10 Downtown Things to Look Forward to in 2017

by Fara Illich
Arts & Culture Bars & Nightlife Business Development Community Commentary Featured Music & Events Travel, Shopping & Leisure Fara Illich January 6, 2017

This is going to be a good year. We can feel it. From new shade trees and murals to highly-anticipated restaurant openings and the return of our favorite events — the forecast for 2017 is sunny with a chance of awesome.

ALAC Mural

Photo: Lauren Potter

ALAC Mural, Alley of the Arts – Completed January

Club owner Pete Salaz and local artist Carlos Rivas got the ball rolling several years ago with some colorful murals on the backside of Bar Smith and Monarch Theatre. About a year ago, the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center (ALAC) followed suit, recently completing a massive tribute to Latino icons on the opposite side of the alley. It’s kind of gritty and smelly back there — but the beauty, color and culture make it all worthwhile. Read more.


Photo: Fara Illich

Art Detour – Coming March 16-19

Beginning nearly 30 years ago, this annual art event usually takes over galleries and businesses along Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue. But this year, you can expect more of a presence in the Downtown Core, along with larger installations and more interactivity. Read more.


Photo: Brandi Porter

Cornish Pasty Co. – Opening TBD

It’s been three years in the making, with plenty of false starts and bumps in the road, but we’re hopeful (fingers crossed) that downtown’s Cornish Pasty Co. will open in 2017. Construction crews are actively working inside, air conditioning units have been installed and the interior is looking gorgeous. Read more.


Photo: Brandi Porter

Downtown Tree Plantings

Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) made a commitment last year to increase walkability and improve the sidewalk experience. In 2017, you can expect to see more than 100 shade trees going into downtown tree wells and planters – courtesy of the DPI Streetscape Team. Come summer, we’ll be singing their praises. Read more.


Photo: Clarendon Hotel

Gallo Blanco – Opening spring

Since closing its location at the Clarendon Hotel in 2015, we’ve been longing for those delicious tacos and specialty cocktails. Fortunately, chef Doug Robson will reopen Gallo Blanco in a historic building on the northwest corner of Tenth and Pierce streets in the Garfield neighborhood. Read more.


Photo: The Park Street Food Bar & Beer Garden

The Park Street Food Bar & Beer Garden – Opening soon

Okay, so they originally told us they’d be open in October, which was obviously not the case. But all will be forgiven once this street-food-meets-beer-garden concept opens in Collier Center hopefully very soon. Partnerships with Maine Event Lobster, Paz Cantina Taqueria, Mary Coyle Ol’ Fashion Ice Cream, Pedal Haus Brewery (and many more) have already been announced. Read more.


Rendering: Portland on the Park

Portland on the Park – Opening soon

When Portland on the Park broke ground in 2014, we knew it was going to be something special. Commercial space on the ground floor for restaurants and coffee shops, bike storage, top-notch construction, a resort-style pool and unparalleled views of Margaret T. Hance Park make for a pretty swanky living arrangement. Not to mention its prime location, which is walking distance to literally everything. Read more.


Rendering: The Van Buren

The Van Buren – Opening spring

At the tail end of 2016, the folks behind Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar started remodeling a 20,000-square-foot historic building on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Van Buren Street, and we can’t wait to see the results. The 1,800-person capacity concert venue, recently named “The Van Buren,” pumps some much-needed energy, music and nightlife into an otherwise sleepy stretch of downtown. Read more.


Photo: Nader Abushhab

Viva PHX – Coming March 11

Rapidly becoming one of downtown’s most beloved events, Viva PHX is expected to bring in about 100 artists across 20 venues. The whole Downtown Core becomes a kind of festival footprint, and this year, you can expect more art, activation and music along the way. A new stage will be added at Comerica Theatre, which will increase the number of acts performing, but not the cost. Read more.

Wine Walk

Photo: Fara Illich

Wine Walk – Coming May 6

The best way to discover new wines, meet friends and explore downtown is Urban Wine Walk. And this year, Downtown Phoenix Inc. is pulling out all the stops. In addition to your old favorites, you’ll find brand new restaurants and bars to sample, in addition to a jazz festival and wine garden component at the Herberger Theater. Stay tuned for details.