On March 6th, 2012 the Facebook page of the Evans Churchhill Neighborhood featured a photograph of Mayor Stanton cutting the tape for groundbreaking of the new Concord Eastridge in-fill project (located on the two immediate blocks south of Roosevelt, between 3rd and 4th street) and wrote, “It promises to be a rewarding addition to our neighborhood and the Roosevelt Row CDC area.”
What you’d expect here is a photo of the glorious $52 million dollar housing project. And though you can follow the link anytime you want, I hope you’ll take a minute or two to be reminded of the history of this plot of land. A big part of the reason Phoenix is accused (by residents and non, alike) of not having any history is because when something new starts to rise, there is scarcely a memorial of what’s gone before.
According to historical imagery from Google Earth (left), the real estate of this block has been empty and barren since at least 1992. (Note monOrchid, top left of the photo, the location of our next Get Your PHX event).
As long as I, or anyone I’ve asked, can remember, this was what it always looked like. The foundations of buildings are all that remain.
In May 2010, playwright and screenwriter, Dan Frey, captured the essence of this very block when he described it in his contribution to the Phoenix art exhibit, ‘26 Blocks’:
“Mostly just space now. Space for Terry to fill shopping carts with recyclables until there’s enough to sell. Space for those kids to smoke and see anyone coming before they get in trouble. Space for an Asian-fusion-smelling breeze to cool you off. A space everyone looks through and walks around. Which makes it the perfect place to stop and look up.”
It also made it the perfect place to stop and look down, as ’26 Blocks’ photographer Chris Loomis showed us in this helicopter shot of the same location.
For two years, the crop circle has been there. Like a target, waiting for something new to set its sights on the future of that block.
March 16th, 2012, two years later, the Phoenix New Times publishes an article and updates our collective memories with photographs of the work-in-progress: “Construction on Concord Eastridge’s Roosevelt Row Apartment Complex in Full Swing”.
“$52 million dollar housing project…[to be] completed June 2013… two buildings, one seven stories, one eight stories…325 apartments will be located in each building, as well as 7,500 square-feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground level…500 square-foot studios to four-bedroom apartments…high-speed Internet, private gyms, and swimming pools”.
The New Times article also mentioned that Greg Esser (long time partner of Cindy Dach, who we wrote about in a post last week about Changing Hands) was in attendance at the groundbreaking. If it feels like this blog post is cross-referencing itself more than usual, do read the excellent Downtown Phoenix Journal post from this Feb., “Creating Downtown“, where you’ll see just how interconnected Greg Esser, Cindy Dach, Wayne Rainey (owner of monOrchid), are…and why.
Writer Susan Copeland has a paragraph in the article which she uses to make a great point. One worth clipping here:
Wayne Rainey, Kimber Lanning and Dach/Esser all bought buildings and created art spaces within six months of each other. The prices were low enough at the time to make the spaces affordable. Dach says that artists are natural problem solvers. “We looked at the closed up buildings and dark spaces and said, ‘Yeah, this sucks. How can we fix it?’”
Phoenix New Times says “[The Concord Eastridge Roosevelt Row Apartment Complex will] change the face of the Roosevelt Row arts district.”
It certainly will.
My hope is that it will also remind us of the crop circle target on the long empty lot, and that we should continue to work on Phoenix by setting our sights on the empty lots that remain.