by Emily Gersema – May. 22, 2011
The Arizona Republic
It’s been about a year since the first tenant opened in downtown development CityScape, and if all goes as planned, RED Development expects its 1.8 million-square-foot office and retail project to be completely leased by this fall.
Gold’s Gym was the first business to move into the development that is bounded by First Street and First Avenue and by Washington and Jefferson streets. It was followed by a series of monthly openings by stores such as CVS/pharmacy, entertainment venues such as Lucky Strike Lanes, and new offices for five Phoenix law firms.
About a half-dozen other retailers, restaurants and bars are expected to open by September. To name some: Oakville Grocery, Breakfast Club, Chipotle, Strand, Silk Sushi and Tilted Kilt.
UnitedHealthcare also will move in this summer, consolidating about 600 workers from other Phoenix offices into about 107,000 square feet of space at CityScape’s office tower.
A sixth law firm, Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck, will move about 15 workers into CityScape sometime in late July.
Marty Shultz is the law firm’s senior policy director in the Phoenix office and chairman of the Phoenix Community Alliance, a non-profit organization made up of business and non-profit officials who have largely supported CityScape.
Shultz is credited with persuading the firm to become a tenant.
“It’s very strategically located,” he said. “You’ve got City Hall downtown, you’ve got the courts, and you’ve got the state Capitol down the street. It’s also near the (Metro) light rail and next to major streets.”
City officials estimate that 83,000 people work in downtown offices. RED Development’s development manager Jeff Moloznik said, “A lot of our tenants have found a way to make their base around the workday traffic.”
Those tenants include Arrogant Butcher, Vitamin T and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where lines are often long as downtown workers take their lunch breaks.
However, Moloznik said there is a lot of activity on the weekend as people come to CityScape for entertainment.
“Stand Up Live drew 2,200 people on the first Friday and Saturday it was open,” he said of the comedy theater.
Tenants also hope to tap the new student crowd that will come when Phoenix School of Law moves into the Tower at One North Central near Washington Street and Central Avenue. An estimated 700 to 1,000 students will be taking classes there.
Mayor Phil Gordon and other downtown business leaders have said CityScape was a much-needed development, rejuvenating the area and providing a place where visitors and office employees can work, shop, eat and be entertained.
But some residents in downtown neighborhoods feel the development has missed the mark.
Sean Sweat, who lives in the St. Croix Villas near Fillmore and Second streets, said CityScape is a suburban building in an urban setting.
“Its design is not intuitive enough for pedestrian exploration,” said Sweat, who has studied transportation and urban issues.
That’s because on one side, the building “turns its back to the street” in some spots, he said. For a new visitor, it’s unclear where he or she can find a door to enter the shops and eateries, Sweat said.
Stacey Champion, another downtown resident, agreed.
“CityScape was not designed or built with the locals in mind and doesn’t lend itself to a being an interesting destination where you’d want to spend any real amount of time,” Champion said. “And even the (Patriots) square . . . lacks any sort of warmth, shade or substance to make it interesting.”