Downtown Devil Discussion panel focuses on future of downtown Phoenix


Photos by Evie Carpenter

ASU’s growth downtown and the need to increase involvement and support within the community were addressed in the semester’s final Downtown Devil Discussion on Tuesday night.

The discussion, which focused on the future of ASU’s Downtown campus and its partnerships with the downtown Phoenix community, included four panelists: campus Vice Provost Christopher Callahan, Downtown Phoenix Partnership President David Roderique, architect and blogger Taz Loomans and student government Local Affairs Director Michael Homan.

Downtown Devil Discussions is a monthly series that targets issues that affect downtown students and the surrounding community.

Callahan said students should integrate themselves into the community by taking advantage of what downtown Phoenix has to offer, from local restaurants to the vibrant art community.

“Things like world-class museums, artist galleries, independent restaurants and cafes, you don’t have that in Tempe,” Callahan said. “We’re intertwined with downtown Phoenix.”

Student government Director of Public Relations Danielle Chavez, attended the discussion and said she agreed with Callahan.

“I love the Downtown Phoenix campus,” she said. “It has a very special place in my heart.”

Chavez has lived at the Downtown campus for three years and said it has expanded significantly since her freshman year.

Roderique said the campus has become more important economically to the area.

“ASU has been one of the most important drivers in the downtown Phoenix community and the city,” he said.

Roderique said the City of Phoenix has spent close to a billion dollars with all of the downtown projects, including the ASU campus, US Airways Center, an expanded convention center and CityScape. However, what the city needs to focus on now is keeping people downtown, he said.

“We need more bodies downtown and that’s our number one job today, to track more residents and get more people living there,” Roderique said.

He added that the impact of ASU’s popularity increase is a critical component in making Phoenix a vibrant community.

“Its not just a matter of getting more students here, it’s a matter of getting students integrated,” Loomans said.

Loomans encouraged student support at small, local businesses to make a commitment to open their arms to the community at large.

Homan suggested a group effort with the help of local businesses during Welcome Week, when students learn about the downtown area at the beginning of each school year.

“If we want to quickly change the impact of something, it should not be in the hands of an individual,” Homan said. “It should definitely be a group effort.”

Journalism junior Pedro Silva attended the discussion and said he looked forward to hearing Callahan speak. He said the discussion provided insight to the community’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Phoenix and the Downtown campus have already massed such a solid following that there’s only room for growth and improvement,” he said.

Callahan said the discussion itself was illustrative of what makes Phoenix special.

“I’ve never been invited by a group of students to talk with community leaders about community issues,” Callahan said. “I find that remarkable and it is vital.”

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  1. What no one seems to address is that college students are, for the most part, transient residents. So to work as a viable downtown, students, the university, and those of us who live, work, and play downtown,need to accept that the world does not revolve around the university. The university is just one part/element of the whole. I felt that even Roderique does not get it. DPP has been so caught up in bringing business & development downtown, and some of it is really bad in my opinion, that I look forward to perhaps some new direction for DPP (even the new mayor believes that is necessary).

    So my challenge to the students in attendance last evening plus your other classmates which is a modification of what was suggested last night, is yes…get out, walk around, look, investigate, but for heaven sakes, talk to the people who are here ALL THE TIME. You will learn even more than what you would ever learn in the classroom. Besides, you can walk, take the city bus (trust me it is very safe and an experience as well as an education at times), and volunteer which will broaden your horizons immensely.