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Construction in downtown Phoenix means interest in area grows

Multiple construction projects are underway and city leaders are thrilled.

PHOENIX — Go anywhere in downtown Phoenix and you’ll probably notice the copious amounts of construction taking place.

“I think what’s so important about downtown Phoenix is it’s really livable,” said Director of Community and Economic Development Christine Mackay. “Once down here and you park your car it’s this really walkable, great urban environment. You can walk to a wine bar, restaurants, I see people walking their dogs. Downtown has become this great destination location for people who want a more urban, walkable, living environment.”

About 10 years ago, in 2014, the city found about 10,000 people were living downtown. They also found about 58,000 people would work in the area each day and many would leave by 5 p.m. So they did what they could to try and keep more people downtown.

“Downtown is the heart of the community,” Mackay said. “And I would argue the way a downtown goes in its success because we’ve seen that in areas where downtowns fell into disrepair and it drug the rest of the city with them. And so, keeping a vibrant, revitalized, hip and cool but urban downtown for everybody is really important not only to downtown but the entire surrounding metro Phoenix area.”

Of course, all the growth means a lot of construction. Projects include building about 2,500 high-density residential units with another 4,000 in planning and development. The light rail expansion project is underway as well as other roadwork, sidewalk, water and sewer line improvement projects.

“Let’s hope we never see that end because that means development in downtown Phoenix has slowed,” Mackay said. “While we often will be walking someplace in downtown Phoenix I think it’s funny to make the comment of who allowed this road to be closed and who let this development to happen? We’re moving so forward we’re becoming this urban city. Until the last decade downtown Phoenix had been kind of a suburban urban environment and today it’s really turned into a true urban environment people recognize.”

So much so, that it’s bringing retailers back who initially showed interest in the 80s and 90s but never followed through. It’s also brought more people. Today about 24,500 people live in downtown Phoenix, and it’s projected by 2030, there’ll be about 30,000. Even with the growth city leaders say there’s no stopping in sight.

“We’re not done with our growth in downtown Phoenix,” Mackay said. “I would say we’re reaching 2/3 of our buildout in the downtown area and we still have a lot of land and density to go. In 2014 we had to drag people kicking and screaming to respond to any of our projects downtown but in 2018 people realized something new was happening and they wanted to be a part of it.”

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