Community group gives Phoenicians a space to share ideas for empty lots, vacant buildings

Ryan Tempest and Quinn Whissen of This Could Be Phoenix Courtesy of Ryan Tempest
This Could be PHX is the brainchild of Ryan Tempest (left) and Quinn Whissen (right). They hope to improve downtown through activation of vacant lots and abandoned buildings. (Courtesy of Ryan Tempest)

This Could be PHX, a new community awareness group, is working to educate and inspire Phoenicians to make positive changes to their city by providing a platform for community members to pitch ideas to revitalize downtown’s empty lots and vacant buildings.

The group began with the desire of Phoenix residents Quinn Whissen and Ryan Tempest to see people use the vacant buildings on Second Avenue. The idea expanded into a community awareness group that works to improve all of downtown Phoenix rather than just Second Avenue.

“(Tempest) had brought up the idea of an urban awareness group, and for me, it’s mostly coming out of my love for the city,” Whissen said. “What’s different about in Phoenix is that here you can have a vision that has an impact on creating the future of the city. There’s a fighting effort to make it better.”

The nonprofit organization operates mostly through its website, Facebook page and blog, where community members can voice their ideas for urban infill and development. This Could Be PHX has also launched its “Envision Projects,” which identify a certain area of downtown Phoenix that could be developed or an amenity that downtown Phoenix lacks.

The two projects the group is currently working on are to bring a larger grocery store into the heart of downtown Phoenix and to develop the area around the Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue light rail stop. After receiving ideas from community members, Tempest, who is an architect, created a rendering of how the grocery store and the area around the light rail stop could look.

This Could be Phoenix Rendering Courtesy of Ryan Tempest
After community members pitched ideas of how to develop around the Roosevelt and Central light rail stop, Ryan Tempest, who is an architect, created renderings of the ideas. (Courtesy of Ryan Tempest)

This Could Be PHX is also inviting Phoenicians to write about their experiences in Phoenix, what changes they would like to see and how they envision the city in the future with the “My Phoenix Story” series on its blog.

Jonathan Carroll, owner of Songbird Coffee and Tea House and writer of a “My Phoenix Story” blog post, said he supports This Could Be PHX because of its passion for development and commitment to the community.

“I feel like they’re the first kind of organization that truly cares about the city of Phoenix and wants to embrace positive change,” Carroll said. “They have great ideas and want the community to share their ideas.”

For the time being, This Could Be PHX is focusing on engaging the community and sparking creative ideas, but the group hopes to have more implementation methods in the future.

“At least right now, we’re just about engagement and getting people imagining and envisioning the city that we want, because when you have passion, you have action,” Whissen said.

Tempest said This Could Be PHX is also a way to bring the community together to improve its city.

“What’s nice about being here is that you can be a part of this great energy,” he said. “Having the urge to make Phoenix better makes the community stronger.”

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