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Phoenix Aims for Walkable Downtown

Through a new streetscape initiative and continued focus on events and retail development (like Nook Café pictured), Downtown Phoenix Inc. aims to create a pleasant, more walkable sidewalk experience. Credit: Nader Abushhab/

By Fara Illich for

The sound of the wind rustling in the trees, a waft of something delicious, the clink of glasses, a smile from a stranger — all of these micro-experiences knit together a larger picture that helps define the culture of a city, what people think about it, what they remember, and what they love.

That’s why improving the sidewalk experience is just one of many steps Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) is taking toward cultivating a better downtown.

“The number one thing about any great downtown is that it’s walkable,” said Dan Klocke, executive director of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, an affiliate of DPI. “Through events, through streetscape improvements and through filling ground-floor spaces, we think we can create a really special, walkable, interesting and fun downtown.”

Through a new initiative launched in January, DPI began allocating additional funding and manpower toward a series of streetscape improvements, a retail matchmaking program and sidewalk activation through events. Working toward a walkable downtown has always been a priority of DPI, but right now the timing is critical according to Klocke.

With approximately 2,000 housing units currently under construction, equating to 5,000 new residents in the next three years — focusing on the things large and small that people interact with at the street level will be well worth the long-term investment, he said.

Since the beginning of 2016, DPI has replanted 67 shade trees, worked with 75 potential retailers, brokers and developers to fill spaces or get new projects built, and sponsored dozens of events, helping to bring more than 100 days of activity to downtown streets this year.


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