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I-5 interchange work boosts Phoenix

PHOENIX — The overhaul of the Exit 24 freeway interchange combined with urban renewal efforts appear to have prompted increased commercial activity in the downtown core.

“Changes that are occurring in downtown Phoenix have encouraged (businesses) to become part of a community that is doing things to improve itself,” said Matt Brinkley, the city's planning director.

Among additions upcoming or under consideration are:

  • A 10,000- to 11,000-square-foot commercial retail space where the Bavarian Motel currently sits at the Bolz Road and Main Street (Highway 99) juncture. A pre-application conference has been held with a Portland developer, who has not revealed his client's identity.
  • A Figaro’s Pizza franchise at 315 S. Main St. in a former video store space between a Purple Parrot and Subway that has been empty for more than five years. Permits have been issued, and work is underway on the shop.
  • A floor-covering operation at 133 S. Main St. that will convert a former bicycle shop into showroom space and replace a separate warehouse with a larger shop and warehouses space. Site design review is finished for the location.

Inquiries have also been made for developments on property around the interchange east of the freeway, said Brinkley. He expects announcements on projects there and additional downtown efforts in the near future.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the midst of a $72 million reconstruction of Exit 24 on Interstate 5 and adjacent access roads. The Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency started work to prepare 30 acres between Main Street and Bear Creek Drive for development and open space in September.

Purchase of the property at Bolz and Main is dependent on approval for the project, Portland developer John Hummelt said. He said the tenant felt the business was there to make the location successful.

“I can’t tell you who the tenant is. We are probably 30 to 60 days away from submitting our plan for design review,” Hummelt said. “We are making a few tweaks in the site plan.”

John Ford hopes to open his Figaro’s pizza franchise shortly after the new year. He attended Phoenix High School and owns a Figaro’s in Gold Hill. The empty, 1,500-square-foot space will get walls, bathrooms, kitchen equipment and other restaurant essentials.

“I can see the potential of this place growing and expanding with what’s going on here,” said Ford.

Matt Sekreta expects to open Superior Floor Covering in the late spring or early summer. The location offer a showroom to customers, a feature he lacks at his current warehouse on South Stage Road, which he will retain.

The Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency has awarded Sekreta a grant to do facade work, including handicapped access, painting, security, lighting and signage. The new warehouse and work space will total 2,000 square feet. He expects to add to his seven-employee staff.

In recent months, Garrison’s Mattress Gallery occupied a large building on the corner of Main Street and Fern Valley Road, and the Phoenix Gift Boutique opened in a vacant space at 507 N. Main Street.

ODOT expects the interchange work to be complete by September 2016. Traffic should begin crossing the new overpass early next year, said spokesman Gary Leaming. The new northbound onramp and southbound offramp will also open at that time.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmil.com.