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2019 Downtown Phoenix Year in Review: Openings, Art and Events

by Taylor Bishop
Arts & Culture Community Food, Restaurants & Dining Taylor Bishop December 23, 2019

The incredible view from The Link PHX, which opened in October 2019 with the highest rooftop to have a pool, spa, sundeck and lounge in Arizona. (Photo: The Link)

Two thousand nineteen was a great year to live, work, learn and explore in Downtown Phoenix. From art to restaurants and a variety of events, it can sometimes be difficult to remember everything that happened in the past 365 days. Get a refresher on some of the developments, sustainable initiatives and art we added to our city – and some hints to what’s coming in 2020:

Openings, Renovations and Expansions

Restaurants & Retail

We finally got a grocery store in the Downtown Core this year, thanks to RED Development, as well as an assortment of new restaurants and bars.

Earlier in the year, we also welcomed Little Rituals, a cocktail bar and restaurant at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott, Arizona Wilderness DTPHX to Roosevelt Row and Monroe’s Hot Chicken to Luhrs City Center.

We also got three Bosa Donut shops and a new Mediterranean restaurant, Condesa, took the place of the former Tom’s Tavern space.

Residential

The past two years have seen a steady increase in residential completions and groundbreakings, with no sign of slowdown.

We saw our skyline rise with several developments and 1,196 units completed, including The Link – the second tallest residential building in Arizona. Currently, there are 2,483 residential units under construction and another 2,585 in predevelopment.

Hotels

The Cambria Hotel joined Hampton Inn as our newest hotel offerings. Earlier this year, AC Hotel broke ground at Arizona Center and there are multiple hotels in the pipeline, including a new hotel/office tower at Central Avenue and Adams Street.

Three major hotels, including the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, began or finished extensive remodels to their rooms and lobbies.

Talking Stick Resort Arena

The Phoenix Suns signed a lease to remain in Downtown Phoenix until at least 2037, thanks to a city council vote earlier this year to renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena. Construction has begun and should be 60 percent complete before the 2020-21 NBA season, with the second phase completed before the start of the 2021-22 season.

Higher Education

This year, Northern Arizona University reached over 400 students, University of Arizona’s Downtown Phoenix campus was granted to increase class size to 100 per year and Arizona State University broke ground on the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Public Art in the Core

Completed in the fall of 2019, “Timeless” by Clyde is a 144-foot long mural on the west-facing wall of the Renaissance Phoenix Hotel. (Photo: Mycal Kay)

Giving Meters

The Giving Meter program tapped into the talents of four local artists — Lydia Quinones, Chelsi Rossi, Terri Petersen and Paige Poppe — who each painted a re-purposed parking meter. The meters are located in four high-pedestrian areas in the Downtown Core, and are equipped to accept card and coin donations for the city’s PHX C.A.R.E.S program.

Murals

The walls of Downtown Phoenix were once again a canvas for creativity. Tempe artist Clyde brought cool blues, greens and purple tones to the west-facing wall of the Renaissance Hotel with his mural, “Timeless.”

Artists Kyllan Maney and Jayarr Steiner also collaborated on a piece on the corner of Adams and Second streets, which colorfully features the uplifting message, “you are amazing.” Stay tuned for more murals at Block 23 and 111 W. Monroe next year.

More Public Art

You may have seen this friendly giant on your feed. Inspired by the tech company surge in the area, a large metal robot sculpture by Doug Boyd of Artfully Rogue is at the corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street.

Adding to the public art portfolio of DTPHX, Artlink Inc. opened their ARTLAB in the lobby of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix, which features a working public art studio with artists in residence switching out every few weeks.

Transportation

E-scooters

A pilot program launched on Sept. 16 that brought several hundred Lime, Bird and Spin scooters to Downtown Phoenix. The City will determine if it will continue after the six-month trial ends in March 2020.

Bikes

More and more DTPHX employees, residents and visitors are choosing to get from Point A to Point B and everywhere in between on two wheels. Downtown Pedal Around and numerous other weekly/monthly group bike rides are helping to change the bike culture in downtown.

Coming soon in 2020: Downtown’s first bike commuter facility.

Events & Placemaking

Eduardo Patiño on the Downtown Phoenix Partnership Clean & Green team plants oleanders to beautify the corner of Buchanan and Third streets. (Photo: Taylor Bishop)

268 Days of Events

Yep, you read that right. Downtown brought locals and visitors from around the world with events filling more than two thirds of the days and nights of 2019 – a considerable jump from downtown happenings a decade ago.

We saw reoccurring events, like Phoenix Comic Fest and Howl-o-ween, as well as new events including Fried Festival and Phoenix Unknown.

Paw-Pup Park

Our growing downtown neighborhood needed a dog park, and the City of Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Partnership and PetSmart delivered. Thelda Williams Paw-Pup Park is on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Jefferson Street and is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hance Park Revitalization 

The Fiesta Bowl donated $2 million to build a 20,000-square-foot playground at Margaret T. Hance Park. This is the first piece of the park’s revitalization project to receive a seven-figure donation, with construction beginning in 2020.

21,731 Water Bottles Diverted 

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership Ambassador team distributed more than 2,700 gallons of water at these events. Instead of handing out water bottles, the team has a more sustainable Hydration Station – which encourages event goers to use their reusable bottles to fill up.

95 Trees Planted

You can thank the Downtown Phoenix Partnership Clean & Green Team for the much-needed shade in our city. They planted 95 trees and hundreds of other plants in 2019.

Some of these trees were salvaged from sites that will be developed, like the trees at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management.

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