Enhanced vocational training and alley beautification boosted at downtown-focused panel

A panel hosted by the Phoenix Community Alliance discussed various aspects of downtown development. (Craig Johnson/DD)

The need for expanded vocational training and alley beautification highlighted a panel on Thursday hosted by the Phoenix Community Alliance.

District 3 Councilwoman Debra Stark said that the Phoenix real estate industry is in need of construction trades such as electricians, carpenters, sheet-metal workers and plumbers. Stark is working with the City Council and city manager to create a trade school depot in the Burton Barr Central Library.

The program is aimed toward recent and future high school graduates who are not interested in going to a college or university. Stark said that later this year the Parks, Arts, Education and Equality Subcommittee will discuss the issue in depth.

“We need to really look at ways to improve students who are getting out of high school and look at potential profession in trades,” Stark said. “We need to emphasize that not everyone wants to go to college, can’t afford to go to college and there are really great alternatives out there.”

Alan Stephenson, Phoenix director of city planning and development, is working with a downtown alley study group to spruce up Phoenix’s historical alleyways. The program is geared toward the beautification of downtown alleys to make them more walkable, sustainable and appealing to pedestrians.

These plans include adding lighting, artwork and temporary seating. The main goal is to increase walkways downtown to allow easier movement.

“The future in downtown has to have a little walkability and mobility because you won’t be able to get around in cars, ” Stephenson said.

The proposal will be presented at the Oct. 5 to the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee.

Stephenson said the Community and Economic Development Department would propose a code change to the demolition permit at the Development Advisory Board meeting later that day. The code change will require applicants to put up a public notice for potentially 30 calendar days so the public can identify the historical significance of the building and discuss alternative methods with the applicant.

The Historic Preservation Commission is concerned that historically significant buildings will be demolished without the public knowing, a reaction to public outcry after demolishing of the Circles Records and Tapes building in April. The waiting period was publicized in a petition started by local activist Stacey Champion shortly after the Circles partial demolition.

Contact the reporter at Scordero@asu.edu.

Correction: September 16, 2016:

An earlier version of this story said that the demolition waiting period was first proposed in a petition started by Stacey Champion. It was not first proposed in that petition. The article has since been updated to reflect that the proposal was publicized by the petition.

Correction: October 1, 2016:

Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story included an incorrect statement from Debra Stark regarding city measures aimed at reducing development. The statement has been removed.