Where Should Phoenix Build The Latino Cultural Center?

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, November 25, 2019 - 6:05am
Updated: Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - 12:07pm

exterior of former church
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The recommended location for a Latino Cultural Center is on the northwest corner of 3rd and Moreland streets in downtown Phoenix.

As Phoenix moves forward with plans to build a Latino Cultural Center, the location remains uncertain.

An ad hoc committee led by Vice Mayor Betty Guardado and Councilman Michael Nowakowksi was formed to create a strategic plan and recommend a cultural center location. The committee picked a former church at the northwest corner of 3rd and Moreland streets.

The city-operated site next to Hance Park met a key theme that emerged from a community survey: the center should be on par with Phoenix’s other major cultural institutions downtown. But, Councilmember Carlos Garcia, who’s been in office for about six months, said he can’t support the location because there’s no historical significance to the Latino community.

“I had an artist call me about it and say, ‘Our communities were redlined and weren’t not allowed north of whatever-Van Buren or the tracks-and so how can we set something up like where our communities weren’t even allowed,” he said.

The location, referred to as the North Building, is next to Hance Park. The 23,691 square foot building has 148 parking spaces and access to light rail and bus stops. Current rehabilitation costs are estimated at $12,056,800. Phoenix has $997,902 from a 2001 city bond program that’s been set aside to promote Latino culture.

Garcia also stressed the importance of economic development opportunities beyond the center.

“I think if there’s restaurants or shops, there’s things that can then expand through it,” he said. “The space where we’re thinking now, it stunts it, it stunts any further growth or any greater community, right? If we’re thinking of expanding other markets or different things around it I think it’s not available there.”

Based on his input, the city’s land use subcommittee will recommend the council move forward with hiring a consultant and keeping the downtown location while also exploring other options. Staff had evaluated other locations, including downtown and city-owned property throughout the city before the ad hoc committee chose the North Building.

Other downtown locations considered:

  • Regency Garage at southwest corner of 2nd and Adams streets.
  • Public Market parking grounds at southwest corner of 1st and McKinley streets.
  • Herberger Theater grounds at southwest corner of 3rd and Monroe streets.

Other city-owned sites considered:

  • Northeast corner of 7th Street and Buckeye Road.
  • Aviation land reuse “Spark” areas.
  • Del Rio Landfill.
  • Southeast corner of Broadway Road and Central Avenue.
  • Southwest corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway Road.

In 2016, the city hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study. Based on community input, focus groups and site visits, two main themes emerged:

  • A desire for a visible Latino cultural presence in Phoenix at the heart of the city’s cultural center.
  • Latino cultural center should be on par and in company with Phoenix’s other major cultural institutions and art centers located downtown.

 

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