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Friday, March 24, 2017

Del Rio Redevelopment Options

Thanks to four community workshops held last year, brownfields redevelopment options in the South Mountain/Del Rio Area are now clearer.

On Jan. 20, the City of Phoenix released The Del Rio Community Visioning Summary Report, which details preferred design alternatives for the three sites in Del Rio Area Brownfields Planning Project. The locations include 70 acres west of Central Avenue; 10 acres east of Central Avenue, near the Rio Salado Audubon Center; and the former Del Rio Landfill.

According to Rosanne Albright, brownfields project manager for the City of Phoenix, more than 140 community members were involved in creating concepts for the three sites.

“In order to come up with the alternatives that are going to be taken forward, we had folks vote on their preferred alternative,” she said.

For the 70 acres west of Central Avenue, the most popular option involved a commercial center with entertainment and restaurant venues, as well as education, medical and park facilities. A single vote behind the top choice was a transit-oriented development with space for medical, training and commercial centers, as well as a park.

The preferred preference for the 10 acres east of the Rio Salado Audubon Center was a museum or café/restaurant and communal garden.

Several options received considerable votes for the former Del Rio Landfill. A community center with a possible park, golf course and soccer field complex was the top choice. A retail, restaurant and entertainment center with sports fields also received significant support.

Future community meetings will help determine how many alternatives move forward to the planning stages.

“The whole goal with this next series of meetings is to further evaluate the designs and select those that the community feels are most appropriate and most feasible,” Albright added. “Then we can start to write the actual brownfields area plan.”

The next meeting is on Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 S. Central Ave. Additional meetings will be held on March 27 and April 24 at the same location and time.

Besides the three sites already included in the Del Rio brownfields study, a consultant recently started inventory on other potential redevelopment opportunities in the area. Results will be shared during the February meeting, and the community will decide if additional sites get included in the area plan.

“Our goal is to get the final report completed by September,” Albright said. “So we’re looking at having a draft available to the public in late July or August.”

The Del Rio Community Visioning Summary Report is available at HYPERLINK “http://phoenix.gov/greenphoenix/land/brownfields/delrio/index.html” http://phoenix.gov/greenphoenix/land/brownfields/delrio/index.html.

About 80 percent of the land in the Del Rio Area is currently zoned for heavy industry. Also, more than 85 percent of residents are minorities, unemployment is nearly 12 percent, and about 37 percent of residents live below the poverty level.

A $175,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is funding redevelopment planning in the Del Rio Area. Altogether, as part of its brownfields development program, the EPA is providing $4 million to assist 23 communities nationwide in developing plans for the reuse of brownfield properties. These are locations where the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants may complicate expansion, redevelopment or reuse efforts.

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