Phoenix mayor kicks off revitalization project to transform vacant lot into public space

Photos by Thomas Hawthorne

Mayor Greg Stanton kicked off a revitalization project for a 15-acre vacant lot in midtown Phoenix with excitement on Monday.

“I am super psyched about this project,” Stanton said at a press conference.

The project, called PHX Renews, is a partnership between Barron Collier Companies, the owners of the property, and Keep Phoenix Beautiful, a nonprofit, according to a press release from Stanton.

“(The project) is the nation’s largest transformation of a lot into a public space,” said Colin Tetreault, Stanton’s policy advisor and sustainability expert, at the event.

The project will transform the lot, located at northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road, into an area for urban farming, sustainable technology, outdoor education, art displays and social spaces.

Community member and artist Beverly Cook is most interested in the community gardens.

“I think it’s good for people to have gardens. They’re good for all ages and ethnicities … and they bring people together,” Cook said.

According to Sarah Crowther, director of special projects at Keep Phoenix Beautiful, community gardening was the most popular suggestion from the public. Keep Phoenix Beautiful used media sources to reach out to the public and accepted feedback through its website.

The community gardens will be more than just urban farming, said Nicky Walker, development manager with the International Rescue Committee, an organization dedicated to helping refugees resettle in their new environments. The community gardens will help with this, said Walker, because many refugees have an emotional connection to agriculture and the gardens will provide them with a place to find that connection. The gardens will also serve as education centers at which people can learn about the refugees, she said.

Phoenix resident Vincent Lopez said he thinks PHX Renews is a “fantastic operation.” Lopez said he likes that the project is forward thinking and that it will educate the youth. Lopez said he believes developing the empty lots of Phoenix will help create a more sustainable city.

Andy Izquierdo, Phoenix resident and the director of public affairs for PetSmart, said he believes the project will greatly benefit the community.

“Just the mix of activities and concepts … and the coming together of all these ideas are great for the lot,” Izquierdo said.

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