Entertainment Districts: What not to do

Feeding off yesterday’s post, I thought I’d share an example of what not to do

I hate giving Phoenix too much grief. It already receives enough commentary from the urban planning collective, and rightfully so, but books have been written about it and there really isn’t much room for me to expand. I do find it appropriate though to comment on Phoenix’s Legends Entertainment District.

The entertainment district includes:

2 sports arenas
1 convention center
1 large office tower (Colliers Center)
1 historic renovation (Luhrs Building)
2 large multistory parking garages
1 light rail line

While I find it encouraging that Phoenix is finally looking inward in an attempt to create a more vibrant downtown- this is not the way to do it. The two sports arenas, convention center and two parking garages create empty zones on non-event days. The intensive ‘entertainment development’ will also discourage residential in the nearby area (95 percent of the time it’s empty space, and 5 percent of the time its chaotic space).

The light rail line and historic renovation are steps in the right direction, but will be fruitless endeavors unless more productive land uses aren’t created nearby (or along the light rail line). It’s also discouraging to see light rail stations in a downtown being surrounded by large, multistory parking decks. Furthermore, these critiques go without mentioning that the sports arenas, convention center, light rail and parking decks were likely paid for by taxpayers (and therefore off the property tax rolls).

I’ve been to Phoenix, but I’m not intimately familiar. I can’t say for certain if this is a good development without being able to critically examine the surrounding land uses. However, from my research, I can say that it looks really, really bad.


2 thoughts on “Entertainment Districts: What not to do

    1. I have seen Idiocracy … This might be a first step in that direction. I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie was filmed in Arizona. The landscapes are certainly similar.

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