As the third fastest growing tech city in the United States, Phoenix is really making a name for itself. Home to innovative venues, like the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and a thriving business and arts scene, the Valley of the Sun is quickly becoming one of the most cutting-edge meetings destinations in the country. And 2018 promises to be its best year yet.
“Downtown Phoenix has really seen an explosion of new development the past decade, but the past two years have been the most apparent,” Sara Scoville-Weaver, business development manager with Downtown Phoenix, Inc., tells Convene. “Our hotel stock at the end of 2008 was about 1,500 hotel rooms. Now, we’re quickly going to be eclipsing 4,000 hotel rooms.”
Later this year, the Hampton Inn will open in downtown Phoenix. The new 11-story, 210-room property will offer meeting and event space and will be centrally located near the city’s business district, Arizona State University (ASU), and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus — a 30-acre urban medical and bioscience campus, offering more than 6 million square feet of academic and clinical space.
Further adding to Phoenix’s hotel portfolio is the new AC Marriott, which will break ground later this year. The 15-story building will overlook a three-acre urban park — part of the Arizona Center development, which is currently undergoing a $25 million renovation — that will include additional restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
“We have around 3,800 hotel rooms within a 15-minute walk of the convention center, which will be really good for conventioneers,” Scoville-Weaver says. “We’ve also grown our residential stock the past few years, and that’s contributed to the increase in bars and nightlife and live music downtown.” In the past two or three years, the city has seen an increase in multi-family apartments and townhomes. There are currently approximately 2,200 residential units in construction (and over 3,300 in predevelopment) and six cranes dotting the Phoenix skyline, signifying new retail and office space as well.
Opening in August last year, a new music venue, the Van Buren, offers a unique 20,000-square-foot event space. The property has played host to some top talent, including the Cold War Kids and the Indigo Girls. “We are thrilled to announce these shows,” Charlie Levy, co-owner of the venue, told the Phoenix New Times, “and to bring even more music and arts to downtown Phoenix.”
And expanding the city’s resources for medical meetings, the Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building was added to the Biomedical Campus last year. The new property serves as a hub for healthcare science and research, housing professionals with a myriad of backgrounds, including mechanical engineering, chemistry, biology, and nanotechnology.
“The downtown Phoenix core surrounding the Phoenix Convention Center is growing and evolving daily,” Lorne Edwards, vice president of sales and services for Visit Phoenix, tells Convene. “Thanks to an influx of entrepreneurs, visionaries, students, and artists, the city is brimming with youthful energy and new investment. We’re excited for our clients and their attendees to experience the next wave of development that includes more hotel rooms, restaurants, and downtown’s first grocery store.”
Downtown’s very first grocery store, the Fry’s Food Store, will open in 2019. It will be located a short walk from the convention center and will anchor a new complex called Block 23 @ CityScape. The mixed-use project will include 330 apartments, 200,000 square feet of office space, restaurants, and retail locations. “This project is going to be a game changer for our city,” Mayor Greg Stanton told azcentral.com.
So meeting attendees can easily get from one event and education session to the next, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. is focusing on making the heart of the city more walkable. “What we’ve been doing in response to more and more people coming in, is changing downtown Phoenix’s walkability, so that when you leave the convention center or the hotel, you feel connected,” Scoville-Weaver says. “We’re proactively changing decades of street planning that revolved around cars, and focusing on things like rebuilding our tree canopy and making sure we have really cool features on the street — we call them ‘Instagrammable-worthy’ — including murals, so people feel connected when they’re walking downtown.”
Feature image shows a rendering of Block 23. Photo credit Red Development.