After spending two weeks in Phoenix, I'm tempted to conclude that the central city is undergoing its most robust efflorescence in decades. And it is happening below the "red line" of Camelback Road.
This is not based on any single project — the Central Station tower and new arena for the Suns and perhaps Coyotes may or may not happen. Rather, dozens of smaller projects, mostly residential, are completed, under construction or in advanced site work or planning. Lots that have sat vacant for decades are seeing construction. Buildings are being restored — one example is the nice job the Old Spaghetti Factory did with its two former mansions on Central.
Commerce is happening, albeit on a mostly small scale, with startups and a few companies moving jobs into downtown, Midtown and Uptown. The restaurant scene is booming. We're far beyond the days when we struggled to keep Durant's, My Florist, Portland's and Cheuvront in business. Traffic is busy on Central again; more important, so is pedestrian and bicycle activity. Outside the core but in the old city many shopping strips have been given new looks.
This is small potatoes for what should be happening in the core of one of the nation's largest cities. Seattle has about a hundred major projects recently completed or underway, many of them highrises. The skyline is being dramatically remade. But considering the damage done to Phoenix over many decades of civic malpractice, it is verging on a spectacular rebirth.