Downtown on Top: Residential Development

Beyond the $4.7 billion in development, thousands of residential units and millions of square feet of hotel and retail space that’s planned in downtown Phoenix
There’s a palpable feeling in downtown Phoenix these days that something’s different.
“There’s just a lot of energy and excitement, “ Stanton said as he was celebrating Roosevelt Row’s designation as one of the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America in October. “People love the vibe, the excitement about it.” 
The city has come a long way from being the poster child for urban sprawl.
“We are the fastest growing city post-World War II, but most of that growth has occurred in a sprawl-like setting,” Stanton said when we sat down with him at DeSoto Central Market, an adaptive reuse project in the heart of downtown. It’s the same place he held his victory party when he was re-elected as mayor this fall.
Before the recession hit, he said, the city had made some strategic investments in revitalizing downtown. In 2005, construction of the light rail got under way and the City had struck a deal with ASU President Michael Crow to build a downtown campus for the university.
But it wasn’t until after the recession that the people started to come, Stanton said.
Now that the economy is improving and more people are turning toward an urban lifestyle, “You’re seeing it!” he said.
Stanton said investment in light rail, the arts and education paved the way for the city’s economic future economic development. Click here to watch our interview with him.
It’s a trend reflected in the real estate industry here as well.
After decades of suburban expansion, the trend toward developing further and further out of the city is turning around.
“Eventually, we have to bring people closer in so that we’re not using as many resources,” according to Rebecca Grossman, President of the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors. She said, now, walkability is the name of the game in Valley real estate, and it’s reflected in rental prices and development.
“That’s what developers are looking for and that’s what consumers are driving,” according to John Kobierowski, Senior Managing Partner with commercial brokerage firm ABI Multifamily.
Kobierowski said, in some ways, it’s cheaper for cities to develop in town than it is to expand, given the need for infrastructure development in the middle of the desert.
So, the land of sprawl is turning inward and upward.
“Now we’re starting to see more urban growth, more reliance on walkability,” he said. “That’s going to be a big part of Phoenix’s growth.”
As Tim Sprague puts it, “Phoenix has grown up.” The developer with Habitat Metro, LLC is building a massive condominium project at the corner of Roosevelt St. and Central Ave. called Portland on the Park. 
He says, we’re right in the middle of the city’s maturation process now – and developers like him are getting to shape its future.
Housing is key.
Sprague said he crunched the numbers and found there are just fewer than 6,000 people living within a half-mile radius of his development now. But, that number is likely to double in the next two years with the housing being built in there now, he said.
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