Archive for the ‘Spotlight’ Category

Urban Cantina Brings Latin Food and Music to Downtown

Thursday, April 17th, 2014


Though Downtown mourned the loss of Squash Blossom last month, the space still bustles with energy and music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night thanks to Latin lounge, La Flor de Calabaza.

Opened in November last year, the restaurant was under different ownership than Squash Blossom from day one, sharing the space during evening hours to bring some much needed Latin fare and flair to the Downtown nightlife.

Co-owner David Moreno said the “urban cantina” is still open for business and doesn’t plan on going any where anytime soon. Instead, this may become the next go-to breakfast and lunch joint.

The plan is to extend the hours and menu to be open for breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner, Moreno said. Though nothing is set in concrete, Moreno dropped a few hints: Expect to find tortas and wraps on the lunch menu and pozole, menudo and traditional breakfast items in the morning.

Tucked behind Pomo Pizzeria on First and McKinley streets, La Flor de Calabaza hosts karaoke on Thursdays, flamenco nights at various times throughout the month, First Friday art showings and more. And with happy hour all night long on Thursdays and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on both Fridays and Saturdays, there’s no reason not to stop by and check out one of the newest additions to Downtown.

La Flor de Calabaza is currently open Thursday through Saturday
from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (with extended hours coming soon!)

Design Our Directory and Dining Guide Cover

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

colored-pencilsCall for local art submissions:

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership seeks to commission a local artist to create the cover artwork for its upcoming 2014 July-December Downtown Phoenix Directory and Dining Guide.

90,000 copies of the Directory are distributed during a 6 month period. This is the second edition of an artist designed cover.

The brochure-sized cover should capture the spirit of Downtown Phoenix’s diversity and vibrancy while paying tribute to the urban landscape.

For more information about the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, visit


- Once commissioned, the artist will be required to complete the job to satisfaction by June 2, 2014.

- All two-dimensional media will be considered, however, the final product must be able to be used in a graphic design program (high quality photographs and scanned images are acceptable).

- The cover will be rectangular, 4 x 9 inches and printed on gloss paper.

- Submissions from outside the greater Phoenix area will not be considered.

- One-time payment of $1000.

- The Downtown Phoenix Partnership will retain all usage rights and may re-use the image for other promotional purposes.

- All applicants must be 18 and older.

Requirements for Submission:

1.  A 350-word proposal detailing your plans for the cover artwork in either .pdf or .doc format.

2. Link to online portfolio or minimum of 5 images in .jpg or .pdf format.

- If submitting 5 images, please include an image list with title, year of creation, dimensions and medium in .pdf or word .doc file format.

3. Please provide contact information, including a phone number and email address.

Deadline for application: April 30, 2014.

How to apply: Email, subject line: 2014 DOWNTOWN DIRECTORY COVER

Help Design a New Parklet at The SPACE_BETWEEN

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


Could you be the next great urban planner? Let’s find out.

Join us Wednesday, April 9 at The SPACE_BETWEEN as we envision creative ways to activate the vacant lot between Valley Youth Theater and Taylor Place Student Housing.

This temporary vacant lot activation project, part of Phoenix Urban Design Week, will bring a new community space to Downtown in the shape of a backyard patio where residents, visitors, downtown employees and students can play, relax and commune. Join us and offer your suggestions for the space – a team of designers will be on hand to translate your vision into a site plan that the Downtown Phoenix Partnership will then implement.


Explore these examples of temporary vacant lot activation projects around Downtown:

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

Outside of Fair Trade Cafe at Civic Space Park



Artist Made Planters

Public Art pots at Renaissance

Created by Jeff Slim and Ave Chee, these planters are located along Central Avenue outside of Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Photo by Jeff Slim.



Shade Trees, Grass & Public Art Projects

The Lot

“The Lot: What Should Go Here?” at Second and Roosevelt streets



Art Boards

Before I Die board

East side of First Street just south of Garfield Street (813 N. First Street)



Community Gardens

Community Garden

Roosevelt Growhouse on Sixth and Garfield streets



Temporary Pop-up Shops

Songbird popup

South side of Roosevelt Street just west of Fifth Street



Sustainable Initiatives

Goode Garden

G3 Demo Garden at Calvin C. Goode building (251 W. Washington Street)



Pop-Up Parks & Games

Pop Up Park

Downtown Phoenix Partnership Pop-Up Park at CityScape



Park(ing) Day Games, Music & More

Parking Day

The global event that turns metered parking spaces into mini parks, September 20 in 2013. South side of Washington Street between First and Second avenues



Shipping Container Projects

Hot Box Gallery

North side of Roosevelt Street just west of Fifth Street (408 E. Roosevelt Street)


Opening Day at Arizona Center

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Continuing our community building theme of Springing Into Action, let’s not forget about the group of fellas that bring 2 million people Downtown every year.

Arizona Center restaurants will be handing out free hot dogs beginning Monday at 2:30

Yup, spring also means the start of the Major League Baseball season and our future NL West champs will open their 17th season (!!!) in Downtown Phoenix on Monday against the division rival San Francisco Giants. Fans can rally behind their favorite team while celebrating this potential National Holiday in grand style by joining Arizona Center for a day-long tailgate.

Oh, did we mention free hot dogs?

That’s right, Arizona Center restaurants will be serving up a wide variety of the ballpark grub staple–from Sonoran style and Greek to the more traditional mustard and relish variety–to fans who can soak up the spring sunshine and play at the Pop-Up Park while counting down to the 6:40 p.m. first pitch at Chase Field. Here’s a timeline of Monday’s Opening Day fun:

11:30 – Pop-Up Park opens

2:30 Arizona Center restaurants begin hot dog service (while supplies last)

3:30 to Midnight FREE baseball fan parking in the Arizona Center garage

(This event is benefiting the 100 Club of Arizona so while you’re plowing through your second toppings heavy hot dog please don’t forget to make a donation that matches your appetite.)

New Downtown Instagram Series Launches This Weekend

Monday, March 17th, 2014


Love Instagram? Let’s put those filtering skills to good use.

Some of the best photos of the Urban Core come from Instagram, and it’s time the Downtown community shared them under one hashtag.

Help tell the Downtown story and share moments with your community by looking for a new hashtag each weekend under Project: Downtown Phoenix Stories.

Project: Downtown Phoenix Stories is a Downtown Phoenix Instagram series in which the best photos taken of Downtown using the designated weekend hashtag will be featured the following week on our blog.

Here’s how to participate:

Follow us at @downtownphoenix and look out for a new weekly weekend hashtag every Friday.

This weekend’s hashtag (March 21 – 23) will be #DTPHXsunnyday. The objective is to Instagram a photo that was taken outside while you were enjoying a sunny day in Downtown Phoenix.

Happy hashtagging!

Pie Fight for Peace Coming to Downtown

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Peace Pi First Fling

Imagine an event that joins color, pie, beer and a staggering 70,000 watts of music all into a worldwide celebration of peace and joy.

The Peace Pi Festival will do exactly that this Saturday, March 15, inspiring peace with the world’s largest pie fight at Walter Studios, which recently opened on Seventh Avenue and Roosevelt Street.

The event features appearances by Walter the Bus, Kalliope and Big Red—a trio of refurbished vehicles and trailers called the Walter Project, which combined create the ultimate, synchronized music and light show.

Along with the pie fight and beat-dropping entertainment, the event features a beer garden by Angel Trumpet Ale House, live performances, a kid’s zone and more.

Guests are encouraged to dress festively or wear white for the party, which is sure to be one colorful mess thanks to six different colored pies, each representative of a different cause.

How does a pie fight inspire peace and what does it have to do with pi? I met with the man behind the Pi, founder Robert Farthing, to ask.

The idea for a simple pie fight came to Farthing in a dream, he said, and as he began to get feedback from the community, the idea transformed to include a variety of peace giving elements.

The Walter Project is one of those elements. In 2009, Walter the Bus was created under the 10 principles of Burning Man, a weeklong event wherein attendees dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. After its month-long excursion north, Walter the Bus came back to Phoenix and was joined by Kalliope and Big Red.

“The Walter Project is an organic project with no mission statement and that’s by design,” said Ryan Tucknott, general manager of the project, “because it allows the project to grow and embrace new ideas.”

Walter the Bus is on record as the world’s largest VW bus; Kalliope is a massive old trailer that was modified and outfitted with a high-end stereo system and light show; and Big Red is a VW bug that joined the act when Walter the Bus blew its engine and needed some replacement parts.

Together, the three bring happiness and peace wherever they go, which includes special appearances at Burning Man, Tempe block parties and even elementary schools.

“If you stand and watch the people, they are awed by (Walter the Bus, Kalliope and Big Red),” Farthing said. “You can just see their whole brain and soul expand.”

It’s difficult to put the Walter Project experience into words, but you can get a taste of the novelty that is Kalliope from this video:


Hosting the event on Pi weekend began as a coincidence, but Farthing said the more he thought about it, the more he realized that pi is a mystical number that can’t be solved, just like peace is something we can’t seem to solve.

Farthing hopes that Peace Pi Festival will promote constant, random acts of goodwill whether that’s through hosting a pie fight, baking pie and sharing with friends, creating art or whatever you can think of–so long as its in the name of peace.

This year is just the beginning. Farthing said next year will be the ultimate pi day, eerily dated March 14, 2015–or 3.1415. He said the vision for 2015 is to have a huge music festival in Phoenix with Peace Pi related events taking place all over the world.

The Peace Pi Festival is this Saturday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Walter Studios (834 N. Seventh Avenue). Admission is $10 and includes two pies for the pie fight.

New Downtown Podcast Shines Lights On Urban Topics

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Downtown Phoenix Podcast

The Downtown Phoenix Podcast, which aims to spur action by connecting people and ideas, launched its first episode on Monday with a conversation about the future of Downtown.

Urban enthusiast and podcast managing editor, Edward Jensen, sat down with David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., (DPI) to discuss how DPI will shape the growth and future of Downtown Phoenix.

“If we’ve done one thing in the first eight or nine months of our operation,” Krietor says, it is to show that it’s an organization in which “everybody can work collaboratively on advancing the Downtown cause.”

One of the main talking points was Super Bowl XLIX and how DPI is partnering with the City of Phoenix and other organizations to prepare for the Valley-hosted game and festivities.

Overall, Krietor believes 2014 is going to be a big year for Downtown saying, “(It) is going to emerge as the most interesting, eclectic and vibrant element of the whole region.” He added, “It’s going to be an incredibly neat place, and it’s going to attract interesting people.”

You can listen to the full podcast here.

Editor’s note: This podcast is taped in the Downtown Phoenix Studios, an open community studio available to the public during business hours. If you are interested in taping your podcast in the community studio, please email

Top 5 Viral Videos Depicting Downtown

Thursday, February 27th, 2014


Have you seen all the Academy Award nominated films? No? Me either.

But I have seen these videos of Downtown Phoenix, which went viral in 2013 —videos that depict everyday life in Downtown or simply celebrate its urban finesse.

Best Time Lapse of a Mural
Featured Artist Justin Queal Time Lapse Mural by Local Revibe

Most Melodic Tune
Downtown Phoenix Time Lapse by BASIX Media

Best Encapsulates Everyday Urban Life
Under the Sun by Jenkins Film Work

Most Angle Coverage
welcome to PHOENIX by Ryan Nelson

Trippiest Use of Neon Lights
Phoenix, Arizona Time Lapse by Lamp Left Media

And if you’re in the mood for a good laugh, you’ll want to watch this video, which wins the award for most creative use of the light rail (skip to 00:41 for the good part).

Did we miss one? Share your favorite video of Downtown Phoenix in the comments below.

New Website Connects Tourists to the Local Downtown Scene

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


A new website quietly launched Feb. 9 night that aims to connect tourists to local businesses and events in Downtown Phoenix.

Daniel Zayas founded the start-up project,, in hopes that it would drive tourism, which he said could be the answer to many issues regarding historic preservation and development in the Urban Core.

He said the site was inspired by his other project,, which contains a variety of housing options but is focused on Downtown.

His new project is hyper-local as well, featuring events, guides to the city and walking tours that showcase the historic architecture and urban character of Downtown Phoenix.

The city guides and walking tours will be crafted by locals and local businesses using pop culture references. Since launching the site, Zayas has only published one of these tours and it isn’t just a simple walk around the town. The references may seem small for fans of “Doctor Who,” but it makes for a fun, interactive way to show visitors what Downtown has to offer.

Zayas mentioned a passion for historical buildings, walkability, local businesses and visitor experience, and his hope that the tours will turn historic buildings and small businesses into cultural destinations.

“I’m trying to add context to what we care about,” he said. “If every tour location on the site has a… cultural reference…it helps to preserve them.”

Even though the site has technically launched, much of the content has yet to be placed. Zayas said he’ll be filling in the gaps over the coming days and weeks.

Zayas, who’s lived in Downtown for four years, said he will manage the events aggregation tool, which automatically combines multiple events sites, such as and He also said that the site will feature articles and lists of restaurants, bars and more.

“I really hope it’ll turn into a community project,” Zayas said. He wants community members to contribute articles that promote their favorite places and parts of Downtown, he said.

*Photos courtesy of Daniel Zayas

Birthday Bash Coming to Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Renaissance Birthday Bash

It’s hard to believe but the Renaissance Downtown Phoenix Hotel is already two years old, and they’re celebrating with a birthday bash for the books.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, Renaissance will host a free party so large it’s spilling onto Adams Street. Joining them for the festivities is Dave Damiani and The No Vacancy Orchestra for a night full of live entertainment, good eats, a pop-up art gallery and a silent auction. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a party without signature sips from Absolut, Deschutes Brewery and Grand Canyon Winery, and an enticing “adult” hot chocolate bar.

The Second Annual Birthday Bash will also feature casino games and a silent auction to benefit the local, non-profit O’Connor House that works to solve important social, economic and political problems through civil talk leading to civil action.

So free up your schedule and don’t miss the best birthday party of the year next Saturday at the Renaissance. The event is free to attend and 21 and up.