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Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation is an artist-driven, grassroots 501(c)3 non-profit organization established to protect and enhance the character of the Roosevelt Row Arts District and to foster the role of the arts in establishing a vibrant, dense and diverse district in downtown Phoenix that is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

ArtPlace spoke with Roosevelt Row founder and board member Greg Esser about the organization’s plans for the coming year.

ARTPLACE: What is your elevator pitch when you describe your project to people?

ESSER: ArtPlace support is extending our work in three primary areas that we view as critical to the success of Roosevelt Row. First, we are undertaking a community-driven process to articulate a clear vision for the future of the area and to identify short-term, mid-term and long-term priorities, goals and strategies. Second, we are expanding our Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space (A.R.T.S.) Program to explore the use of shipping containers as a tool to create temporary in-fill lot activation and to provide space for the creation and presentation of art. Last, but not least, we are producing a major free public art event called “Feast on the Street” in partnership with the ASU Art Museum and other community partners with creative direction from artists Clare Patey from London and Matthew Moore from Phoenix.

ARTPLACE: How do you expect to increase vibrancy in the place you are working?

ESSER: We are incredibly fortunate to be working where we are today, in terms of people, place and time. Artists working together over the last decade have transformed this place from a blighted, crime-ridden area into a bustling, vibrant destination. Much of this has occurred organically and the energy has attracted new business and new development to the area, including the new $52 million Concord Eastridge housing and retail project in the heart of the district, the first new in-fill development downtown since the crash.

Other major milestones in the district over the last decade include the establishment of the biomedical campus and the University of Arizona’s medical school, the construction and opening of the ASU downtown campus and the opening of light rail in December, 2008 with the Arts District station at Central and Roosevelt being one of the busiest stations in the system.

Moving forward from here, we will increase vibrancy by building the infrastructure for innovation and creating more opportunities for more people to be engaged with creating the type of community they want to live in, work in and visit. We’re interested in fostering the kinds of places where people come together, connect and create. We’ve come a tremendous way over the last decade, and we want the coming decade to be even more dynamic.

We are also very excited to announce that we have received additional support through the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grant program. This support and these projects will help us get to the next level.

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