Phoenix Transforms Downtown Warehouses Into a Tech Hub

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

It seems an unlikely juxtaposition: high-tech and historic buildings. Yet for a slew of high-tech companies that have found a home in the Warehouse District — a network of 1920s-era brick buildings in downtown Phoenix neighboring Talking Stick Resort Arena and Chase Field — it’s a perfect match.

Among them is rehab therapy software company WebPT. Brad Jannenga, the company’s co-founder, told the Phoenix Business Journal that he didn’t want to establish his 300-staff office in a “cubicle farm.” And, having always been fascinated by old buildings, he was naturally attracted to the Warehouse District, described by its website as a place “where visionaries see what others cannot.”

“There is a renaissance happening in the historic Phoenix Warehouse District, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” said Jim Deters, CEO and co-founder of Galvanize, a technology-education campus housing 60 start-ups. “You can feel the creative energy here, and the district is where ingenuity, community, collaboration and hard work intersect.”

Uber, Yelp, and Shutterfly have all opened offices in downtown Phoenix, helping to increase tech jobs by almost 20 percent from 2010 to 2015, and positioning the city to be the next Silicon Valley. “In the past few years, downtown Phoenix has become one of the most popular spots in Arizona for technology companies to base their businesses,” Arizona Technology Council President and CEO Steve Zylstra told the Phoenix Business Journal.

Downtown Phoenix’s growing tech ecosystem has caught the eye of technology-based conventions. Chicktech, a nonprofit dedicated to retaining women in technology, will hold its 2018 ACT-W National here next April, attracting more than 2,500 STEM leaders and professionals for three days of training sessions, hands-on workshops, and one-on-one coaching.

NetSmart Technologies will also bring its annual convention, Connections 2018, to Phoenix in April. Thousands of NetSmart clients will convene for more than 100 education sessions, networking events, and keynote speakers at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Event participants can venture outside of the convention center to experience the Warehouse District’s innovative and unique special-event spaces in buildings inhabited by hardware companies from the 1930s and early-1900s seed companies. Croft Downtown, Warehouse215 at Bentley Projects, and The Vintage 45 offer approximately 9,000, 10,000, and 19,000 square feet of event space, respectively.

Wherever they go, groups will see proof that Phoenix is a city on the move, including an expanded Arizona State University campus, mixed-used development CityScape, and the Valley Metro light rail system.

“If you haven’t been to downtown Phoenix within the last two years, then you really haven’t been,” said Lorne Edwards, Visit Phoenix’s vice president of sales and services. “Downtown Phoenix is now the place to see and be seen. An influx of both businesses and residents now call downtown home. New live/work/play spaces, trendy eateries, brew pubs, and cocktail bars are getting in on the action, creating a highly sought-after scene that both locals and conventioneers want to get a taste of.”

The potential of Downtown Phoenix has been “hidden in plain sight for decades,” Mayor Greg Stanton said recently at an art gallery showing in the Warehouse District. “But Phoenix is a land of opportunity, a place for risk takers.”

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