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Everything posted by colin

  1. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    I ended up with a Tucson job, but don't particularly like it. Whatever though. I probably won't be in AZ more than another year or so. My girlfriend will likely be getting a faculty job somewhere, which will move her and, frankly, I'm probably ready to go too. I like Arizona a lot, but it's time to move on. When I moved out here, I said I'd be out here for at least five years, and it's passed six now. With the lease I'm on now (we have a townhouse near Campbell/River), it'll be at least seven before I move. That'll pass up Houston for the longest I've ever lived anywhere, which will actually be nice, because Houston sucks, and I've always been a little embarrassed by that fact. Until then, I'll try to post some urban development related stuff. The news is a bit dead now, especially here in Arizona, but there is some positive stuff coming out here in Tucson. I'll have to pay more attention to Phoenix too.
  2. Thought I'd throw something in here. I'll actually be in Phoenix, for a weekend, at the end of the month, so I'll take some pics then. Daily Star article Gist of the article: CityNorth has been foreclosed upon. It was to be a 144-acre mixed-use development in the Peoria area. This probably isn't a shock to anyone, considering Phoenix's real estate scene right now, but I thought I'd post.
  3. 44 E Broadway? There was an article a few days ago that stated the property has gone into foreclosure. The office had sat for years, unused, and appeared to be unoccupied. One of several Downtown residential developments that tanked. Here it is: link, although I read a different article. This is in this current issue of the Weekly: Missing Links The article details one business owner's interaction with ADOT and the City's Downtown Links program. That program was responsible for the reconstructed Fourth Avenue underpass (which finally reopened about a month ago) and the realignment of both Sixth and Stone Avenues south of Downtown to two-way streets. Also this: Link Maynard's took the empty void of the failed Central Bistro inside of the refurbished train depot. I don't think that many people had faith in it, except that it was owned by the Hotel Congress guy, which gave it more hope. What's worked for the market is word of mouth and a weekly event that started less than a year: Meet Me at Maynard's. This is a running (or walking) event that takes place every Monday evening. It's been very successful. I know a few people who attend it regularly. Now that the underpass is back open, you should see more people not only at this event, but using the underpass to get over to Fourth Ave. I also wanted to point out a couple of my Downtown observations. If you haven't been to On a Roll yet, you should go for their happy hour. M-F, 4-6. Selected rolls are half price, draft beer is $3.50. Saturday reverse happy hour sees selected $1 nigiri and $2.50 drafts. Seriously, the best happy hour in town right now, because the sushi is actually really damn good. I'm not associated with the place, I'm just a big fan, and I'm really happy that they've managed to stay open. Of the few dance clubs that I've set foot in, Asylum was the only club that I actually liked. It went under over a year ago, but their recently and seemingly randomly sprang up a new club there. The club was not only busy, but actually had a huge line down the street waiting to get in. Lots of pretty young people looking their best, so this is not Asylum (I used to go in there in flip-flops and jeans). I don't recall the name of the club, and that was a few weeks ago, but I do wish them the best. Downtown, and especially that part of Congress, need to liven things up.
  4. I still get up to Phoenix fairly often. I know that most of the central Tempe condos and other structures were completed, but I don't think that they ended up selling very well. The Sheraton Downtown was built. I went to a concert in Downtown Phoenix in the early spring, but haven't really been back since, except while driving through (I drove through the tunnel a couple of days ago, actually, but didn't exit). I'll check it out one day soon while I'm still unemployed.
  5. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    Hi! Sorry for the long lapse in activity. No excuse for myself, but maybe it was the job that I took ended up actually keeping me busy. But I quit the job at the end of May and have been traveling since. First up to Canada and out to Newfoundland, down to Costa Rica, to DC for a few days, driving around the Great Plains, and I'm recently back from a California and Utah national parks tour. I have one more trip coming up next week that'll take me to the Midwest, but only for a week. I'm working on a new job now, but I may end up in stupid Phoenix. The market is getting better here, but it's not as easy to find a job in my field anymore. I'll try to post some stuff on Tucson development, because there are some things going on here.
  6. Got a link with renderings for the MLK Apartments revamp. It's called One North Fifth, in relation to its address. The units will be studio and one bedrooms and will range from, or so I've heard, $650 - 750 per month. http://onenorthfifth.com/ Nothing terribly exciting, but at least it's actually happening.
  7. The I-10 bypass around Tucson was dealt a blow recently: the San Pedro Valley alignment was nixed by ADOT. Of the Tucson-area corridors, this only leaves the Sandario Road alignment on the west side of the Tucson Mountains, which has a much less likely chance of actually happening than the San Pedro corridor as it abuts Saguaro National Park and the Tohono O'Odham Nation. Residents have also been fervently opposed to it in public meetings, although that should be no surprise. There's another routing which runs adjacent to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, which is regarded among many local naturalists as the holy grail of natural areas and attracts visitors from around the world. I don't think that that one has even been discussed. The question now is: where is this thing going to be built? My only guess is that they will eventually somehow route it through Safford and far away from Tucson. Otherwise, it's just not going to happen. Oh, and you can read about the whole thing on this ADOT site: http://tpd.azdot.gov/planning/i10bypass.php
  8. There has been a lot of supposed activity regarding the Post Lofts construction Downtown. The city council gave an ultimatum: start building or you lose the property. It's good to see that sort of action, and it seems to have worked as the developer is now supposedly starting construction. Briefly, it was going to have hotel rooms, which the developer insisted were necessary to make the project economically viable, but he has since changed his mind and it's back to solely condos. Info about the project is available on their site: http://www.thepostlofts.com/, and there have been numerous articles in the Arizona Daily Star over the past couple of months. I've been spending some of my afternoon at Ronstadt Transit Center Downtown waiting for the bus and have been watching the demo of the former MLK Apartments (public housing), which are being turned into private apartments. There always seem to be changes when I see it, but I never actually see any activity. Maybe they knock off at 4. I can't find any official sites on the project from the developer and have never seen any renderings. Hopefully they'll at least repaint it. The new county building on Stone at Franklin (a block which used to include the ill-fated Coconuts night club) has begun construction. It was, for many moons, held up by archaeological excavation, as the original plot was built over a 19th-century cemetery, and the bodies were apparently never moved before the original buildings were constructed. I'll start posting pics when there's something to actually look at.
  9. Quite a bit going on in the news about Downtown recently. The streetcar tracks down Congress in front of the Hotel Congress are down (although there's no concrete) and the Fourth Avenue underpass is cleared for now. The old MLK apartments, which were public housing but are being redeveloped into private apartments and condos, are actually seeing some demo and other work. I'll take pics of this stuff when I get a chance. There was also some drama with the Casablanca restaurant, which served over-priced Mediterranean in an old mansion at Franklin and Stone, as it was recently locked up by the owner for failure to pay taxes, as a condition of the lease (they had free rent). The owner blames Downtown construction for the "90% drop in business," but both the Tucson Weekly and Daily Star gave the place negative reviews soon after opening, and most people I work with Downtown had gone and had issues with it. Personally, I didn't think that it would survive just because of the prices (Downtown does not need another high-end restaurant at this point) and the service level. They also seemed to never really get their sh*t together. I went in once and asked if they did happy hour and the reply was that they were planning on it, although it never really happened. The sad part of the story is that the tiny Latin-Up Cafe, owned by former Irene's owners, in the same building was also locked up as a result, preventing the owners from not only operating but also retrieving several thousand dollars in equipment. That place has not re-opened either, which is a shame because it sounded good and I never got the chance to try it. Also an article in last week's Tucson Weekly regarding plans to remodel the Downtown train depot's lobby. Central Bistro, the failed experiment inside the depot, could not survive even with the free rent and closed fairly recently (although the sign is still up), and now Hotel Congress plans to establish a market at the site.
  10. There have been a few minor things in Tucson's news regarding development over the past few months, but nothing big enough to get excited about. This is a new project though: Downtown church's Sunday school to become condos And since the Star are now jerks and make you log in sometimes:
  11. Sunset on New Year's Day in Glendora, CA just above the 210 freeway.
  12. Two firms might link up on Rio Nuevo work This is in reference to an article I posted in this thread a while ago ("W. Side project..."). I don't know about this cooperative effort. The Portland people need to get moving on MLK: what an f'in eyesore! Bad enough that it's butt-ugly, but now it's all gated off and gutted.
  13. I'd like to see one public meeting regarding growth, planning or development here that does not mention Phoenix. Seriously. I understand that you need to benchmark something, but Phoenix always gets hammered in these things. This is good news, as the county has always been slightly more open to developers than the city, and the sort of stupid, tract housing sprawl that embodies it was able to exist by just building outside the city limits. Now we just need to get our surrounding counties on board (look at you, Pinal County).
  14. The football team is really weird and totally unpredictable. I wasn't even paying attention to it until I asked my friend if they had won and, to my surprise, she said yes. Of course, I was also surprised when they won the last game against UCLA. Maybe it's only when I don't pay attention to them that they win. This Thursday game caused unbelievable issues though. Most of the parking lots remotely close to the stadium were shut off to valid permit holders for the entire day, enforced by citations and towing. UA President Robert Shelton sent out a campus-wide email asking staff to leave at 3, but also said that they would have to use vacation or sick time to make it up. He also did not cancel classes around the time of the game. It bothers me that there was all of this disruption, not really for the game parking itself, but for the f'in tailgating parties, which makes Parking & Transportation Services (my former employer, btw) tons of money since those passes go for $100 or so even in the outlying lots away from the Mall.
  15. This has been coming for a long time, but it's quite a blow to the residential side of Rio Nuevo. City breaks deal with Downtown condo developer The question now is: what will happen to the property? My prediction is that it will be redeveloped as a mixed-use site, but not with the height or density that was seen in this proposal.
  16. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    Plaza Liquors area but actually a little north, near Campbell and Blacklidge. There are tons of restaurants right across the street. I've walked over to Albertson's three times already and Old Chicago once. Went to the pho place near Glenn last night (which is awesome, btw). I agree completely about the vibe though and that's one of the reasons why I like it. There is a surprising amount of ped traffic in that area but the sidewalks are unfortunately sparse. It's a fairly easy corridor to walk around on though. There was the idea of Walgreens taking over at least part of Catalina at one point, but I think that idea is dead as dead. Theaters are so difficult to reuse that I doubt anything will occur without demolition. It's a difficult intersection also because of that right turn lane and the amount of traffic it gets. At one time, there was a proposal to sink Campbell and create an underpass/exit situation, but that died quickly mostly due to the pseudo-rich folks in adjacent Catalina Vista.
  17. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    Well, I can add something. I moved again. This time to the bustling, restaurant-lined North Campbell Avenue. It's extremely convenient, the apartment's nice and it's on an express bus route. I've been walking a lot since moving in. I'll have pictures from the area pretty soon.
  18. The Daily Star has been picking on Tucson's poorly planned suburbs very recently, in particular (and deservingly so), Sahuarita. Towns learned hard way: Lack of early planning hurt Sahuarita residents miss city amenities The latter preaches the same old sprawl saga: let's move out to the suburbs to get away from the city... uh-oh, what happened to the supermarket and restaurants down the street? The problem here is the haphazard manner in which this sort of development is executed: building only to meet needs usually involves little, if any, planning.
  19. Route 3. It runs east down 6th and 5th and eventually to PCC East. It also heads west out of Downtown up Granada and west of Saint Mary's/Anklam to PCC West. In the morning it's very convenient. Buses run almost like clockwork and about every 15 minutes. The closer you get to Downtown, the easier it is to get around by bus. Once you start having to transfer, that's when SunTran's system falls on its face. The RTA is supposed to invest money in the bus system. Several new express routes and added buses to existing lines. http://newwebsite.pagnet.org/documents/RTP...ptember2006.pdf (page 39) http://newwebsite.pagnet.org/documents/RTP...istsAmended.pdf (page 40)
  20. City gives developer 30-day deadline I was really excited about this project, but its death has been inevitable since the condo market started crashing almost a year ago. This was one of the more promising projects Downtown as it was to offer a large retail space and several well-designed condos all in a LEED-certified building. Peggy Noonan is also actually a really nice lady, and I feel bad for her that she has to deal with press like this and flack from the City. But it's better than sitting on a dirt lot for another few years, since the parking lot has been pretty ripped up by excavations.
  21. Since no posts for a while: I-10 on the way to Phoenix last month: Also, outside my window one day:
  22. City refuses $100,000-plus grant for security cameras Downtown I posted something about this a long time ago, but I guess it just recently came up in Council. The proposal would have set up cameras a la Big Brother to monitor illegal activity on Downtown streets. There is already quite a bit of implementation of this in the UK and it's been very effective for cutting down, if not outright preventing, crime. I think it's a great idea, but I can understand why the city would be hesitant. American society is so full of conspiracy theorists and borderline paranoid schizophrenics that this is just asking for a lawsuit. I'd like to see an American city do this, but Tucson certainly isn't proactive enough to be the pioneer.
  23. I don't know if it was on this thread or not, but I had gone off on this fairly recently. Ernesto always seems to be able to be parse through the BS and tap the vane of the community. That's why he's got the front page editorial spot though as well as various other media gigs in town. Ernesto Portillo Jr.: Portland trumpeted; no fanfare for Tucson
  24. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    I just had to post this because it's so ridiculous. Especially that it actually needed an "UPDATE." UPDATE: Cardboard Geico caveman caper unsolved Quote of the year:
  25. colin

    Arizona off-topic

    BURN!! BURN!! Soapbox is okay. As long as it's not some rant or, worse, drunken rant (not that I ever do that). Just gotta keep your head on your shoulders.
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