phoenix many more beautiful buildings . . . ."
Wright's careful praise notwithstanding, the new resort earned great acclaim. More than 600 celebrants attended its opening on February 23, 1929, as a plane circled overhead and dropped a large wooden key from the skies. That key is now on view in the Biltmore's History Room, on the third floor above the soaring lobby. Along with it are pages from the Arizona Republican with stories about the opening. "Phoenix Heralded Around the World as Biltmore Opens Today," trumpeted the front-page banner headline. Inside, the paper printed descriptions of the glorious ball gowns and lavish food. Since then, the Biltmore has seen a continuous parade of the glamorous and famous—the Reagans, the Clintons, Steven Spielberg, Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Peter Falk, Mike Ditka, U2, the Chicago Bulls; the list is long. Clark Gable lost his wedding ring on the golf course and rewarded groundskeepers who found it.

Only six weeks after its glittering opening, the resort closed in deference to Arizona's intensely hot summer weather. On October 29, before the Biltmore could reopen its doors, the stock market crashed. Although the hotel managed to open on November 10, the McArthur brothers were ruined, and the resort passed into the hands of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. Under Wrigley and then his son, Philip, the Biltmore was constantly freshened and expanded. In 1963 the resort finally installed air conditioning, a project that took weeks and cost $1 million.

Wrigley sold the Biltmore in June 1973, and the new owner closed it for renovations. Two weeks later, a spark from a welder's torch ignited insulation between the walls, setting off Phoenix's first six-alarm blaze. Ironically, the welder had been helping install a sprinkler system for fire protection. Architects from Wright's Taliesin West oversaw repair of the destroyed fourth floor and roof and the severely charred lower floors.

The resort reopened in September 1973 and hasn't closed since. After an extensive renovation and expansion in 1996, the hotel remains as reminiscent of Wright's style today as it was in 1929, though it's much larger and has all the latest amenities. Lobby and guest room furnishings are Mission-style oak pieces, and fabrics are soothing hues of beige and cream. In contrast to the sunburst of vivid geraniums, lush grass and turquoise pools that awaits outside, the high-ceilinged lobby seems refreshingly dim and cool.

The only existing hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert." The resort's design was inspired by consulting architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who collaborated with former student Albert Chase McArthur.

Perhaps the most obvious and dramatic design link to Wright is the use of indigenous materials that led to the creation of the "Biltmore Block." The pre-cast concrete blocks were molded on-site and used in the total construction of the resort. Designed by Emry Kopta, a prominent southwestern sculptor, the "Biltmore Block" features a geometric pattern inspired by a palm tree.

Did you know that the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa?

In 1930, when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers.

In May of 1973, the Wrigley family sold the Biltmore to Talley Industries, which closed the resort for renovations that summer. During the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignited the gold leaf ceiling in the main lobby resulting in a six-alarm fire. Taliesin Associated Architects (of Taliesin West) was commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the damaged floors, and a renovation of the resort. As in 1929, concrete blocks were molded on-site; patterns from the early 1920s were woven into carpets ordered from Ireland, and designs for furniture, fabrics and murals were selected with the integrity of the architecture in mind. The project was completed in a record 82 days and the result was a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.

In 1975, under Talley Industries' ownership, the first major expansion took place with the opening of the 90-room Paradise Wing. This expansion continued over the next seven years with the addition of the 120-room Valley Wing and a 39,000-square-foot Conference Center in 1979. In 1982, the 109-room Terrace Court opened. Another renovation was completed in 1987 which included the remodeling of 120 guestrooms throughout the main building in addition to the East and Garden Wings. A year later, the historic cottages were also refurbished.

The most comprehensive renovation to date began when the previous owner, Grossman Company Properties, a Phoenix based development firm, purchased the resort in 1992 and began a three-phase, $50 million project which was completed in January 1996. Refurbished by Barry Design Associates of Los Angeles, guest rooms and suites pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright in their mission-style furnishings, desert palette (tones of beige, sand, and ivory) and lamps which recall a 1930s flair. The Villas, a luxury residential complex was added along with restaurants, a state-of-the-art kitchen and the Paradise Pool complex featuring a 92-foot-long water slide and 23 cabanas. New meeting space included the Pavilion, a 15,000 square-foot facility. An 18-hole championship putting course was also added.

In January 1998, a 20,000 square-foot Arizona Biltmore Spa, fitness center and full-service beauty salon opened. The newest addition, the new Arizona Wing, features 120 new guest rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and two new meeting rooms. The resort boasts 734 guest rooms and is the largest resort in Arizona.

With the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom in July, 2003, the Arizona Biltmore became one of Arizona’s largest meeting and event venues. The new ballroom, the state’s second largest hotel ballroom with 25,000 square feet, was the highlight of a $25 million renovation and expansion of the meeting facilities that increased dedicated indoor function space to more than 100,000 square feet. The project also included converting the tented Pavilion into the 15,000-square-foot McArthur Ballroom. Both new facilities were constructed in the original Wright style.

Thanks to conscientious owners who have been committed to preserving its architectural integrity, the resort is, in many ways, more "Wrightian" than when it was built. And, throughout the years, the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa has set the standard for elegance and style. It continues to attract celebrities and dignitaries from around the world and is frequently honored with awards and accolades, including the Urban Land Institute "Heritage Award of Excellence" which the resort received for its architectural integrity, landscaping, and above all, quality of service.

Search for a luxurious property in or around the Arizona Biltmore.

Diagnosis For Downtown Phoenix Growth

It's a vision, not a blueprint. Downtown Phoenix.

An opportunity, not a regulatory obstacle course.

It's the proposed Phoenix Biomedical District, a 120-acre parcel in downtown Phoenix targeting health care and bioresearch facilities.

An area large enough to accommodate medical offices, diagnostic centers, surgical offices, schools, clinics and the natural growth and expansion of the current biomedical campus. Plus, the parking, residential retail and commercial infrastructure to handle all that growth.

It's Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's idea. And it stems from the controversy over what hospital should affiliate with the fledgling University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix.

The city already has the Phoenix biomedical campus, a narrow strip, mostly between Seventh and Fifth streets, Monroe to Garfield. The area already houses the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a fledgling branch of the UA College of Medicine, and the Arizona Biomedical Collaboration, a joint research venture of the three state universities.

But a string of suitors is already lining up for remaining vacant land.

The problem: In total, they would wrap around the 28-acre campus several times over. Consider:

• Banner Health and UA are negotiating details over a site for a teaching hospital and a cancer research center.

• Phoenix Union High School District is building a bioscience high school between Fifth and Sixth streets, Pierce and McKinley, incorporating the historic McKinley Elementary School. Some 400 students will attend, beginning in August. With parking, it will take up an entire city block.

• The three state universities hope to build at least two more ABC research centers. And the UA medical school, pharmacy college and allied health services are seeking an additional classroom building. And a nursing high school is in the planning stage.

• Even if the Maricopa County Health District Board cannot reach an agreement with UA, it still wants a place within walking distance of the UA medical school. The board and Maricopa Integrated Health System administrators are looking at options right now.

In short, there's not enough room on the biocampus. Consultants are advising Phoenix to follow health district models in Cambridge, Mass., and at the University of San Francisco, in particular. A group of city officials and others plan to visit Houston's sprawling Texas Medical Center in late April.

Gordon's response is for people to heed Horace Greeley's classic advice: Go West.

To a corridor of opportunity, between Fillmore and Van Buren from Seventh Street to Seventh Avenue, especially west of Central Avenue, 120 acres of strategically located - but currently underutilized - parcels, including vast swaths of vacant land up and down Second, Third and Fourth avenues.

Gordon and the city manager's staff can list any number of prospects that have approached the city on possible sites.

Gordon's biomedical "district" does not envision broad-based incentives or tax subsidies. It would not block other developments like the planned ASU School of Journalism and student residential facility. It would not condemn the law offices and consultants that have sprouted up within the area.

What it would do is send a promising message to the robust and expanding health care industry: We want to work with you.

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Fairview Place Historic District Info & Homes For Sale

Fairview Place Historic District resides in a charming area of central Phoenix, between the Arizona State Fairgrounds and the Rose Garden at Encanto Park (between 17th Avenue and 15th Avenue, from McDowell Road to Encanto Boulevard).

Fairview Place Historic District is a downtown Phoenix neighborhood of modest homes that are cozy and unpretentious. There are 14 architectural styles represented here, including Southwest, Tudor, English Stone Cottage and Transitional Ranch. They average in size from 900 to 1,400 square feet. The homes are well-built with nice attention to detail. Currently the homes sell in the $100,000 to $180,000+ range.

When this neighborhood was developed in the 1920's, it was outside the city limits of Phoenix. A 1928 newspaper advertisement boasted that a home in Fairview Place would offer "a distinct social and business asset." The suburban trend was underway and homes were built well into the 1940's.

Fairview Place neighbors decided to form an association in 1990 and look into attaining official historic designation. This was an all-volunteer effort completed by a group of interested neighbors. They measured, photographed and researched all 342 homes. Neighbors also planted 360 trees in the parkways. There is a monthly newsletter and various social get-togethers which allow folks to become better acquainted. In 1994, Historic Designation was granted and Fairview Place was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fairview Place Historic District

Windows Into Time
We live in the present. We hope for the future. But we are inescapably drawn to the past. History is restored in libraries, displayed in museums, and recorded in archives and files. We plan trips and excursions to seek out the past, but fail to observe it just under our feet. The homes where we live, our neighborhoods, and the cities that contain them all stand as silent testament to the past that is our prologue. On the west-central side of modern- day Phoenix, a thriving neighborhood serves as an anthology of the ebb and flow of the 20th century growth, trends, regulation and economics throughout the city, the state, and the nation. That neighborhood is Fairview Place.

Growing Pains
First settled in 1867, Phoenix grew slowly until after the turn of the century. By 1911, const ruction was complete on the Roosevelt Dam, ensuring a stable supply of water. In 1912, Arizona became a state, and the stage was set for a boom to begin. Individuals conducted early Phoenix land development and building companies, usually subdividing small parcels of land into residential lots. Speculative construction was rare; homebuilding was generally done on a contract basis.

Stretching from McDowell Road to Encanto Boulevard and bounded by 15th and 17th Avenues, Fairview Place was one of the first attempts at large-scale residential subdivisions in Phoenix. After recording the plat in 1916, the State Realty and Sales Company ambitiously promoted the sale of lots.

But the project was ahead of its time. Outside the city limits, Fairview Place was poorly served by streetcar lines and developed roads. More troubling, the Cave Creek wash to the northeast ran uncontrolled and seasonal floods surged across the land. Completing subdivisions to the east fed the market demand, which faded at the outbreak of the First World War. With it faded early hopes for Fairview Place - no homes would ever be built by the State Realty and Sales Company.

Great Expectations
America prospered between the World Wars, and the "Roaring Twenties" brought Phoenix its second burst of growth. Agriculture led the way, fueled by a strong demand for the state's cotton and citrus. Improved airline service nursed an infant tourist industry. And strong economic growth drew new residents who in turn breathed life into a dormant housing market. Developers found new courage as speculative residential subdivisions began to prosper.

By 1923, the Cave Creek Dam was completed, eliminating the prospect of floods. Streetcar lines no longer limited development, as the number of motor vehicles in Phoenix swelled from 382 in 1910 to a 1920 total of almost 12,000. The west side of town was now ripe for development, and in 1928, Fairview Place, under the new ownership of F.W. Mathiesen, was a bud about to blossom.

Rivaling Revivals
"Everything Points to Fairview Place," proclaimed the project promotions produced by the Mathiesen Construction Company. Though still outside the city bounds, the development boasted gravel roads and city lights and water. Positioned in the market to capitalize on suburban trends, Fairview Place was touted as "a distinct social and business asset. "The development appealed to prevailing trends in architecture as well. From the mid-1920's until the Depression, Phoenix joined the nation on a merry-go-round ride of historic Period Revival styles. The initial waive of construction slated for the subdivision included 50 homes, in groups of 10, all to be in a style that Mathiesen termed "Americanized Dutch." In reality, nine homes were completed in 1928, reflecting six different styles including Southwest, Tudor, and Spanish Colonial Revival.

The following year brought the stock market crash and signaled the start of a worldwide depression. But the Salt River Valley was slow to feel the pinch, and in Phoenix, the demand for residential construction endured. From 1929 until 1932, another 20 homes were completed in Fairview Place with a similar variety of styles including a rare Phoenix example of the streamlined style termed Art Moderne By 1933, however, the Valley finally fell victim to the lengthening cycle of financial pressure. No homes would be constructed in Fairview Place that year, and the plans of the Mathiesen Company would never be fulfilled.

The Long Shadow Of Uncle Sam
In the mid-1930's, a potent force came riding into town. In an effort to break the stranglehold of economic depression, New Deal politics spread federal spending throughout the country. Public construction projects revitalized Phoenix, enhancing streets and schools and expanding the city's airport. With the projects came jobs, income, and rejuvenated growth.

For residential real estate, the driving force was not just these projects, but also the loan insurance provided by the newly created Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA-backed mortgage loans made home ownership a reality for a broad range of the population. The late 1930's produced record numbers of FHA financed homes both in Phoenix and across the nation.

Back At The Ranch
Locally, no neighborhood more dramatically displays the effects of FHA programs than Fairview Place. Construction in the subdivision jumped from just two homes in 1937 to 74 completed in the next two years. "Built and Approved Under FHA" because a mainstay of the project's promotion and advertising. The change was evident not only in numbers, but in architectural style as well. FHA design standards encouraged efficiency in both form and materials. These standards, teamed with the influence of the International Style popularized in Europe and the declining popularity of Period Revivals, led to the development of the Ranch Style home. This simple, clean style would come to symbolize the modern American West and is the essence of Fairview Place.

Two variations on the style are most prominent in the neighborhood. The Transitional or Early Ranch is a small box-like form with L-shaped plan and low-pitched gable or hip roof. The French Provincial Ranch is typically an elongated version of the design with multiple hip roofs, steel-casement corner windows, and irregular floor plans exhibiting greater complexity. Development continued into the early 1940's, but World War II brought new construction to a halt. In 1944, not a single home was built in the subdivision. But after the war, renewed government intervention - this time in the form of the "G.I. Bill" - again ignited the housing industry. Servicemen trained at Luke and Williams Air Bases returned to the Valley to build homes financed through the Veterans Administration. The Ranch Style home maintained its popularity in these years, and by 1947, 90 percent of the homes now in Fairview Place were completed.

Homegrown Heroes
Many of the city's most prominent citizens have called Fairview Place their home, among them some developers who gave the project form. Andy and J.R. Womack, of the Andy Womack Building Company, built numerous Fairview Place homes. They both lived within the neighborhood they helped construct, as did Alfred Anderson, principal in the building firm of Maxwell and Anderson.

Former Arizona Governor, Wesley Bolin, lived in Fairview Place when first elected Secretary of State. Horse breeder and media mogul Tom Chauncey built himself a Fairview Place home while working as a jeweler. Sixteen-year Fire Chief H. H. Dean came home to Fairview Place as did Gladys Bagley, whose tenure as Editor of The Arizona Republic & Gazette's Women's Pages spanned three decades.

Historic Fairview Place Today
Urban sprawl left Fairview Place subject to the pressures shared by most central city, residential neighborhoods. As movement shifted toward the suburbs, the popularity of downtown neighborhoods declined. But Fairview Place's proximity to Encanto Park and the Sate Fair Grounds provided a unique setting that continued to enhance the local lifestyle. Resurgent interest in downtown living is now adding to the vitality of Fairview Place. Citizens looking for new solutions have returned to the past and rediscovered the richness of historic neighborhoods. Renewed interest has brought a dedication to preserve and improve these civic assets.

Fairview Place is an active participant in this movement, and community action has brought a new look to this historic district. The Fairview Place Citizens Association sponsors newsletters and seminars, has brought neighbors together, and notably, as restricted the volume of traffic in the neighborhood. These activities have fostered increased neighborhood pride, which has transformed not only the spirit, but also the presence of the district. The past is preserved, the present dynamic, and the shape of the future will reflect both in time; "Everything Points to Fairview Place."

Search for homes in the Fairview Place Historical District in Phoenix, AZ.

Phoenix Named 2nd Best City for Jobs Nationwide

Phoenix Named 2nd Best City for Jobs Nationwide
By Ellen Wulfhorst ~ Reuters

NEW YORK (Feb. 17) - Raleigh, North Carolina, topped the list of the best U.S. cities for getting a job, according to an annual survey released on Friday by Forbes.com.

Among U.S. states, Florida is home to the most cities among the top 25 best spots for job opportunities, with Jacksonville at No. 3 and Orlando at No. 4 as well as Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Tampa and West Palm Beach, Forbes said.

Rounding out the top five cities were Phoenix in second place and Washington, D.C., in fifth place, Forbes said. The U.S. capital was No. 1 in the previous year's list.

Forbes said it compiled the list by ranking unemployment rates, job growth, income growth, median household incomes and costs of living in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Raleigh, part of the so-called "research triangle" with Durham and Chapel Hill where several major universities are located, has low unemployment, strong income and job growth, high incomes and a relatively low cost of living, Forbes said.

"There isn't much of a negative in Raleigh," said Steven Cochrane, an economist with Moody's Economy.com, which provided data for the survey.

"It has a lot of the amenities of Florida, except not the hurricanes," Cochrane said in a Forbes.com article accompanying the survey.

Many large cities fared badly. New York ranked No. 75, Chicago was No. 82, Los Angeles was No. 88 and Boston was No. 83.

Big cities have high median incomes but also tend to have unemployment, expensive housing and low job growth, Forbes said.

Most of the top ranked cities were in the Southeast and Southwest, benefiting from such factors as warm weather, land available for development, lower costs of living and business-friendly tax climates, Forbes said.

Browse online for a Phoenix Historical home or a home in the Phoenix-Metro area.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rules Sought on Mortgage Officers

Rules Sought on Mortgage Officers
Bill to require licensing would help curb fraud, backers say
Catherine Reagor ~ The Arizona Republic ~ Feb. 12, 2007

Many of the people in Arizona who help home buyers finance what is often the biggest purchase of their lives are not licensed.

In the rapidly growing mortgage industry, many of these unlicensed people who handle home loans can put consumers at risk.

If home buyers get a bad loan with an exorbitant interest rate and extra fees, they are stuck.

And if unlicensed mortgage officers scam customers or engage in mortgage fraud, it's hard to hold them accountable.

It's estimated that there are as many as 18,000 unlicensed people taking mortgage applications, negotiating rates and getting loan commissions statewide. Many are enticed by the Valley's housing boom, exotic and often risky mortgages and no licensing requirements.

But things could change. If House Bill 2320 is passed, it will require the licensing of most of Arizona's mortgage loan officers and originators and bring more accountability to the industry.

If the legislation becomes law, mortgage officers and originators will have to take a class on the business, pass a test and pay a fee. They also won't be able to have any felony convictions anywhere in the country and will have to report whenever they move to another lender so regulators can track them.

The Department of Financial Institutions, which oversees state banks, credit unions, escrow firms and mortgage brokers and lenders, is backing the bill and would be responsible for regulating mortgage officers.

Complaints have soared from Arizona consumers getting mortgages with hidden fees and prepayment penalties and higher interest rates than promised. Foreclosures are climbing partly because many of those homeowners can't afford their mortgage payments.

Kelly Lewan recently bought a home in north Phoenix's Tatum Ranch. She secured a loan with a 9 percent interest rate and a promise that she could refinance in a few months and cut her payment. She even paid off a prepayment penalty on the loan when she closed.

Now, Lewan is struggling to make her monthly payment, and her mortgage agent isn't returning her calls.

"There are loan officers in Arizona who aren't educated on the business. They make mistakes and put consumers in the wrong loans. And some are committing fraud," said Stan Lund, president-elect of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Brokers.

"This legislation will make mortgage officers more accountable," he added.

Many experienced Arizona mortgage brokers and officers are backing the legislation.

Licensing loophole

The Department of Financial Institutions licenses mortgage brokers, but that is just a fraction of the people handling home loans in Arizona.

Only the official "broker" for a firm must be licensed. So a mortgage brokerage could have 50 employees handling loans, but only one designated broker is licensed. If the mortgage license legislation passes, those 50 loan officers would have to be tested, licensed and regulated, too.

The number of unlicensed mortgage agents in Arizona has shot up in the past five years, industry experts say. Although there are estimates of as many as 18,000, it's impossible to know exactly because there is no way to track them.

As for licensed mortgage brokers, the number has jumped to 1,390 from 775 since 2001. Licensed mortgage lenders have increased in that same time, to 619 from 335.

"We want to regulate anyone who is soliciting loans and getting commissions," said Felecia Rotellini, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Institutions.

"This will help us crack down on bad loans and fraud," she added.

She recently led efforts to start a statewide mortgage fraud task force to tackle a cash-back scam that involves obtaining a mortgage for more than a home is worth and pocketing the extra money. The scam inflates home values and defrauds lenders funding the loans. Separate legislation that would make mortgage fraud a felony subject to 10 years in prison also has been introduced.

More than 30 states have laws licensing mortgage officers.

"The bad mortgage brokers who can't pass tests in other states have gone to Arizona, and some of them couldn't get licenses because they have criminal records," said Richard Hagar, a Washington appraiser who helped that state crack down on fraud and who is a national speaker on the problem.

This is the fourth time backers of regulating mortgage officers have tried to get a law passed. One sticking point has been with such big mortgage lenders as Countrywide and Wells Fargo, which are licensed nationally and have hundreds of mortgage originators in Arizona. Those groups train their loan officers and originators and have strict compliance rules, but they have not wanted to license brokers locally because of the costs. This time they are exempt from the legislation.

"I know of mortgage people working out of their bedrooms and selling stereos on the side. They got into the business six months ago and don't know a lot about it. They can give the industry a bad name," said Rick Allen, a branch manager with the Valley mortgage firm O'Dowd and Associates.

"But the big lenders who are exempt from the legislation are also hiring people without any experience, and those people can also do bad loans."

Separately, mortgage regulators across the country are working to start a database to track all mortgage originators.

'I trusted him'

Most people assume that all mortgage officers are licensed in Arizona and that any loans offered them are legitimate.

Borrowers turn over their Social Security numbers, W2 forms and other personal information to mortgage officers. And those mortgage people can tap big financing for homes.

Lewan said she thought everything was on the up and up when her Valley mortgage officer said she could get a $310,000 loan for a $299,000 home. She said he told her the extra $11,000 could be applied to her debt and she could quickly refinance to get a better loan with a lower rate because her credit record would improve.

But she said most of the $11,000 went to the mortgage broker, and he won't return her calls about the money or help her refinance to reduce her $2,400 monthly payment.

"I called his boss and got nowhere, and neither my broker or his boss are licensed," said Lewan, the single mother of two boys works two jobs, as an interior decorator and at a furniture store.

"I trusted him, and now I can't make my house payment and had no idea getting money back was part of a scam."

She said she is going to file a complaint with the Department of Financial Institutions. But the agency will have no record of the mortgage broker she worked with because he is not licensed.

Regulators and mortgage watchdogs say consumers need to educate themselves more, but licensing brokers will help cut down on the problems.

"So many sales contracts fall out of escrow in the Valley because of incompetent mortgage people," said Mary Gomez, a West Valley real estate agent with Realty Executives. "Real estate agents have to have licenses. Appraisers have to have licenses. All mortgage officers should, too."

Find a real estate agent who works with licensed, ethical and FAIR lenders to find a loan that's right for you.

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Learn the basics and the importance of a quality loan.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Builders Coveting Historic District

Builders Coveting Historic District
Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor ~The Arizona Republic ~ Feb. 4, 2007

Increasing development pressure for high-rise towers in Phoenix's historic Warehouse District has city planners rewriting the rules for building heights and preservation.

Years of work to rejuvenate the heart of downtown Phoenix continues to pay off, and now developers have their eyes on land just south of the city center for skyscraping condominiums.

The Warehouse District, roughly from Madison to Lincoln streets between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street, is peppered with about 40 warehouses that once stored furniture, produce and other merchandise. Many other warehouses have been demolished over the years to make way for such things as a baseball stadium and a basketball arena.

The district was created to preserve the character and unique architectural mix of the buildings in that historic pocket of the city. But the land is prime for development, especially if it lures the dwellers that area desperately needs.

Phoenix Planning Director Debra Stark said the challenge is balancing the competing interests of landowners, developers and historic preservationists.

She said there were real opportunities in the Warehouse District.

"You want to restore and protect the history of a city," she said. "But you also want to allow for the exciting and new development."

There are competing proposals over building heights, but both allow projects up to 250 feet in some parts of the district.

The debate is over what the trade-off should be with developers to preserve the warehouses.

Phoenix planning commissioners say that a developer should be able to build as high as 250 feet on a 30,000-square-foot parcel in exchange for buying a 30-year conservation easement. Or they can simply go to the City Council for approval.

A conservation easement generates money to restore a historic warehouse, then guarantees its protection for at least 30 years.

City staff members say that such preservation efforts should get a developer only up to 140 feet on a 30,000-square-foot parcel and that the City Council should have the final say on anything taller than that.

Some property owners believe neither proposal goes far enough to protect the legacy of those warehouses.

But there is little protection now, even for warehouses on the Phoenix Register of Historic Places. If the owner of a warehouse on that list wants to tear down it down, the city can withhold a demolition permit only for a year.

But officials also are grappling with political concerns, including appeasing developers with high-rise projects just north of the Warehouse District who have plotted their projects based on neighboring buildings being capped at 56 feet, or 80 feet with a waiver.

And 250-foot towers in the Warehouse District could easily mar views or devalue properties.

Planning Commissioner Joan Klechner said any proposal should be simple and straightforward to encourage development in an area that people have talked about improving for more than a decade.

"We finally have developers who understand and are willing to renovate the best of the historic warehouses in exchange for getting as much height as they can for their buildings," she said. "It's a fair trade."

The district has piqued the interest of developers such as Dale Jensen, a Diamondbacks general partner and investor in the Phoenix Suns.

Jensen has closed on a deal to bring the Champ Car World Series street race to that area and is working on an entertainment district there as well. It would create entertainment, retail and dining options in the area.

But Mike Levine, a historic preservationist and property owner, said the proposals give unfair advantage to developers who own or have interest in several properties in the district.

He said that those owners can "buy" all the conservation easements they need from themselves to build their towers. And because preserving a building is defined only as making it watertight and structurally sound, it doesn't guarantee that the historic character of the area will truly be restored.

Another problem is that a developer can buy an easement on a warehouse that needs very little restoration and get the same amount of height credit as investing in a warehouse also worthy of saving but that requires much more work, Levine said.

"This poorly vetted, ill-conceived plan being pushed through to meet the deadline of one developer is not the way to do urban infill," he said. "Especially not at the expense of historic preservation."

Robert Dunn, who owns a small piece of the Warehouse District, questioned why any changes were necessary.

He said that developers have been allowed to go higher than 200 feet in that area, citing the 22-story Summit at Copper Square at Jackson and Fourth streets.

"This is certainly not right for us," he said.

Search for homes in any of the Phoenix Historical Districts.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Arizona Likely to Outpace Nation In Real Estate Sales

Arizona Likely to Outpace Nation
ASU's Nobel winner makes 2007 forecast

by Erica Sagon
The Arizona Republic ~ Jan. 24, 2007

Arizona's economy will take a breather from red-hot growth this year but still will grow faster than the national economy, said Edward Prescott, 2004 Nobel Prize winner in economics and economics chair of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Prescott predicted on Tuesday that the U.S. economy will grow by 3 percent this year, with Arizona faring a little better. Prescott addressed business executives at the Arizona Bank & Trust 2007 Economic Summit.

"The Arizona economy has been doing well," Prescott said. "Arizona has its trend. There's also a national trend that's a nice, modest one. But the Arizona trend dominates.

"There's got to be another 20 years of rapid growth, and then health thereafter," he said.

Prescott, who is also senior monetary adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the housing market would hold back economic growth a bit.

"This year will not be quite as strong in Arizona because of the inventory of housing" that needs to be absorbed, Prescott said.

Prescott, 66, shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in economics with colleague Finn Kydland for their work on business cycles and macroeconomic policy.

Prescott, the first ASU professor to win a Nobel Prize, is teaching two economics courses this semester: one undergraduate course for honors students and one doctorate-level course.

Prescott's expectations for the national economy this year include:

• The dollar will not crash, and appreciation is as likely as depreciation.

• The Federal Reserve will maintain a stable, low inflation rate.

• Congress will not increase the tax rate, which would depress the economy.

Katie Pushor, president of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, also weighed in on the Valley's economy during a panel discussion with Prescott.

The low employment rate is a plus to the Valley's economy, but the declining affordability of housing is working against employers who are trying to attract workers from out of state, Pushor said.

She added that the Valley's population growth has boosted the popularity of some types of businesses, including pet-sitting and boarding services, children's learning centers and limo and executive driver services.

Meanwhile, the state's exports of goods and services have dropped each year since 2003, she said.

"We're primarily growing within our state," Pushor said. "We're not really participating in that global economy yet."

To buy or sell a home in the Phoenix Downtown area or the Phoenix-Metro area, call Laura Boyajian, aka, Laura B. today at 602.400.0008 and/or visit her Historical Phoenix Homes website.

Don't forget to check out the luxury lofts and high-rises in the downtown Phoenix area, especially along Central Ave.