Kevin Rille, President of the Evans Churchill Community Association, is concerned about this new Circle K in his neighborhood. Below, he tells us why:
Blooming Rock: Do you think that the proposed Circle K is good for the neighborhood?
Kevin Rille: It was well stated by a Garfield resident at the Garfield Organization board meeting last night, and I’m paraphrasing, the plan for the Circle K is certainly a good plan for a Circle K but it isn’t a good fit for the neighborhood.
Blooming Rock: Why?
Kevin Rille: The main reason that I keep hearing over and over again is the crime and accompanying negative element that the liquor sales at Circle K attracts is a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood. There is a recent study that was done by ASU which certainly seems to support this case which I encourage people to read. Furthermore if you look at the police call statistics, there is a much higher amount of calls to Circle K. In fact, the existing Circle K had more than double the calls over the first 8 months of 2012 than the Sinclair just up 7th Street which also sells beer and wine. People who have been here much longer than me and really know the history say that Circle K and others surrounding downtown have always been a problem for residents so why would the city support that history of bad behavior by putting up a bigger one?
Blooming Rock: What would you rather see?
Kevin Rille: Frankly, this is the most interesting discussion and where I feel the most confusion lies. It is understandable that anyone can see the existing building and business that has been on the SEC of 7th St and Roosevelt for many years isn’t what the city or its residents want. I can’t imagine many people would see otherwise. But, when people argue that the only option is this much larger Circle K or the existing site, I think they are missing the bigger picture. (The bigger picture) is that the City of Phoenix has been really great and has spent around $1 billion dollars in downtown and many millions of dollars in the Garfield neighborhood and we are seeing the real fruits of all that turning out today with new projects like Roosevelt Point and Hance Park improvements and the Roosevelt Streetscape. These are seemingly better comparisons, especially when you consider that this corner is going to be one of the few key entry points into Downtown Phoenix for the next 40-50 years.
Blooming Rock: Is there anything Circle K can do to make the project more appealing and acceptable to the neighborhood?
Kevin Rille: Absolutely yes, the downtown community is vastly under served and needs a local and walkable grocery where people living in Garfield and Evans Churchill don’t have to drive over the freeway to shop. And, to be clear, Circle K has been proposing all along that if the new store in built it would have fresh produce and more food options to best serve the community. This need has been an ongoing discussion on many levels downtown and will continue to be until it is met. The only objection at hand is the sale of alcohol, hence the use permit hearing. Many people have asked for Circle K to create a local downtown food market, how great would that be?
Photo Credit: Photo of the Circle K sign of the 16-bay location on Indian School and 11th Street. Photo by the author.
Tags: Circle K, Evans Churchill Community Association, gateway to Downtown Phoenix, Kevin Rille, phoenix, Roosevelt and 7th Street
Alcohol sales will lead to an increase in crime in the neighborhood? If this argument is to be used it needs to be done so across the board and not when a company like Circle K comes knocking. I’m sure the same wasn’t said about Carly’s, Lost Leaf or FilmBar.
#1 — there’s a meaningful difference between alcohol sold for on-site consumption, and packaged alcohol sales, Carly’s/Lost Leaf/FilmBar isn’t a valid comparison.
#2 — Alcohol sales *by Circle K* lead to increased crime. This is seen by other neighborhoods as well as shown by ASU’s study. Circle K has shown that it’s just not good at managing its stores.
I am a property owner and manager of 7 units in the Garfield neighborhood, marking 35 years this year and am familiar with the neighborhood and its transitions, needs and wants. In the past, I worked closely with the Circle K at the corner of 7th Avenue and McDowell Road in the past regarding issues of crime. Our apartments are neighbors to that store. I found Circle K Corporation very responsive and concerned with the mutual issues. We developed a plan and it is working at that location.
During those discussions I discovered that the larger stores;
1) Make ease of flight during criminal activity difficult
2) Larger stores have the ability to plan interiors to reduce crime
3) Larger stores with more outside activity are a deterrent to crime and provide more witnesses if there is crime
4) Larger stores have a larger staff therefore they have the ability to have staff patrol the areas and keep them clean and safe.
That corner is a fueling location for those moving on 7th Street North and the I-10 entrance. It is best to have that consolidated in one location rather than in several small locations. This would result in a fewer number of smaller stores, making it possible to have other types of local stores and shops that serve the surrounding area needs more specifically.
As you point out this is a min entry and exit point for downtown, so by default (not illusion) there would need to be a fueling station. Consolidating this makes sense.
I have been informed that Circle K was responsive to the concerns of the Historic Garfield Neighborhood in the design of the new location. This is an indication that they care about their neighbors as well as their business.
Efforts would be better focused on the burned out “contributing” historic homes that are actually tagged with “signs” “welcome crime and blight”. As well as those that have been boarded up for up to 15 years. This, not alcohol contribute to the feeling of unsafe area.
Revitalization requires some “anchor” investors to begin the process.
PS the study is flawed in the fact that it doesn’t take into consideration the “size” of the store as a factor. Note in the study that the larger Quik Trips and the larger K Stores have the lowest crime statistics.
Wayne, can you please clarify your argument about consolidation of convenience stores? Has Circle K made a commitment to close several small stores around Downtown if it is able to build this one large store? Has it actually identified interested parties that would purchase any small stores it closes and perform the expensive environmental remediation associated with former gas station sites?
Or, is the argument based more on the idea that allowing Circle K to open this one large store now will prevent it from opening even more small stores in the future? If that’s the case, I’d say the City shouldn’t be held hostage by Circle K’s potential future plans and should make the best decision it can based on current circumstances.
Sorry about the confusion. If I were fueling I would choose the larger cleaner and easier to access store. This would most likely result in less business for the smaller stores, making more space for other businesses that would cater to the neighborhood rather than the commuter. I personally would not like to see a standalone liquor store near there, when a Circle K would more discreetly serve those needs. Circle K most likely is basing it’s decisions of the traffic flow at that location for gas…….I do not know this, it is only a guess.
Thanks for the reply. It sounds then like the consolidation argument is based on speculation about consumer preferences. Personally, I agree with you. When I drive, I like to refuel at a large, modern station. Still, given the pricey remediation required, few gas stations see new life as other businesses. As James suggests below, I suspect we’ll still see the same number of gas stations Downtown — only some of them may be abandoned. I don’t see that as a good outcome.
Seems like everyone is missing the big picture here. There is a lot more to this story and the new Circe K will impact the neighborhood beyond just the sale of alcohol.
The new mega gas station will demolish several older buildings, while leaving the existing K to the north abandoned indefinitely. Roosevelt and 7th street, described in this post and within several comments as a gateway to our downtown and urban core, will be marked by gas stations (existing and abandoned) on 3 of its 4 corners.
Sure, 7th street will never be a pedestrian mall and the buildings being demolished are certainly nothing too special. But, look south at some other buildings that were restored and put to use. They have strong bones, are built right up to the street and most importantly, would be more affordable than any new construction retail spaces, allowing the creative class to move in and continue building and transforming the neighborhood.
Those are the kind of buildings that should be greeting visitors to our downtown, not 16 gas pumps. And, by constantly knocking down buildings that have potential for new uses (drawing in visitors and engaging them in our community, instead of having them fill up their SUV and heading straight back to the burbs), we are destroying any chance we have our downtown being revitalized or growing organically.
Unfortunately, what’s done is done. A shiny new Circle K across the street from a deteriorating former store- hello, progress.