This is a friendly reminder that the Grand Ave. Festival is happening on Sept. 26th, and there will be a special walking tour of many of the adaptive reuse buildings around Grand Ave.

Check out this reminder press release with great details about all of the buildings on the tour:



Beatrice Moore

Phoenix, AZ  (September 14, 2009) — The Grand Avenue Festival, an all day event on September 26, will be highlighting the history of the Lower Grand Avenue area and the many interesting adaptive re-use projects there as part of the day’s many festivities. Tickets are $ 10 per person and can be purchased by calling 602.391.4016 or by visiting the festival website at Proceeds from ticket sales for the guided walking tours will go to the Grand Avenue Merchants’ Association (GAMA).

Grand Avenue has a long, and storied history which continues to be added to today with the many new uses that have been popping up in the Lower Grand Avenue district (from Van Buren to the 1-10 Freeway overpass) – with many buildings reverting from industrial uses back to the original small retail and office uses that once lined this important connector to Wickenburg, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and points west. An influential factor in this renaissance has been the many innovative commercial adaptive re-use projects in the neighborhood: new owners have preserved parts of the existing vintage structures while making modern conversions that allow for more practicality in today’s world, including a myriad of hybrid uses.

Adaptive re-use of commercial buildings in older commercial districts is an important factor in creating true neighborhood sustainability, and for nurturing the small business community, particularly the arts. Many small, entrepreneurial businesses are attracted to the character these older structures lend to a neighborhood – and rents are more affordable than new construction.

This tour will focus on celebrating the unique history of Grand Avenue, as well as the wonderful adaptive re-use projects in the neighborhood, highlighting six projects along the street. Tour stops will include the following:

Tilt Gallery

This 1905 house in the Oakland-University Park neighborhood was built of cast concrete blocks, fabricated from molds to resemble quarry stones.  It was converted to an art studio and photography gallery in 2005. The current tenants, Michelle and Melanie Craven, contributed substantial sweat equity toward the renovation of the building by stripping and refurbishing the hardwood floors, installing slate flooring in the rear of the gallery, and installing attractive desert landscaping in the previously all dirt yard.

Today Tilt Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery specializing in historical to alternative photographic processes and mixed media projects. The gallery features local, national and international works by emerging and established artist.

Jordre Studio

This small commercial building was originally built as a corner grocery in 1928, and by 1929 was operating as both J.B. Johns Grocery and R.L. Mercer Meats.  Local artist Kyle Jordre purchased this newly renovated building in 2006, originally constructed of lathe and stucco with a corrugated tin roof, and now uses it as a studio to produce abstract work that includes rich colorful fields of paint with vibrant, bold and rich textures.

Paisley Violin and Paisley Town

This commercial building, one of the few along Grand Avenue with a partial basement, was purchased by Derrick and Gina Suarez in 2004, who relocated their successful Paisley Violin Cafe there from its former location at Roosevelt and 3rd street. Starting in 1925, the brick building served as a grocer, and then transitioned over the years to furniture sales, tamales, radios, amusement sales, and finally a veterinarian. In 2007 the couple relocated six small World War II cottages to the backyard of the premises and converted them to colorful small business venues that currently house a hair salon, ceramic artist, vintage boutique, yoga studio, contemporary clothing boutique and more.

Motley Design Group

This modest building was constructed in 1957 as a transmission repair shop, later used as a warehouse and workshop. It was rehabilitated in 2008 as an architecture and engineering studio.

Arnold’s Auto Body

Built in 1933, this auto body shop was the oldest actively operating body shop in the country until it closed and changed uses in 2007. It now houses the Arizona Iron Furniture store. When silent picture actor and stuntman extraordinaire Tom Mix died in 1941, after totaling his Model Cord convertible in what is now known as the Tom Mix Wash, the remains of his vehicle were towed to Arnold’s Auto Body Shop. The exposed wooden trusses, corrugated metal siding, and open architectural floorplan constructed of bare cement floors and painted cement block walls, were typical of many of the older repair shops along the street at one time. The vintage wooden frame house next door to the auto body shop is reputed to have been a brothel off and on over the years.

Bragg’s Pie Factory

This historic 1947 cast-in-place concrete building was originally built as a pie factory and currently houses a cafe, art studios, and a variety of small businesses.  The main, 4,500 sq. ft. room in the 15,000 sq. ft. building is capped by a beautiful steel bow truss roof.  Built by Alan Bragg and his wife Elaine for their expanding family pie business (formerly located on Van Buren Street close to the State capitol), the building reflects an international style of modern architecture popular at the time (with few remaining examples left in Phoenix).

Written by phxAdmin