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June 23, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: First Fridays

  |   Video
  • Since their introduction more than two decades ago, First Friday art walks have become an important part of downtown Phoenix and its arts community. We’ll take a look at the evolution of First Fridays with a representative of Artlink, the group that started this Phoenix tradition.
  • Mike Oleskow - Artlink Interim President
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: arts,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" takes us to downtown Phoenix, where art and culture come alive every first Friday of the month.

Mike Sauceda: If you make it out early to Roosevelt row on first Friday, there's plenty to see as the crowd starts filtering in. The early birds can catch the best views of the murals, cool off at one of the dozens of quiet getaways nearby, or have a chance to chat with artists, vendors, and other colorful characters. But the show really starts at sunset, when musicians, painters, dancers, and other performers start carving out front yards, sand lots and sidewalk corners for a stage. While various shops and galleries begin to light up. One shop owner has used proceeds from a small organic garden co-op to start a boutique. Several artists have their work on display.

>> Basically we would rent the gallery to an artist every first Friday, and put that money back into the garden. So now it's a boutique, handmade and found, so there's vintage stuff. We do event night, that's kind of what it is.

Mike Sauceda: Another newer gallery takes you back to the days of 25 cent arcade and classic cartoons.

>> My earliest memory is riding my bike to the electric elephant with my dad. And then there's an arcade at the mall, which I went to every weekend. We don't really have a rule book. We just like who we like. There's no real specific -- what's popped out at us. Basically it's entitledled "strange magic" and it has a lot to do with the cartoons I watched. Especially growing up here, you got a treat like that. I've been doing first Friday for about 10 years.

>> I don't really meet a lot of artist who's grew up here. I meet a lot of imports. And a lot of people who come here and fall in love with the scene. It's really a unique area down here.

Mike Sauceda: Most of the big openings, musical acts center around Santa Rosa vet row, there's also plenty of sights to see off the beaten path. Whether you're looking for that perfect piece of decor, tasty street food, a good show, or just a chance to cool off after a long week, first Friday is the best destination downtown for families, dates, and groups of all sizes. Of course admission is always free.

Ted Simons: Here with more about first Fridays is Mike Oleskow, he is the interim president of Artlink, and an owner of the Afterhours gallery in Phoenix.

Mike Oleskow: We're at First Avenue and Mcdowell.

Ted Simons: Artlink really was the start of all this, wasn't it?

Mike Oleskow: It was. Just a little background, Artlink is the oldest volunteer-run, it's a nonprofit, it's a 501(c)3 arts organization. Probably 1989, I think we were talking some dates there earlier is when it started its first art detour. And that's when Phoenix was kind of new and young, and the arts scene was not as let's say expanded and as easily accessible as it is today. Pretty much most of it was downtown in the arts warehouse district. Think of the ice house, now we're at the -- where the stadiums are. Now it's pretty much spread all throughout what I'll call metro Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Who was behind the original effort?

Mike Oleskow: People like Beatrice Moore, who still is a gallery owner, and she has property along Grand Avenue. Which is one of the main thoroughfares of first Fridays and third Fridays. You also have Roosevelt row, there are quite a few. I don't have all the names, I'm still kind of new at this.

Ted Simons: It's interesting, you mentioned Grand Avenue. Back in the old days, it seemed like as you mentioned Jackson Street and that area was ground zero, we get up to Roosevelt, that becomes ground zero, which still is, but Grand Avenue becomes a major factor as well. It seems as though the focus of concentration moves every once in a while.

Mike Oleskow: Not only moves, it kind of expands. It kind of evolves. So you have galleries that will open and close, businesses open and close, it's pretty much what the economy is doing. But I see it expanding more North. So you have Melrose, galleries out to the artery, which is at Indian School and seventh. So it is taking a larger footprint than it has before.

Ted Simons: Casual observer looks at Roosevelt on first Friday and remembers when it was almost mayhem. Almost chaos. It was just jammed, the street was closed, people were vendors here and things were there. Seems a little more in control, a little more sedate now. Some would say things are cooling off. Is that true?

Mike Oleskow: I wouldn't say it's cooling off. Especially with the summer coming. But it does slow down a little bit in the summer, and the crowds are starting to not be quite as large, because we also have third Fridays now. So the first Friday crowd, which tends to be skewed a little younger, maybe a little more toward party, is now being replaced somewhat on the third Friday with a little more serious arts buyers and some people who want to explore the area at another time beyond first Friday.

Ted Simons: So is third Friday now catching on more than it has?

Mike Oleskow: It is catching on quite a bit. You'll find a lot of the galleries are doing openings on third Fridays as well. So we have quite a few openings this first Friday, July 1st. So it's definitely worth checking out. But I recommend that people see an area and maybe go back another area at a different time. So go to Roosevelt, go to Grand, go to Melrose, go to some of the galleries that are north of McDowell and just check them out.

Ted Simons: A couple of things I noticed of late. Something called the arts market. What is that?

Mike Oleskow: The arts market is something that Roosevelt row has created. They're taking empty lots that were along Roosevelt and turning them into vendor spaces. So they will have vendors there, they'll have food trucks, and entertainment, music, and making what was just an empty lot, now a fun exciting place to go.

Ted Simons: Those folks have to get license or permits.

Mike Oleskow: Roosevelt row is handling that. They're having a summer special. The vendors are getting a 50% discount for first and third Fridays.

Ted Simons: Is that something to the community builder’s agreement?

Mike Oleskow: I can't say I know about that one.

Ted Simons: It sounds to me somewhat similar.

Mike Oleskow: It could be.

Ted Simons: The whole pop-up gallery idea. Where do we take first Fridays from here? When the weather gets Bretter and the kids come back to school, I'm guessing the crowds will increase as well. But it seems like a very changing sort of thing.

Mike Oleskow: It is a changing sort of thing. Let me take you through the summer first. We are going on hiatus with the shuttles. It's kind of the focal point at the art museum. The Phoenix art museum is the central hub for Artlink and where we provide information and maps. Here's an example of one of the maps. The inside of the Downtown Phoenix Journal. Not only does it provide information on the galleries and studios, but it has restaurants and businesses, and everything you need to do on first Friday. That is still available. At the art museum on first Fridays. But the shuttles will be on hiatus July and August. Hope to pick up September.

Ted Simons: And full stride again in September.

Mike Oleskow: Full stride again.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Mike Oleskow: I appreciate it.

The American Dream of Homeownership

  |   Video
  • Houses are more affordable than they’ve been for years, but buying a house can be challenging and some potential buyers are leery about jumping into the market. Hear what experts have to say about the current status of the American dream of owning a home.
  • Elliott Pollack - CEO, Elliot D. Pollack & Company
  • Jay Butler - ASU Real Estate Professor
  • Kristen Myers - Realtor
  • Catherine Reagor - Arizona Republic
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: Housing, economy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: About 55% of Phoenix homeowners have a mortgage that's higher than the value of their house. That's just one indicator of a real estate market that's hurting, but as David Majure reports, it's a market that still shows signs of life.

David Majure: Moving in, moving up. Moving out. The great American ideal of owning a home has taken some hits in recent years.

Elliott Pollack: The American dream has taken some left to the jaw. It's taken lefts to the jaw that has left the American consumer dazed but not out of the game.

David Majure: But the game has changed. In 2005 at the height of the hyper market just about anyone could get a loan.

Elliott Pollack: The classic example is there was some guy in California who picked cantaloupes for a living and made $14,000 a year and he qualified for a $700,000 house. Insanity. That is what got us here. That type of insanity.

David Majure: With so many buyers, the supply of houses plunged, and prices skyrocketed.

Elliott Pollack: We are on the other side of that now, where qualification requirements are so difficult, that you really have to be qualified.

David Majure: But if you are qualified, have a stable income and good credit, now is a great time to buy. Interest rates are low, and so are prices.

Jay Butler: Definitely they are. You can buy nice, family homes that have a couple years ago were 400,000, in the 200,000 range.

Kristen Myers: I'm going to be showing a four bedroom, three bath, in the main house with a one bedroom, one bath Casita. At the peak of the market this would go between 450-500. We had it listed for 235 before we got a contract on the short sale. Upstairs we have four bedrooms…

David Majure: Kirsten Meyers, a realtor in the north Phoenix community of Anthem, is seeing multiple offers on homes in the area.

Kristen Myers: I've had them recently with four, five, and six offers. And it can be a challenge because most of the offers are above list price. Bulk of the inventory seems to be short sales and bank-owned properties. Back when the market first started to go down, our inventory went up over 800 homes. We are now down under 140 homes active on the market right now. And that's in Anthem country club and Parkside combined. That's all price ranges.
David Majure: Lori Blaine is trying to buy this house in anthem.

Lori Blaine: We're trying to upgrade a little. We filled up our house really quickly.

David Majure: Her family's current home is under water. Instead of selling and losing money she hopes to rent it and move into a bigger place it.

Lori Blaine: makes me nervous to do this, but you really -- I want to make sure I'm getting what I'm paying for and that the market is not going to drop any lower. It's a scary time financially as far as the real estate.

David Majure: The metro Phoenix real estate market is scary for a lot of people. Economic uncertainties make even highly qualified buyers a little leery.

Elliott Pollack: The reason they're leery is uncertainty in the job market, they probably saw their 401(k) hit, they saw -- they see the house they had or the house their parents own December mated in terms of value. And they're nervous.

Jay Butler: There's a group who believes the bottom has not been reached yet. And that they don't want to make that commitment. I'm convinced we're close to the bottom. If not at the bottom.

Elliott Pollack: If you take a look at this green line, which is housing prices, it went way up and came way down, housing prices have been flat for the past four to six months, which to me says we're probably at the bottom.

David Majure: Investors must think we're pretty close.

Elliott Pollack: About 40% of homes are being purchased by investors. They're really providing a need.

David Majure: In some cases they rent them out to victims of foreclosure or people who had to short sale their homes.

Elliott Pollack: Allowing people to stay in the same neighborhood, same school district, kid keeps the same friends, they're very stable people who were caught in a bad situation.

David Majure: A bad situation that will get better. And while the American dream has been bloodied and bruised, it's far from being down for the count.

Ted Simons: Joining me now to share her insights into the valley's housing market is Catherine Reagor, she's the real estate and growth reporter for "The Arizona Republic." Good to see you again. What do you see happening to the American dream of homeownership?

Catherine Reagor: You know, there are a lot of renters right now. And a lot more people who want to rent. Because number one, they don't know what their jobs, jobs are mobile. Homes are not mobile. So you don't know. But our homes are selling. We are more than 9,000 last month, which is up. Most of them are investors. And then they are renting them out. But seeing younger groups, not wanting to buy, holding back, so homeownership has changed. It's not what it was for us 10 years ago.

Ted Simons: And we've got how many, how long has this housing crisis been going on?

Catherine Reagor: Five years. It's our five-year anniversary of pain.

Ted Simons: And is there any end in sight of the pain?

Catherine Reagor: Well, a lot of the indicators are going in the right way. Pre-foreclosures are down, down significantly, like half of what they were two years ago. Foreclosures are down. The number of pending foreclosures in the system, down almost a half what they were a couple years ago.

Ted Simons: We've talked about this before -- are the banks hold OK to these things? Are we going to see a flood of this stuff coming later on?
Catherine Reagor: We were concerned about that. This funny word, scary word, shadow inventory, where homes that haven't been foreclose order that could be, and are in the system and the homeowners are behind. We are in better shape than Las Vegas, Sacramento, Orlando, for shadow inventories than those areas. So we don't have as much at that scare looming. And the number of homeowners under water is dropping because they're getting out. And that's how it is. It's not the home loan modifications that are saving us. It's that if you couldn't afford your home, you're probably gone by now, and you're renting.

Ted Simons: What is this doing to the renters' market?

Catherine Reagor: It is getting much more competitive. And boy, if you can -- those foreclosure sales on those -- the courthouse steps, they are buyers from around the world. Because they can rent. And they can buy a home for $60,000, rent it for $800 and make more on their money than they can make in the bank or in the course of the stock market.

Ted Simons: You mentioned $60-70,000, I think I heard jaws dropping in the studio. The median price, average price, both, are they still falling, are they -- what have we got?

Catherine Reagor: We have all these prices, and they're measured different ways. If you just look at the median price of used existing homes, it has held steady at 115,000, I know that's a sad number, but held steady for six months. That is the most stability in prices we have had in a long time. Now, some groups, including the realtors groups are saying we could dip again, and we could have a triple-dip. But the people who are looking at the numbers every day do not see that, and the investors buying those homes, at the foreclosure auctions, bidding wars. And we saw from the video, multiple offers. Homes selling for regular asking prices. And with all these other indicators going the right way, listings are way down. It doesn't make sense that we would have another big drop. It just doesn't. Who knew what was going to happen in '05-06, but this doesn't make sense for another big drop.

Ted Simons: With everything you're seeing, how does that impact the new home market?

Catherine Reagor: New home market is struggling. Boom 64 thousand now 13 thousand. Some interesting things coming out. Builders competing with foreclosures by smaller homes, and the new thing is, green homes. Environmental homes. And if you don't have to pay for the extras in an environmental home, and your utility bill is half of what it would be in a foreclosure home, people are buying. And home builders are seeing that. That's our new kind of trend niche. But it's going to be slow for a while. We've got to get rid of the home building for a while. We've got to get rid of the foreclosures.

Ted Simons: A couple things being kicked around in Washington regarding changes in policy, one involves the interest rate deductions, which have been a tradition for home buyers. And there is some talk, because of the deficit, to go ahead and take those away. How much of an impact would that be?

Catherine Reagor: Huge. And please don't do it. Don't you feel -- I feel like please don't do it. I need that. It would be huge. It would impact home buying, and the deficit is a horrible problem, but it would also impact -- how much money do people save on that? And when your tax refund comes back, and you're spending that money, and of course the realtors, the home builders and their powerful lobbyists are fighting it tooth and nail.

Ted Simons: Another idea was 20% down, requiring 20% down on home purchases. First of all, is that viable, and second, if so, what happens?

Catherine Reagor: You know, when I bought my first home I didn't have 20% to put down. Did you? I don't know, very few people did. It seems like a great thing to think you're getting a home -- they have a stake, they're not going to walk away 40. But on the other hand, how many people have 20% down?

Ted Simons: So bottom line here, I think I've asked you this almost every time you were on, are we seeing some sort of light at the edge of the forest?

Catherine Reagor: I think we are. The analysts I talk to say yes. If 115 is bouncing around the bottom, we're on the bottom, but the other indicators are improving. So that shows when I'm -- what I'm hearing, we could possibly see slight price increases this year.

Ted Simons: All right. Many let's see what gives. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Catherine Reagor: Thank you.

Westgate City Center

  |   Video
  • Westgate City Center is facing foreclosure, and Glendale Shopping Complex near the Cardinals Football Stadium has been scheduled for auction.
  • Mike Sunnucks - Phoenix Business Journal
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: glendale, economy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: Westgate city center is facing foreclosure. On Monday, the Ellman Company announced the Glendale shopping complex near the Cardinals football stadium and the coyotes hockey arena has been scheduled for auction. Here with more on the story is Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal. Is this foreclosure, is this a surprise?

Mike Sunnucks: A little bit, but not a total surprise. There's been a lot of projects in the valley on the west side, other places that have faced this. It's basically a warning, they'll probably set a date for an auction, and if the Ellman companies entities that own the land and property can't work something out, you'll have a foreclosure auction, similar to what you see with homes. The economy really challenged things out there. Obviously the Coyotes situation comes to play, about the growth didn't really happen the way they had hoped.

Ted Simons: Give us a history, become ground of Westgate. What was -- what it was designed to do, what it started to do and how it's developed, or lack thereof.

Mike Sunnucks: It was built as the entertainment retail anchor of the west valley, next to the arena and the Cardinals stadium. There's movie theaters there, some of the restaurants have done OK. But they had hoped for more growth right around there. People, it didn't happen because of the collapse, so the foot traffic never quite came to fruition. And they might have hoped to get big box stores. Think Tempe marketplace, desert ridge where you have the restaurants and bars, but you also have best buy, target. That draws people in when there's not an event. When there's games or concerts, it's fine. The challenge is when there's no events during the day, it doesn't have the traffic you see maybe at some of the other places.

Ted Simons: Did the performance record change over time? Is it worse now than it had been? Even the downturn in the economy, last year or two, things get worse?

Mike Sunnucks: They've been trying to find some other uses. DeVry University has located a campus there for some of their classes. There's restaurants that have done OK, and the movie theaters have done OK, but there's never been a big retail component that glommed on to that. They had competition from other developments around there, obviously the economy impacted this. You can't ignore that. And stuff up on bell road, the arrowhead area, where there's a lot of types of stores already. So it got squeezed in a lot of different sides.

Ted Simons: Who owns this property? These are two separate Ellman companies?

Mike Sunnucks: Yes. Steve Ellman moved the coyotes out there, swapped interest in the coyotes with Jerry Moyes. And he has some different types of companies, he owns a billboard company, which is doing pretty well, and he owns these things. And so these are all Ellman entities that are involved in this.

Ted Simons: Are these other entities insulated from this particular move?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, they're LLCs. The Bidwell family had a parcel near the stadium, they were going to build a skyscraper, office tower, not too far from Westgate. The economy tanked, they got foreclosed on, it's totally separate from their other entities.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the Coyotes situation. You mentioned that earlier as being a factor. How much of a factor is that, and if tomorrow we found out that there was a sale of the coyotes, does that make that much of a difference on a Westgate shopping center?

Mike Sunnucks: A the bit. I think it hurt a little bit. The success of the team the past few years helped attendance, but attendance was down. It doesn't help, but you still see folks in there when there's a game. Especially when they're playing one of the Canadian teams, a team with a lot of fans, the red wings. Those people go out to eat. So the coyotes situation, the uncertainty, the low attendance overall doesn't help things out there.

Ted Simons: Talk about future impact of what could be going out there. What's planned for going out there, and now does that get hurt by this announcement?

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah. These things can't help things. It creates uncertainty. If you're a business looking to locate, you may think twice. Ellman was talking to Tangor outlet malls about locating a 400,000-square-foot mall on some land at Westgate. They can still land there. That would be a big win because you'd have people drawn in there for something besides games or concerts. That's been the key. They haven't been able to make it a magnet other than Sundays or when there's a concert.

Ted Simons: Talk more about that. The idea that Glendale had for this to be a magnet, to be retail, some sort of entertainment and sporting hub. This has to hurt that. It seems like they're taking hit after hit out there.

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah. You had the main street Glendale project that was a similar type of projects, offices, golf courses, resorts. Never happened. The Bidwell thing never happened. They're fighting the casino; obviously they've been involved in the coyotes, so they've taken a lot of hits. Glendale wanted to make the west valley into more of an employment hub, an entertainment hub where people go. They wanted to be farmland -- this was a centerpiece to that, and this is a step back.

Ted Simons: So basically do we have any time table here regarding them getting something together or the foreclosure going through?

Mike Sunnucks: Ellman could still work something out. Just talking to him and his folks it doesn't sound that way, but sometimes these things work themselves out. The lender will look at their options, they could take the property back, somebody else could buy it or they could work something out with Ellman. The movie theaters will stay open, the stores will be open. No date yet on the sale. Sometimes these things get extended while they try to work something else. We'll see if he works something out or is ready to move on.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.