Vintage Partners Polishes Uptown Plaza

Image courtesy of Vintage Partners

Image courtesy of Vintage Partners

Over the past two years, Uptown Phoenix has found itself transformed.

The Newton, the rapid expansion of Upward Projects, For the People/Kream Coffee, Sauce Pizzeria, and others have joined such longstanding local gems as Fairmount Pharmacy, Practical Art, Stinkweeds, St. Francis, Frances, Cowtown Skateboards, and Arizona Hi-Fi. But the best was yet to come, with the redevelopment of the area’s geographic anchor, Uptown Plaza.

After years of beige stucco and no connection to the surrounding historic neighborhoods, the area’s first commercial hub was due for a reimagining. Enter Vintage Partners.

Though with a history of suburban commercial development projects, Vintage has of late repositioned itself through key reuse projects, acquiring underused assets, and remodeling them while preserving elements of their historic character.

Vintage Partners partner Walter Crutchfield says of reuse, “The magic is in identifying what can be done. When adaptive reuse is done right, everyone benefits – the developer, the tenants, and community – because it’s not just about changing a buildings use, it’s about restoring community connections, while also looking into the future."

Their biggest project in this vein arrived in 2014 with the opportunity of adapting Uptown Plaza, the first and still most-prominent uptown shopping center. With the locally-owned AJ’s grocery store as a lasting anchor, Vintage transformed its context, relating it to the mid- and early-20th century neighborhoods whose character has been so embraced across the city.

“We were able to find amazing treasures inside of the Uptown Plaza center when we began stripping it back – a lot more exposed brick on the interior than we ever thought," said partner David Scholl of the deconstruction process. "All of the original canopy columns that held up the canopy were all buried inside the old stucco and we were able to salvage a lot which you see at the center today. The project really was half a construction project, half an archeological project and it was fun to continue to discover the historical character that is Uptown Plaza.”

 

Image courtesy of Vintage Partners

Image courtesy of Vintage Partners

Since the remodel, Uptown has seen the arrival of such locally-owned highlights as Muse Apparel, Local Nomad, R&R Surplus, Zookz, Manor Shoes, and Flower Child, re-rooting the Plaza to place, as it was at its construction in 1955.

Partner Bobby Williams described filling the plaza as starting with "...A great restaurant lineup [beginning] with Sam Fox’s Flower Child. We have seen this restaurant become the anchor to the center and we have since concentrated on getting a mix of local, regional, and national apparel, gift, and home furnishing uses – all who are now or will be soon benefitting by the traffic created by key restaurants.”

And to add to its already-exciting tenant mix, it was recently announced that local craft brewer Huss Brewing would be adding a new taproom and retail operation, creating another “third place” for the bustling neighborhood.

Now, the Plaza represents a true neighborhood anchor; steps away from light rail, this is now a true “20-minute neighborhood,” with groceries, a pharmacy, eyeglasses, clothing, coffee, drinks, restaurants, books, records, and more all within a brief walk, and nearly all locally-owned.

“We have taken great care in trying to create a tenant mix at Uptown Plaza that will make the community a better place. We had a strong base to build upon due to the visionary restaurant concepts created at the intersection by Craig DeMarco, Lauren Bailey [both of Upward Projects], and Aaron Chamberlain [St Francis]," said Williams. "It is our hope for Uptown Plaza to be complimentary to these amazing concepts and to be an asset the Uptown neighborhood is proud to call its own.”

 

Sustainability Spotlight: Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

Are you looking for adventure, the great outdoors, and sustainability? Then Flagstaff Extreme is your answer. Located in the cool pines of northern Arizona, this Adventure Course encourages people of all ages to get outside and test their skill on a ropes course in the trees. They just added a new attraction called Adventure Zips that has over 30 zip lines. Flagstaff Extreme values environmental consciousness and incorporates sustainability into their business, setting a strong example for sustainable tourism in Flagstaff. Here are some of the great things they are doing to lessen their impact.

Reducing
When the adventure course was being built, owner Paul Kent opted to remodel an old office on the site rather than tear it down. Reusing building materials not only significantly lessens the amount of waste in landfills, but it also prevents demand for new materials to be created. Kent also minimized the impact of the building remodel by not installing carpet which also helps improve indoor air quality.

Flagstaff Extreme helps their customers reduce their impact with by offering free water refills for people who bring their own bottles. Instead of plastic bags for merchandise sales they use reusable string bags. They opt for walkie talkies that use rechargeable batteries rather than one-time use batteries. They also recognized an excess of packaging waste in shipments of carabineers they received, so they contacted the company and asked them to remove the extra packaging. 

The Flagstaff Extreme crew reduces their energy consumption through use of a Nest thermostat and Energy Star rated appliances including printers, computers and hot water heater.  To conserve water, they have low-flow toilets installed and no-watering-needed landscaping.

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Reuse and Recycling
Flagstaff Extreme has recycling bins in their office and throughout the course. When course material gets worn out, instead of heading to a landfill it gets branded and sold as unique souvenirs of the course. Additionally, they are going to start turning the old harnesses into belts and dog collars which will be for sale soon. Landscape debris, such as fallen trees, get chipped and added back to the forest floor. Hazardous and electric waste gets disposed of properly.

Hugging the Trees
Without the Ponderosa pines, there would be no adventure course so healthy trees are of utmost importance to Kent and his team. The platforms surrounding the trees were built with extra space that allows the trees to continue to grow. Flagstaff Extreme works closely with an arborist to make sure that the trees are healthy and to reduce the risk of fire.

Sustainability Philosophy
The staff at Flagstaff Extreme follows the Leave No Trace philosophy, which consists of seven core principles for enjoying the outdoors responsibly with minimal impact. Not only do they pick up any trash that they see on the course, they have also adopted mile 337 on I-17 northbound and work to make sure it is free of trash.

Flagstaff Extreme also works with other local business to support the local economy. For example, they buy their office supplies from Quality Connections, a nonprofit that employs people with disabilities, and their t-shirts come from local printers. Congrats to Flagstaff Extreme for setting a great example for sustainable businesses in Arizona! Find out more by visiting their website


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In October 2011, Tim and Marybeth Scanlon began taking their pizza to the people in their popular food truck, but a few years ago, the couple took their artisan pies the brick-and-mortar route and opened the Pizza People Pub on Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix.

The modern, bustling restaurant offers a range of beer, wine and cocktails, gluten-free and vegan options, as well as such comfort-food and pub-grub favorites as mac and cheese, wings, burgers and salads. The star of the show, however, is the pizza. Using a secret family recipe, the Scanlons make their dough from scratch, hand-toss it and bake it in stone deck ovens. No pie is built before you order it.

Enjoy the ambience and tasty fare — if you haven’t experienced Pizza People Pub, add it to your bucket list for 2017. This family-owned business supports local Arizona businesses wherever possible and is committed to sustainable, Earth-friendly practices — composting food waste and recycling 98 percent of non-food waste. To find our more, visit their website.

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