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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One Step at a Time

I was recently asked by a friend what Between the 7’s in South Phoenix (SoPho) was all about? I explained to him that Between the 7’s is the area from 7th Avenue to 7th Street, from I-17 to the South Mountain Preserve. I continued to tell him that in my mind it is a place that is beautiful, diverse, friendly, safe, clean, and offers a live-work, pedestrian oriented community that showcases the lifestyles that can be cultivated near our South Mountain Sonoran Preserve, Rio Salado’s Riparian Habitat and Central Avenue Boulevard that connects us to Downtown Phoenix.”  I continued to tell him, “Although Between the 7’s in SoPho is not there yet,  I believe this is what we can become.”


He then asked me where I got the idea and how he can help. I told him all that I had discovered about Denver’s “LoDo”, Seattle’s “SoDo”, or Manhattans “SoHo” and other successful lower downtown models in our country that have re-developed into some of the most vibrant communities in the world. SoPho has the same opportunities as these communities and all we needed to do is participate in the visioning process that will help the public and today’s elected officials understand the long-term consequences of the decisions we make today. I told him that as residents of SoPho we must participate in the public forum to ensure a gradual progression that will build a high quality of life that we all desire for our children, grandchildren and the generations that will follow. We can learn from those lower downtown models and see what will work best for us. They successfully achieved their goals and created stronger and safer communities and we can do the same. Creating a neighborhood vision is essential and it requires significant community involvement in order to solve our current challenges and plan for a more sustainable future.


I asked him to imagine if our community received the billions of dollars in investment that have built Downtown Phoenix over the past 9 years.  I urged him to understand that we too need to strive for projects like the Bio-Sciences campus anchored by T-Gen, the U of A College of medicine, the Arizona State University Downtown campus, Valley Metro Light Rail line, and other stimulators that will drive new industries into our neighborhoods and create the jobs needed to support a vibrant lower downtown.


The transformation of downtown Phoenix will not be complete until the surrounding villages can thrive and support the revitalization efforts that have already taken place. The Central Arizona region is still expecting substantial growth and the projections are that by the year 2050, we can expect six million new residents and three million new jobs. I’m not sure if this projection will become a reality but regardless, growth will happen and we need to prepare and plan for this bright future.


We need to use the vacant land we have very wisely and create pedestrian and transportation oriented developments, new mixed-use centers, parks and civic spaces that will shorten trips and condense our growth. We have two of the city’s largest natural open spaces with South Mountains 16,000 acres of beautiful Sonoran Desert and Rio Salado’s almost 600 acres of lush riparian habitat. SoPho has an opportunity like nowhere else in the valley and can become another model for a vibrant and sustainable community. No other section of the city offers the diversity, culture, and history found in SoPho. It has the potential to offer something for everyone, from the visiting tourist to the life-long business-owner and resident.


So I started to think, if my friend who has known me for 15 years didn’t fully know what Between the 7’s in SoPho was, then I had better start doing a better job in helping him and everyone in the community understand the full potential that we have. And that is exactly what I plan on doing… one step at a time.



Written by Victor Vidales





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