Thursday, December 27, 2007

AZ Light Rail - You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

I noticed in the paper recently that one of the biggest stories of the year was light rail. If they think 07' was big news, wait till they get a load of what's coming in 08'! Of course, they are mainly talking about the construction issues and business owners effected by the bumps, barricades and bruises to their wallets. Now, we are starting to see more and more "good" press as we are within a year from actually riding the rail lines in Phoenix, Tempe and in Mesa.
The Phoenix Business Journal recently had an article about driving in Tempe where they mentioned some updates on road conditions along the light rail line. Most of the road work is done in Tempe but Mesa and Phoenix still have some serious construction going on.
This morning, I decided to take a drive from downtown Phoenix and head east all the way to the end of the line in Mesa. Starting near the Van Buren / 1st Ave stop I noticed some of the never ending construction in this rapidly changing area. I thought of the benefit for many of the people that work (and might actually live and play ) down town. The large projects going on around here will bring some major changes in the near future.
As I headed east on Jefferson, I noticed a ton of construction, torn up streets, barricades etc that are probably driving people nuts. Once you get to where the Washington and Jefferson routes align, you pretty much have smooth sailing. This seems to be an area (along Washington) that will be changing more than most. You still find a lot of under developed land along the section from say, 24th street, all the way to the Tempe border. Two places along Washington that I noticed near future rail stops and felt would benefit from the rail line were Gateway Community College ( Washington / 38th St stop ) and the Crowne Plaza Hotel. ( Washington / 44th St stop ) Access to each of these places will improve and give students and travelers more choices to get to restaurants, entertainment etc.
Continuing east through Tempe, the roads are in good condition. I think the area near College and 5th street is going to see some really cool changes in the near future. The proximity to the Mill Ave district, ASU football / basketball, student housing etc will be a great place for a rail stop. (more about that soon)
Once I got to the Tempe Canal near the Mesa border, there was a ton of construction again. Just a short drive from there to the end of this first 20 mile section of light rail. The Park and Ride lot at Sycamore is taking shape but currently looks in disarray with all of the construction and unfinished building of the structure and rail stop. The neighborhoods near Sycamore should see a benefit as new life gets breathed in. Time will tell, but I'm pretty sure 08' will have a lot of new news for Light Rail in Arizona..

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Light Rail Info from KJZZ

Here is a Light Rail interview from the KJZZ radio program.. They discuss ridership, extensions, demand, uses for light rail's existing route, area development, future commuter rail options etc.
Interesting comparisons to other Light Rail Cities such as San Diego, Houston, Salt Lake, Dallas etc. etc.
The "car culture" of Phoenix was discussed and some interesting points of view were shared. The 20 mile "starter" line sound to be just the begining for AZ Light Rail.
Check it out.. Let us know what you think..

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Award Winning Tempe Town Lake Bridge

Tempe Town Lake plays a major part in the light rail system. In fact, nearly $22 million was spent to build an award winning bridge to carry light rail cars and passengers over the lake.
The bridge design includes a state-of-the-art fiber-optic lighting system that can change colors as the train crosses and provide other interesting visual effects. A fiber optic tube will be installed under the deck of the bridge and illuminate screens covering the truss structure. The
lighting component will be the art feature for the bridge, and was conceived by artist Buster
Simpson who is developing several lighting programs to control the color, pattern and movement of the light, such as how quickly the colors change or move across the bridge. The lights were tested over 4th of July this past year but will remain off until further notice. (Grand Opening?)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Smooth Sailing for Light Rail Test

Light Rail Trains began a week long series of tests along Washington this morning running at different times between 9:00am - 3:00pm through Friday. The difference between these tests and some of the past tests mainly focus on the fact that they are without police stopping or guiding traffic. Guess what, no-one was hurt. Well, not that I know of anyway. :-) I did speak with a few people from Metro that were on hand to observe and they were very nice and seemed very "proud" of their sucessful runs. I took this video as the train headed West on Washington Street from just under the 202 bridge. I have some pics of the cars with the doors open etc. and will add some more later...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Light Rail, ASU and Surrounding Communities

Light Rail will be a huge benefit to ASU and to ASU students commuting between the Downtown Phoenix Campus and the Tempe Campus. With the ease of traveling between the 2 facilities and the many new housing and entertainment choices along the line, many of us will undoubtedly appreciate the added convenience. Students are a perfect fit to use and ride the light rail as life around both of the two campuses will be easily linked. From concert venues like the Marquee Theater near the Priest / Washington stop to sporting venues like the Suns and the Diamondbacks near the 3rd St / Jefferson stop to the proposed "Jackson Entertainment District," it will be easy to live, work and play within these two booming areas. Of course, these areas will also see much more interest from many other valley residents, vacationers, convention center visitors etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg.. Stay tuned for more information about many of these upcoming areas and "life on the line!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Light Rail Journey - Construction to Completion

With more than a year remaining before Light Rail cars begin their daily journey's here in town, business owner's are slowly gaining more confidence in their future. The effect on some small business owners has been tough but many have thought similar to Denise Bismore, owner of Silver Spoon Express and the Daily Grind. "I see a tremendous potential coming up the road with the condos, light rail and the revitalization of downtown Phoenix."
The papers have been reporting on how bad rail has been to business along the line but the amount of current optimism and actual development is not to be ignored. Phoenix has "tried" to help with their un-impressive and un-inclusive "Shop the Line" site. I'm not sure why they don't have a list of all businesses along the entire route. Time and completion of construction is what the current owner's need.
Today's AZ Republic has some interesting quotes from well known local business owners. Keith Earnest, of CityScape mentioned that "The light rail was one of the factors that influenced our decision to buy that block." ... Dale Jensen (part owner of Suns/Diamondbacks) says "The most valuable land in Phoenix is one to two blocks from light rail."
It is becoming easier to drive along many parts of the rail line but there is obviously still a ton of work to be done. It might seem like an eternity to some of the "little guys" along the route but soon, they will be able to say.. "remember when.."
Check out our Light Rail site for more info!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Newberry Terrace,Tempe Homes near Light Rail

This morning, I attended an "Open House" showcasing the new residential project called Newberry Terrace which is located just South of Apache and East of Rural in Tempe. The future Dorsey / Apache stop for Metro's light rail project is just a short distance away.. Homes range in size from 1376 to nearly 2400 square feet and current pricing begins near $280k and goes up to the $400's. Their B and D plans consist of single family homes from 2-4 bedrooms while the E and F plans consist of loft/town-home style units with attached, common walls. This is a nice in-fill project with a couple of "common areas" that are well landscaped and look pretty good. The two main streets for entering/exiting the community are wide enough to accommodate parking and drive through traffic which is nice for this type of density. The City of Tempe appears to be very excited about Newberry Terrace as evidenced by City employee comments and the fact that the Mayor attended this mornings "festivities." (coffee, juice and some pastries were provided)
Several other projects are being developed along this part of light rail line. Stay tuned for more info on other happenings and more homes near light rail in Tempe in the near future.
We will be constantly adding lists of projects along the entire line. Feel free to use our free mls search for all kinds of homes that will be located on or near Metro's Light Rail.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Light Rail Stuff

This past Saturday, I attended another "public" meeting in Tempe with City officials, APAC members and members of the Community Design & Architecture group that is working with the City of Tempe by doing light rail impact studies along Apache Blvd.
The public interest hasn't quite peaked. You see, there were at least a dozen people there to handle the questions of maybe 6-8 citizens. The main discussions centered around making the light rail line easy for people to live, work and play near by. A lot of effort seems to be in place to get input from people as to the types of development needed along Apache. If you ask me, there are some less than desirable areas that need a ton of help as well as some really great areas that will be even more enhanced by the coming of this project.
Access from near by neighborhoods will need to be improved to make it convenient for people to walk to a station. Some of their studies focused on areas within an 800' walking distance to each "platform" (rail stop.)
Some things of interest to me were looking at many of the very small parcels along Apache which do not seem exactly perfect for developing large, quality projects. We saw slides and projections of "potential" ways to develop the area but it is still pretty early to see how the development community is going to react. From what I have heard from some of my friends in the commercial real estate business, the light rail line has a lot of interest.
This is going to be fun for us to watch.. Stay tuned. :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tempe Light Rail Meeting

There will be an "open house" at the Tempe Police Substation ( 1855 E Apache) this Wednesday at 6PM to discuss the light rail stations on Apache Blvd. Currently, there are four stations on Apache ranging from Dorsey to McClintock to Smith-Martin and down to Price Road. These stations look to be fairly significant as 3 of the 4 also will have Park-and-Ride Stations. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be to share ideas for the area, discuss future light rail stations and to provide an overview of existing conditions near these areas. The area in discussion is considered Line Section 5 and has some pretty interesting "dynamics" that will come in to play. ie: Great access to the 101, a lot of commercial potential and some housing areas that will undoubtedly go through some changes in the near future.
Other public meetings are held monthly to provide section updates and for people to voice their opinion on construction etc. I have been to several of these meetings and try to drink a Red Bull before in case something of real interest is discussed. This Wednesday's meeting sounds like it will be pretty interesting though. Maybe I'll see ya there.. Feel free to check the Rail Life blog for info on more Light Rail meetings..

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

AZ Light Rail - Fast Track to Good Grub

Arizona's Light Rail line will be a great way to check out some very good and some very "interesting" restaurants. A few month's ago, I found this blog that's got all kinds of restaurants on it along the rail line. Pretty cool stuff, even if I didn't see two of my favorites; They would be.. Monti's La Casa Vieja and Pizzeria Bianco.
Monti's is located at 100 S. Mill Ave near the future stop at Third /Mill. Michael Monti also has a blog with some great info..
Pizzeria Bianco is located at 623 E Adams St. near the future stop at Third / Washington.
Ever tried to get in, or to park, near Pizzeria Bianco? The place is ALWAYS packed. I remember going in there after a D-backs game one night and we sat next to Jerry Colangelo. What a nice guy he was!
Once the line opens, it will be fun to check out a bunch of new spots to try.. Stay tuned..

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sports Fans and Light Rail!

As we drove down Washington on our way to see the Diamondbacks win game one of their playoff series against the Cubs Wednesday night, the traffic was horrible. I was glad to see it though as we were driving right next to the future light rail line. Soon, there will be stops near many of our major sporting arenas. ( Like this at 3rd St / Jefferson ) Getting to Suns, D-Back and ASU games will be made easier for many people. The fans at the game this week showed that AZ is finally becoming a really great sports town. With the Devils un-defeated and the D-Backs looking to go deep in to the playoffs, people can find a lot of excuses to be in down town Tempe and Phoenix.
My 3 year old son loves trains and I can't wait to take him and his little brothers on a light rail ride. I think it will be a blast to go to a game downtown AND get to ride the "train."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

AZ Light Rail - Not all "Urban Luxury"

Most of the articles I have seen about Light Rail in the paper talk about the many "large" projects being built along the light rail line. Places like "Edgewater," in Tempe and "Chateaux on Central," in Phoenix have been mentioned several times. (among many others)

While these projects and many of the commercial projects are interesting, I think there is another demographic that hasn't been mentioned nearly as much. At both ends of the line and in places in-between, we see some neighborhoods that don't (yet) get much press. Neighborhoods that might house some of the people that will actually use the rail to get to work. I had lunch with a valley firefighter last week and we discussed some of these areas. Believe me folks, not everyone along the line will be spending a million bucks on a condo.

We have been researching many of the single family neighborhoods and look forward to watching the progression of these areas.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tempe Luxury Apartments - SOLD! $$$

JPMorgan Chase & Co recently paid nearly $85 MILLION for a 466 unit luxury apartment complex just North of Rio Salado and West of Mill. ( 1033 N Parkside Dr.) The property, called Trillium Rio Salado, includes units that range in size from 813 - 1498 square feet. Rents currently range from $920 - $1,700 and above.

When the deal was announced, there was a mention that the complex is "near the future light-rail line in Tempe." One of Trillium's partners called this a "trophy property" and mentioned it's "great location."
I took a look at the area and the complex and it really is a nice place. I notice a ton of new development in this area with a lot of commercial use, great freeway access, close to Mill Ave, the Zoo, golf, spring training, hiking etc.

Much of the residential being built in the area is South of the river but watch for more condos etc competing for this space. In fact, most of the area west of here (along Washington) look to have a lot of future potential as well. It has been a "bad area" for a long time but with the airport and a large job base, we might see more development in the near future.

The Central Corridor and Downtown Tempe are building like crazy. Should only be a matter of time before we see more "infill" projects. Stick around, this is getting to be a LOT of fun to watch...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mosaic is coming to Tempe

Last night's "Mosaic Groundbreaking Gala" was held at the Tempe Center for the Arts. There was a lot of good food, drink and information! Hugh Hallman gave a very upbeat talk about the new project and the City itself.

Mosaic is a gorgeous project, well designed and will have many great features including a Whole Foods Market. In their brochure that was handed out last night is a quote mentioning; "And with the light rail system and downtown businesses nearby, work and play meet here too."

Other amenities mentioned for the project include:

24 Hour Building Supervision - daytime concierge/manager, evening security.
Rooftop Garden Plaza - heated pool, spa, barbecue, outdoor fireplace.
Fitness Center - state of the art equipment, locker rooms, steam rooms, showers.
Resident Lounge - large screen tv, catering kitchen, game table
Business Center - conference room, WIFI
Residential Storage Facilities
Gated Valet Parking for Residents - gated parking for guests.

Mosaic is a really nice addition to the City of Tempe. We will be bringing you more Mosaic info in the near future. The Tempe real estate market is ever changing, please follow along and let us know if you have any questions about life in this great area...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Will they ride the Rail?

For the past year, or so, I have been watching the development of the Light Rail project that is projected to open in Dec 08.
The project is interesting to me for many reasons and I have taken the time to attend public meetings, read and gather several articles and gather a ton of information concerning current and future housing along the 20 mile route.
While many people have been critical of the expense and have been quick to say that "nobody" will ride the line because of the sprawl that AZ is known for; I believe that the Valley is ready and people have begun to embrace the project. ASU students will undoubtedly ride between the Tempe and Phoenix facilities. People working along the line will actually be able to get to lunch without a car! People attending meetings/conventions at the Phx Convention Center will probably find the line to be very useful.
In Dec of 06' I attended a public meeting and had the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the light rail project with Metro's "public involvement" manager. At the time, I was told that nearly 3000 businesses were located along the line and that "approximately" $750 million of private investment had already been planned along the route.
Many commercial projects, hotels and a ton of interesting residential projects are currently being built. I look forward to sharing my findings with everyone!