A Phoenix organization focused on community development has agreed to give $5,000 to a group of residents and business owners along 32nd Street to pay for expert advice on the area’s potential revitalization.
The eight-member, non-profit Phoenix Industrial Development Authority agreed unanimously Thursday to provide the money for the informal 32nd Street coalition to hire an expert with the non-profit Urban Land Institute, which specializes in researching land use and development issues.
Phoenix IDA Executive Director Juan Salgado told the board he had reached out to Councilman Bill Gates, who has been working with the group.
Gates’ aide, Jessica Amend, told the Phoenix IDA board on Wednesday that a small sum to cover the cost of hiring an Urban Land Institute expert would help the 32nd Street group identify what projects — such as bike lanes or landscaping — or events they could develop to draw new businesses, residents and shoppers to the area.
Gates represents Phoenix District 3, which is bordered by Bell Road, Northern Avenue, Interstate 17 and 64th Street.
Since 2010, the 32nd Street group has discussed ways improve the languishing business and residential area along the street from Union Hills Drive to near Shea Boulevard. This summer, the group’s momentum slowed when city officials said its idea for holding a festival along a six-mile corridor to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve west of the street would overwhelm trails.
The group also learned from Arizona Public Service that any effort to bury the power lines along the 32nd Street area would come at a high price — at least $17 million.
Business owners and residents along 32nd Street noticed that several strip malls and businesses began to empty in 2005, after Vestar built Desert Ridge Marketplace near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard. The recession compounded the rise in vacancies.
The group is expected to resume meeting in September.