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The Best of Phoenix

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A Short History of Phoenix Urban Living

Today, urban living in Phoenix is HOT! But it was not always so.

Phoenix real estate has long had a reputation for little more than sub-urban sprawl and vast areas of wood framed homes wrapped in stucco and topped with clay tile roofs. There was very little in the way of vertical living or dense urban cores like that found in other major metropolitan areas.

Three high rise residential buildings, Executive Towers, Regency on Central (formerly Regency House) and Embassy were built in the 1960’s as apartment buildings and later converted to condos. Phoenix Towers was built in the 1950’s as a Co-Op for which purpose it still servers today.

It wasn’t until 1990 that the first high rise building was constructed from the ground up in Phoenix to serve as condominiums. That building, Crystal Point, unfortunately was built during a boom/bust cycle and sales were slow for almost a decade. Now it is a vibrant and popular luxury high rise building known for its large open floor plans, fantastic views and more.

High Rise and Loft Real Estate is Popular

Why? Because among other things it’s more social, it’s interesting, it’s convenient and it’s dynamic. Putting more people together in a smaller space results in synergy and change and competition. It’s dynamic.

Urban is where it is at.

Competition for business is greater in urban cores so they work harder to attract people. Restaurants for example have cooler decor and good service and great food or else they get crushed by the competition. Examples include Postinos on Central and Windsor and Federal Pizza and Klever Koi and Fez and Vig Uptown and Rokerij and Luci’s Market Place and Alexis and St Francis and The Yard… I could go on. These aren’t boring big box restaurants. No, in most cases they are small, unique concept restaurants that are thriving and in doing so encouraging other restauranteurs to join the fray. Central Corridor and the surrounding area is enjoying a restaurant BOOM right now with no end in sight.

Now take this same formula and apply it to mid-century lighting stores and coffee shops and bars and art galleries and furniture stores and knick knack shops and blend in light rail access and cheap(er) taxi rides and free bike and walking treks and tie it all together with great architecture in the form of high rise condos, lofts, row homes and luxury condos and you have a kick ass place to live.

And yes, the trend is in its infancy with a lot more to come.

Camelback Corridor Communities

The Camelback Corridor runs from approximately 44th Street, west along Camelback Road, to about 12th Street. It also runs north and south from Camelback Road from about Bethany Home Road to about Osborn or so.

Some of the condo communities to the right do not fit exactly within these parameters but they fit better in Camelback Corridor than any other geographic category.

Camelback Corridor is largely defined by Biltmore Fashion Park and the intersection of 24th Street and Camelback. The area thrives with high rise condo buildings like Esplanade Place, 2211 Camelback, and Optima Biltmore as well as equally intriguing but less obvious developments like Galleries at Turney, the future Aura at Camelback, and George Lofts.

Downtown Phoenix Communities

Downtown Phoenix has enjoyed tremendous growth since the completion of light rail and ASU opening its Downtown Phoenix Campus.

Prior to those two events there was very little reason to visit downtown Phoenix except to catch a Suns or Diamondback game. But almost like flicking a switch, ASU and light rail brought life to the core.

People young and old now enjoy the wide range of restaurants, entertainment, sporting venues, theaters and just plain old waking around that the area offers.

Favorite urban communities like Portland Place, 44 Monroe and Summit at Copper Square will soon be joined by the new development Portland on the Park.

And like I’ve said before, more urban communities bring more people, which encourage and support more small businesses which attract more people and on and on and on. And with ASU in the mix churning more growth the area will just get better and better.

Midtown Phoenix Communities

Midtown Phoenix is defined by We Know Urban as the area running from Camelback Road to McDowell and from roughly 12th Street to 15th Avenue.

Midtown is not as dense or as clearly defined as other uban cores in the Valley but it is the home to some really great buildings like the high rise condo towers One Lexington, Crystal Point, Executive Towers, Regency on Central and Phoenix towers as well as some very interesting smaller buildings like Beadle View, Artisan on Osborn, Mezzo and others.

We expect to see a flurry of construction in the area over the coming decade as available land in downtown Phoenix becomes harder and harder to find. Already two new projects are about to break ground; ArtHaus and Edison Midtown with more sure to come.

Midtown benefits from its proximity to many of the great restaurants I mention above (and others) and with easy access to light rail, midtowners can easily enjoy amenities in downtown Phoenix and Tempe as well.

North Phoenix Communities

North Phoenix is not nearly as dense as the other urban areas mentioned here but it is still home to several architecturally cool communities that are pedestrian friendly including The Residences on High Street (for rent only) and Lofts at Kierland Commons and the twin high rise towers Kierland Landmark with a soon to break ground new Optima at Kierland project. You may notice that some of these same projects are also listed in the Scottsdale section of our web site. We do this because although the communities are technically In Phoenix, many people think of them as being in Scottsdale. So we list them under both cities for the sake of our audience.

All of these communities offer easy access to great restaurants and shopping in a more upscale setting.