July 25, 2012

6 Cool New Happenings in Downtown Phoenix

by: Taz Loomans


Recently, I found myself talking to a few friends on separate occasions about how many cool new things are happening in Downtown Phoenix right now. We talked about how all these things are having a collective impact and gathering momentum for our Downtown. My friend Philip Beere today remarked on how Downtown has changed immensely in 10 years, going from almost no restaurants or places to hang out to all the places we see today. I’ve seen drastic changes even in the past five years, with a lot of mom and pop small businesses and community efforts taking hold. Plus I would say in the past year or so, things are picking up speed and the winds are definitely changing for the better in Downtown Phoenix.

Below are 6 cool new Downtown happenings that have been popping up a lot in conversations around me…


Moving and installing this great public art piece to Mike Davis’s Ro2 Lot was a gynormous community effort in the middle of the summer. But now it’s become a welcome addition to the Roosevelt Art’s District, right next door to the next cool thing people have been buzzing about….

Songbird Coffee and Tea House

Songbird just opened yesterday, but people have been talking about it for quite a while. A Places, Spaces and Faces Community Dinner was held there just this weekend. It is a very cute little coffee shop inside monOrchid, a gallery and co-working space in the Roosevelt Arts District – a great example of mixed-use!

Lawn Gnome Bookstore

Every time I visit another city, I make it a point to go to a bookstore in their Downtown. I’ve visited some great ones in Seattle, Milwaukee, London, and Chicago. I’ve been DYING for a 2nd hand bookstore to come to Downtown Phoenix and now we have one! Enter the Lawn Gnome 2nd hand bookstore. Welcome to the neighborhood friends!

Pedal Craft at the City

Pedal Craft at Kitchen Sink Studios earlier this year was one of the most exciting and successful events Downtown Phoenix has ever seen. It was all about bikes and art. The huge turn out at this event showed the growing presence of a bicycle culture in Phoenix. Now we have Pedal Craft take II at City Hall, very aptly showing the people in power this growing presence – wink, wink, hint, hint. More bicycle lanes please!

Murals All Over the Place!

There are murals everywhere in the Roosevelt Arts District, I mean EVERYWHERE. And it’s wonderful. These murals, more and more popping up all the time, give the place, well, a sense of place. These murals are becoming such a phenomenon that Roosevelt Arts District is quickly becoming a destination for visitors from all over the Valley. By the way, there’s nothing like a mural to make back alleys and parking lots actual places of interest for people to enjoy instead of forgotten, dark places where questionable things occur.

Bodega 420

Holy cow what a cute little market! I love cute little markets like this and was remarking on one I saw in Bisbee just recently and on another I saw near Downtown Tempe. But, look, Downtown Phoenix has one too! This market was set up as a compliment to the now defunct Urban Grocery, and has become quite a community hot spot in the area. My friend Bob Diehl tells me the ice-cream here is to die for.

So there you go, Downtown Phoenix is finally getting a personality and becoming an interesting place! And I have a feeling that this is only the beginning…

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8 Responses

  1. brenda says:

    I love this list, Taz. Yay Phoenix!

    People should hurry and come see the Pedalcraft posters at City Hall while they are here. They are so beautiful!

    I have to get to the Lawn Gnome book store. I really need something new to read.

    Three new(ish) places that I am so glad are here: Monarch Theatre, Treehouse Bakery and Revera Beauty.

  2. Taz Loomans says:

    Thanks for your comment Brenda! I want to check out Monarch, Treehouse and Revera!!!

  3. Steve Weiss says:

    It’s a good list, and all of it is very good for those who have been around long enough to remember when nothing was around. I’d throw in The Nash on 1st Street and Roosevelt as another destination on Sundays, when they do an all-evening jazz jam.

    However, and anyone who knows me might get a kick out of this, we do NOT have a college hang-out, a missing piece in the downtown Phoenix ASU campus equation. The person who can sell a $1.00 menu of small burgers, street tacos, cheap pitchers of beer but NOT be only a bar only will clean up financially AND give a hang-out to the student crowd. Until then we have to collectively blame ourselves for their not coming down out of the moated gated campus.

    If You Build It(or better, adaptive reuse), He and She Will Come.

    • Taz Loomans says:

      Agreed Steve, good point, yes – that is still missing down here. Great opportunity for an entrepreneur 🙂

  4. NOTahipster says:

    Fucking hipsters…or is that too mainstream?

  5. Julie Baier says:

    Another great spot we discovered by accident last Saturday is GreenHAUS. We stopped to admire the three little birds mural, and then I saw a Buddha behind the gallery, and we were admiring the great fence when Cole, the owner, opened her back door and we startled her. She invited us in to see the shop. They’ve done a great job in there, and have a photo album documenting how they’ve preserved the murals inside the building.

  6. brenda says:

    Steve Weiss, you mean something like The Varsity in Atlanta? http://www.thevarsity.com/

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