Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 22, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Growing Pains


  • Part two of three Some people are taking a big city approach and moving into high-rise condos. HORIZON examines the growing trend.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Director, KAET-ASU Poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, KAET-ASU Poll


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," President Bush's job approval ratings are at their lowest point ever. That, and other findings in our KAET/ASU poll. Plus, some areas of the valley skyline are on the verge of drastic changes with the addition of high-rise condos. We continue our series looking at the direction of Arizona growth. Those stories next on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." President Bush has registered his lowest poll rating ever in our survey. Most people think the state is going in the right direction, but not the country. Those are some of the results of the latest KAET/Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University poll. The poll of 419 registered Arizona voters conducted November 17 through the 20. It has a sampling error of 4.8\%. I'll talk to the poll director and his assistant about the poll, but first here are the results.

>> Mike Sauceda:
President Bush's approval rating is at its lowest point ever in the KAET/ASU poll, dropping 5\% since last month. 40\% approve of the job he's doing. 54\% disapprove. 50\% of those we surveyed think President Bush mislead the public about prewar intelligence on Iraq in order to build support for the war. 44\% think he did not mislead the public. President Bush's administration has been lobbying against a ban on torture in the war against terrorism. 55\% of those we surveyed support the ban on torture. 36\% oppose banning torture as a way to get information about potential terrorism. We asked participants if the country is headed in the right direction. 37\% said yes. 53\% said no. We also asked if Arizona is headed in the right direction. 62\% said yes. 24\% said no.

>> Michael Grant:
Joining me to talk about those results is the poll director, Bruce Merrill, and Tara Blanc, assistant poll director. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Same to you, Michael. And to our volunteers, Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for their help.

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks again. It was, what, Thursday -- it was last weekend, Thursday through Saturday.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Saturday, Sunday.

>> Michael Grant:
Yeah, I know I saw you toiling away in the giant studio A. You know, I'm trying to come up with new ways to say, so the President's approval rating is dropping, and I think I'm running out of new twists on this, but this is the lowest in Arizona.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Remember, Arizona is a moderate republican state, and I think more than anything, Michael, what this is, is simply the fact that there's been so much negative news that people have access to. You have the war going badly. You have the hurricane situation. You have high gas prices. You have the scandals going on in Washington. And to some degree the polls simply measure what people are seeing in the media. I think that's a big part of his low ratings.

>> Michael Grant: Tara, it certainly has been, and it's really been compressed over the past three months really, starting with Hurricane Katrina, as Bruce has pointed out, it's just been a series of very bad stories for the administration. And people, obviously, their opinions are formed by what they're hearing and reading sometimes over and over again.

>> Tara Blanc:
Well, that's true. Bush has gotten a lot of bad news lately between the hurricanes and things going on with the war and so on. What's interesting, is when we looked at the questions that we ask about people's feelings about the way the state is headed and the country is headed, you saw the same kind of effect. Where only about 43\% of the people thought, think the country is headed in the right direction. There were almost 3/4 of the people we talked to think the state is going in the right direction. Think about the news we've had at the state level. You know, the economy's good. We've got a popular governor. There are a lot of things going on.

>> Michael Grant:
People are going to fight over $750 million budget surplus next year.

>> Tara Blanc:
Exactly. So we've had a lot of good news at the state level as opposed to more bad news at the federal level. I think you see that reflected in those kinds of opinions, where people don't feel like things are going well. We've had so much bad news. Bush ran his second campaign not so much on the issues, but on being a leader and being a tough leader. And he's had some real challenges in that respect over the last several months. I think it's reflected in people's opinion on how good a job he's doing.

>> Michael Grant:
Is part of this what source people get their news from? I mean, if you're a supporter of President Bush, are you maybe watching different stations than opponents?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I don't think it's different stations, but it's certainly what we call selective perception. In fact, when Tara and I ran the numbers, I think about 80\% of the republicans think the country's going in a good direction, and they're supporting Bush, but when you ask democrats it's only 15\% of the Democrats. So -

>> Michael Grant:
So it breaks heavily along party lines.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Oh, it breaks heavily along party lines and along the social conservative versus social liberal lines. Very, very clearly, the people who go to church, the pro-life people, are very, very different than the secular people that don't go to church and they're pro-choice. So you do have big divisions in there.

>> Michael Grant:
Is there a -- is there a curse on the President's second terms? It certainly seems in the past 50 years or so that -- that -- you know, sometimes you say, "Boy, I bet you wish you hadn't won that second term."

>> Bruce Merrill:
Just for a quick answer to that, is remember that in our system, you can't run again, so as soon as they're elected for the second term they're dead meat in many ways.

>> Michael Grant:
Right.

>> Bruce Merrill:
So that's a big problem in our system of government.

>> Michael Grant:
But obviously Richard Nixon, with Watergate, Ronald Reagan with Iran/Contra, Bill Clinton, that incident with Monica Lewinsky.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Whatever that was.

>> Michael Grant:
Really, it seems -- you ought to write a book on the curse of the second term.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I think Tara ought to write that book. [laughter]

>> Michael Grant:
Tara, when there is bad news, does it tend to fixate on the President and people's reactions? Maybe more than it should, but, I mean, you know, he's the number one guy, and so he gets all the blame.

>> Tara Blanc: Yeah, I think that's really true. Obviously the President can't control the weather, but the things that happen that are related to hurricanes and so on and so forth, we need somebody to look at and say, "you need to be responsible, somebody needs to be responsible." well, you start with the guy at the top. And I think people do push a lot of things toward the President, whether he -- he's actually responsible or can control things or did a good job or didn't do a good thing. If things are going badly, he gets the blame.

>> Bruce Merrill:
That's obviously the downside. On the other hand, the President has a lot of advantages, for example, over Congress, from the standpoint it speaks from the single voice, not 535 people, and those kinds of things.

>> Tara Blanc:
And much more recognizable, too.

>> Michael Grant:
One of the logical questions, here, Bruce, because J.D. Hayworth was talking about it on "Imus in the Morning" a couple of weeks ago is just whether or not this impacts some of the races next year, whether or not you want the President in the state of Arizona on your behalf. Obviously the Jon Kyl/Peterson race comes to mind. What do you think?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I really don't believe that people are going to vote for a United States senator in Arizona depending on whether or not Bush is popular or not, or he comes to Arizona or not. People have a little bit more sophistication than that, but the significance of these people that will be coming in -- remember, last week Peterson had Obama -- I can tell you whether it's Obama coming in for Peterson or the President coming in for Kyl- the biggest thing they'll do for these candidates is raise a ton of money. They have a lot of private parties or gatherings, where they ask people to come.

>> Michael Grant:
Fundraisers.

>> Bruce Merrill:
I would bet that both of them raised probably close to a million dollars, or at least several hundred thousands for both campaigns. So you're going to see now, with this very intense race between these two, you're going to see a lot of very popular Democrats coming in. You'll probably have the former President in here. And you're going to see a lot of the more popular Republicans coming in.

>> Michael Grant:
Tara, does the result on misleading the public about pre-war intelligence, does that question also tend to break along party lines?

>> Tara Blanc:
Very much so. I believe it was about 80\% of the people who were Republicans still support the President and said that they believed that he was telling the truth. Again about 15\% of the democrats felt that -- only 15\% felt he was telling the truth. And independents were somewhere around 34\%, 35\%. So it's Republicans, the social conservatives, that tend to support him. It breaks very much along party lines.

>> Michael Grant:
Bruce, we touched on this, but let's go back to it. The majority of Arizonans think that the state's headed in the right direction. I guess if the President gets the blame for a bad three-month run, will that attitude tend to help governor Janet Napolitano, for example, more than the legislature?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Sure. Let's put it this way -- if I were Janet Napolitano up for re-election, I would rather run at a time when things are really good than when things are bad. As Tara pointed out, it's kind of like a quarterback. When things go well, then the quarterback gets the credit. When things don't go well, the quarterback gets the blame. That's pretty much what happens with people like the President and the Governor. You know, part of it is just good luck, Mike. I mean, things happen to be good right now when she's going to be running, and that's going to help her a lot.

>> Michael Grant:
Boy, I don't know that retailers should be real happy with the result on people's Christmas expectations.

>> Tara Blanc:
57\%, 60\% of the people said they're going to spend about the same as last year. You're looking at kind of even. But twice as many people who answered the other way said they'll spend less, about 28\%, and only 12\% said they'd spend more.

>> Michael Grant:
Probably being driven in part about some of the uncertainty about the economy, higher oil prices, those kinds of things.

>> Tara Blanc:
The gas prices especially. I hear people talk about the fact they feel they're spending so much on things like gas and other things, that they tonight have the kind of disposable income they've had the in the past. It has effected us.

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks to the volunteers. Tara Blanc, our thanks to you.

>> Tara Blanc:
Thank you very much.

>> Michael Grant:
Bruce Merrill, always a pleasure.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Good to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Both of you have a great Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

>> Tara Blanc:
You too.

>> Michael Grant:
This week in our series "Growing Pains" we're taking a look at the different directions in which the Valley is growing. Yesterday we took a look at what some call edge growth and others call just plain sprawl. Tonight, a trend not to build out, but up. High-rise condo developments are under way in valley urban areas. Some others are proposed in some areas typically known as suburban. In a moment more on the phenomena of vertical living. First Merry Lucero looks at why more people could be requesting a room with a view.

>> Merry Lucero:
From the penthouse balcony patio of this midtown Phoenix high-rise the view of the Valley is spectacular. This and other amenities of high-rise living are bringing real estate agent Will Daly more than 100 calls a week from people interested in high-rise properties. At one time his high-rise clients were mostly retirees. Daly says that has changed.

>> Will Daly:
Today we do have retirees interested in high-rise, but also have buyers who are students at ASU. We've got people in their 30's and 40's. I'm in my 40's. People of all ages.

>> Merry Lucero:
Daly specializes in urban properties. He lives here at Crystal Point and loves it.

>> Will Daly:
First and foremost is probably location. The majority of the new builds are walking distance from shopping and restaurants and bars and clubs, etc. But over and above that are things that most people don't think about. In this building, particularly in some of the other buildings, they offer things that make my life easier.

>> Merry Lucero:
Owners enjoy conveniences like a concierge, 24-hour security and no yard or pool maintenance. High-rise living is not new in the valley. Crystal Point was built in 1990. This penthouse, which is not Daly's, is clearly a luxury unit, but more high-rise condos at a variety of prices are being built, even first-time homebuyers have options.

>> Will Daly:
They generally have to buy smaller. All right? They're buying 700, 800, 900 square feet. If they were buying a single-family home, they'd be at 1500, 1600, 1800 square feet. There's still affordability. Prices have gone up a lot over the last year, but there are options on the horizon. Condo conversions, stuff like that. Some high-rise office buildings and high-rise apartment buildings are converting to condos.

>> Merry Lucero:
Prices generally range from the $300,000's on up and they're not just in downtown Phoenix anymore. A year ago high-rise residential buildings were sparse. Today high-rise residential in areas across the Valley, some unexpected areas like Mesa and Chandler, are sprouting vertically.

>> Will Daly:
I think for the most part you have a couple major hubs. You've got the Camelback corridor. Downtown Scottsdale. And Tempe. And then Phoenix is rapidly becoming another core for high-rise.

>> Merry Lucero:
In Tempe, condo projects like the Edgewater are under construction, and one of the biggest current projects of its kind is being built, Avenue Communities Centerpoint Condominiums, one 22-floor and three 30-floor towers with more than 800 units will eventually be on this 5-acre site off mill avenue.

>> Ken Losch:
In Tempe, we've run out of land. The opportunity now is to only go up. That's the only opportunity there is. In the Mill Avenue district, the mayor, Hugh Hallman, and his council have determined this area to be a high-intensity area, so the Centerpoint Condominium community is one of the first opportunities to express that.

>> Merry Lucero:
But not everyone is happy about this type of development. Some worry if urban infrastructure can handle the volume.

>> Ken Losch:
It's always sort of a work in progress. You have to upgrade your services as you add residents over time. And that will be the same thing for the Mill Avenue district, as we add, you know, many more homes, we'll be also adding more sewer capacity, more water capacity. You know, traffic will be somewhat addressed with the metro system opening up in a couple of years.

>> Merry Lucero:
And some neighbors have complained about the urbanization of the area. In Tempe, Avenue Communities is working to address concerns.

>> Ken Losch:
To go to 30 stories from 22, we've visited with all the neighborhoods. We've canvassed over almost 200 homes to get input, feedback directly, and, you know, quite frankly, have had overwhelming support. We've only had about eight people who have opposed us in those reviews, and we've had dozens and dozens who have given us their -- you know, their blessing and encouragement.

>> Merry Lucero:
And as the Valley's population continues to grow, the vertical growth phenomenon isn't likely to slow down.

>> Will Daly:
It's bringing people to the core. And it starts to make -- it starts to narrow our boundaries, where before our boundaries were limitless. And all the urban sprawl, but I also think issues about the environment are starting to come in to our dialogue. I think that a sense of community is coming into our dialogue. I think the idea of driving less is important to people.

>> Ken Losch:
I mean, it's really a pent-up demand that's been here for some time. Now the Valley's expressing it. And, you know, places like 22nd and Camelback and 24th and Camelback, with the Esplanade, and our Third Avenue lofts community, the first concrete mid-rise in downtown Scottsdale, which has been highly successful, and then, you know, communities like this. You know, this is here to stay. It's a lifestyle. We're running out of land. And there's this huge opportunity to address that pent-up demand for people who want this kind of lifestyle.

>> Michael Grant:
Here with more on the vertical growth trend, Wellington Reiter, dean of ASU's College of Design, and Brian Kearney President of the downtown Phoenix partnership. Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

>> Happy to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
You know, Brian, it is worth reiterating, that this isn't the first time we've had people living in-- I'm not sure whether you call them tall buildings, but kind of tall.

>> Brian Kearney:
Tall for here.

>> Michael Grant:
Buildings for here.

>> Brian Kearney:
It's not. I think, you know, you've got to go back several decades, I think, and there was sort of a mini boom, if you will, of high-rise living. You see evidence of that on Central Avenue with some of the older high-rise apartment and condo buildings there. But -- and then there was a few projects scattered here and there between, say, the 1950's and 1960's, and the boom year seeing now, but what we're seeing now is completely different than anything in the past, and something that I think will be more sustainable as we walk through the future.

>> Michael Grant:
We walked through some of the projects in the tape package. This one's pretty widespread. I mean, there are a lot of projects in different areas.

>> Brian Kearney:
It is. I mean, what you're seeing is -- primarily it's happening in the urban cores around the Valley. Certainly in downtown Phoenix, which I happen to be partial to, obviously. We're seeing, you know, well over 1,000 units that are under construction or very close to being under construction at this point in time. So you see it in downtown Phoenix. You see it in the 24th street and Camelback area, downtown Tempe, and to a lesser degree in terms of height, but certainly there are a number of urban projects that you might call mid-rise projects in downtown Scottsdale as well. Surprisingly because of the popularity that this product is having in the urban areas, you're even seeing a smattering of it here and there in very suburban areas, in the Mesa area as well as near the Chandler mall. So again, I wouldn't call those high-rise projects, but certainly a more urban character than what you're typically seeing in the master plan communities in suburban areas.

>> Michael Grant:
Wellington, is it a trend or is it a blip? Is it today's, you know, 33rd flavor and it will be gone?

>> Wellington Reiter:
That's a little hard to know at this moment, because while there's a lot of smoke, there's not a whole lot of fire. There are people talking about these projects, and I think in your tape it showed that some of actually beginning to come out of the ground, but there's a lot of proving still to be done with regard to how many of these towers actually come in to being. I think it's a little hard to say at the moment.

>> Michael Grant:
What are some of the reasons for it?

>> Wellington Reiter:
Well, I think you've got different populations moving here, to the valley. If we're going to attract the knowledge workers that are going to drive the new kinds of businesses and research enterprises you want to see in the Phoenix area, those people are typically coming from other urbanized areas, lifestyles they'd like to see here. As a dean of a College, I'm trying to attract faculty members here, I have often the case where people say, "Where's the loft district, the downtown area? I think I'd like to live there." They're used to that kind of living and seeking it out.

>> Michael Grant:
Tempe has been trying to put that together obviously for quite some time.

>> Wellington Reiter:
They have. And while you suggested that many of these projects are happening broadly in the area, where they're happening is quite predictable, because on the ground there are amenities for these people when they come out of these taller buildings that they want to be near. There are bookstores, cafes, restaurants, other kinds of retail. It has to do with what's around these taller buildings. Not just being in the building itself.

>> Brain Kearney:
The other thing I'd point to in terms of why it's happening, I think, demographics are changing across the country. And, you know, we're clearly seeing the aging -- the baby boomer generation. I think for the first time in our history we have more households without kids than we have with kids. And so that's creating a fairly deep market for an urban product that really didn't exist before, when everyone was looking for family housing. Because it's not the families that are buying these condos. So we're seeing an older generation that is looking for this type of a lifestyle, as well as we're seeing in the Y generation, a younger generation, looking for the amenities of an urban lifestyle. So the demographics I think are playing very well into what you're seeing right now.

>> Michael Grant:
In fact, I wonder if this isn't kind of the backside of the popularity of townhouses and condominiums in the 1970's, maybe the early 1980's, when the Baby Boom generation was younger, then they made the decision, "Well, you know, the kids, you need a backyard, front yard, just like mom and dad." Now the kids are gone, and they say, "Well, hold it, I'd just as soon as not mow the lawn anymore."

>> Brian Kearney:
That's exactly right. If you're still of working age, they're generally closer to their work, they're closer to the amenities of an urban environment. As Duke was just referring to, whether it's a shopping or restaurant, the culture, the entertainment, the sports. They can have a lock and leave mentality, if you will. You want to go on a trip, you just lock the key and you're gone and you don't have to worry about the lawn and papers on the driveway, that type of thing. I think that's very attractive for a large segment of the population. The younger side of it, the Y generation, or millennium generation, if you will, there's some overlap there, but I think they like the late-night activities, all the people that are around, the excitement, the hustle, the bustle. So there's some common things that they're looking for, but I think there's differences that urban areas provide to both sets of generations.

>> Michael Grant:
So Wellington, you touched on this point. I want to go back to it and sort of build on it a little bit. What's the chicken and what's the egg? I'm getting the impression from you that you are not going to just plunk one of these buildings down in the middle of nowhere and draw to it things.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Absolutely not.

>> Michael Grant:
It's more the opposite of that?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think very much so. I think that the areas that we've talked about, whether it be in Scottsdale, 24th and Camelback, downtown Phoenix, Tempe, there's already -- if not something happening -- the suggestion that something quite powerful is going to happen in that area, thus making the idea of vertical living very attractive. I think the idea of tall buildings happening in remote locations is not feasible for a lot of reasons.

>> Michael Grant:
Million dollar question -- does downtown Phoenix have that kind of thing?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think there's a strong belief. And Brian works on this every day. I think there's a strong belief that Phoenix is about -- downtown Phoenix -- is about to have a very significant moment with the arrival of the ASU campus. And suddenly light rail. We're talking about a very sophisticated form of transportation. One could see vertical buildings as the parallel to that kind of transportation, such that you could live on -- you could actually live entirely on Central Avenue. You could live in a high-rise, commute to work on that light rail, be downtown near the University, near your business, go back home, be near a restaurant. I think that one could very much imagine an urban lifestyle that includes verticality.

>> Brian Kearney:
Michael, I have to chime in on this.

>> Michael Grant:
I figured you would.

>> Brian Kearney:
We think there's no doubt that downtown Phoenix does offer the type of amenities and lifestyle that people looking at this product are looking for. And Duke mentioned ASU and light rail. You've got the U.A. Medical School, the bioscience activity, all the existing arts and cultural amenities, the restaurant base. We've already seen success. We've added about 1600 units in the last -- residential units -- in the last 10 years in the downtown area. We have over 1,000 under construction right now. So I think the proof is in the pudding. People are moving to downtown. People are staying downtown. And we're seeing more and more interest every day. And as all these things start to happen, the amenities base is only going to grow larger. More restaurants, more retail, more activities. And more people on the street. That's what people are looking for.

>> Wellington Reiter:
I would say what's important about this, it's not the vertical living they're looking for, it's everything Brian just described, which has, too, an aspect to it that includes density. And that's why you have these buildings of condominiums, of 20, 30, maybe even 40 stories downtown.

>> Michael Grant:
Challenge in some areas on the infrastructure?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think there's no doubt that's true, but it's certainly feasible. If Phoenix is going to call itself the fifth largest city in the United States, its infrastructure has to be capable to sustain such a claim. I think that can be overcome.

>> Michael Grant:
You may see torn up sidewalks and stuff, though.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Well, you're talking to someone who lived through 20 years of the big dig in Boston, so what I'm seeing here is relatively minor by comparison. That city didn't shut down. Yeah, torn up sidewalks and cranes in the air would be a good sign that Phoenix is coming into its own.

>> Michael Grant:
Wellington Reiter, thank you very much for joining us.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Glad to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Brian Kearney, thank you for being here.

>> Brian Kearney:
Thanks for having me.

>> Michael Grant:
We continue our series on growth tomorrow.

>> Mike Sauceda:
As the Valley continues to grow, not only the growth is going to the outskirts. Smaller housing developments are being built in the core of the city, throughout the Valley, not just in Phoenix. Although the houses may cost more in the city, there are advantages. Learn more about infill housing Wednesday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Yesterday was spreading, today was going up, and tomorrow infill. Hope you can join us. Thank you very much for being here this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

KAET-ASU Poll


  • President Bush's approval ratings have hit an all-time low. The latest KAET-ASU Poll reveals how Arizonans feel about the President. Also, we asked Arizona voters if they think the nation and the state are headed in the right direction. Join Poll Director Bruce Merrill and his assistant Tara Blanc for an analysis. Complete poll results.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Director, KAET-ASU Poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, KAET-ASU Poll
Category: Cronkite-Eight Poll

View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," President Bush's job approval ratings are at their lowest point ever. That, and other findings in our KAET/ASU poll. Plus, some areas of the valley skyline are on the verge of drastic changes with the addition of high-rise condos. We continue our series looking at the direction of Arizona growth. Those stories next on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." President Bush has registered his lowest poll rating ever in our survey. Most people think the state is going in the right direction, but not the country. Those are some of the results of the latest KAET/Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University poll. The poll of 419 registered Arizona voters conducted November 17 through the 20. It has a sampling error of 4.8\%. I'll talk to the poll director and his assistant about the poll, but first here are the results.

>> Mike Sauceda:
President Bush's approval rating is at its lowest point ever in the KAET/ASU poll, dropping 5\% since last month. 40\% approve of the job he's doing. 54\% disapprove. 50\% of those we surveyed think President Bush mislead the public about prewar intelligence on Iraq in order to build support for the war. 44\% think he did not mislead the public. President Bush's administration has been lobbying against a ban on torture in the war against terrorism. 55\% of those we surveyed support the ban on torture. 36\% oppose banning torture as a way to get information about potential terrorism. We asked participants if the country is headed in the right direction. 37\% said yes. 53\% said no. We also asked if Arizona is headed in the right direction. 62\% said yes. 24\% said no.

>> Michael Grant:
Joining me to talk about those results is the poll director, Bruce Merrill, and Tara Blanc, assistant poll director. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Same to you, Michael. And to our volunteers, Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for their help.

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks again. It was, what, Thursday -- it was last weekend, Thursday through Saturday.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Saturday, Sunday.

>> Michael Grant:
Yeah, I know I saw you toiling away in the giant studio A. You know, I'm trying to come up with new ways to say, so the President's approval rating is dropping, and I think I'm running out of new twists on this, but this is the lowest in Arizona.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Remember, Arizona is a moderate republican state, and I think more than anything, Michael, what this is, is simply the fact that there's been so much negative news that people have access to. You have the war going badly. You have the hurricane situation. You have high gas prices. You have the scandals going on in Washington. And to some degree the polls simply measure what people are seeing in the media. I think that's a big part of his low ratings.

>> Michael Grant: Tara, it certainly has been, and it's really been compressed over the past three months really, starting with Hurricane Katrina, as Bruce has pointed out, it's just been a series of very bad stories for the administration. And people, obviously, their opinions are formed by what they're hearing and reading sometimes over and over again.

>> Tara Blanc:
Well, that's true. Bush has gotten a lot of bad news lately between the hurricanes and things going on with the war and so on. What's interesting, is when we looked at the questions that we ask about people's feelings about the way the state is headed and the country is headed, you saw the same kind of effect. Where only about 43\% of the people thought, think the country is headed in the right direction. There were almost 3/4 of the people we talked to think the state is going in the right direction. Think about the news we've had at the state level. You know, the economy's good. We've got a popular governor. There are a lot of things going on.

>> Michael Grant:
People are going to fight over $750 million budget surplus next year.

>> Tara Blanc:
Exactly. So we've had a lot of good news at the state level as opposed to more bad news at the federal level. I think you see that reflected in those kinds of opinions, where people don't feel like things are going well. We've had so much bad news. Bush ran his second campaign not so much on the issues, but on being a leader and being a tough leader. And he's had some real challenges in that respect over the last several months. I think it's reflected in people's opinion on how good a job he's doing.

>> Michael Grant:
Is part of this what source people get their news from? I mean, if you're a supporter of President Bush, are you maybe watching different stations than opponents?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I don't think it's different stations, but it's certainly what we call selective perception. In fact, when Tara and I ran the numbers, I think about 80\% of the republicans think the country's going in a good direction, and they're supporting Bush, but when you ask democrats it's only 15\% of the Democrats. So -

>> Michael Grant:
So it breaks heavily along party lines.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Oh, it breaks heavily along party lines and along the social conservative versus social liberal lines. Very, very clearly, the people who go to church, the pro-life people, are very, very different than the secular people that don't go to church and they're pro-choice. So you do have big divisions in there.

>> Michael Grant:
Is there a -- is there a curse on the President's second terms? It certainly seems in the past 50 years or so that -- that -- you know, sometimes you say, "Boy, I bet you wish you hadn't won that second term."

>> Bruce Merrill:
Just for a quick answer to that, is remember that in our system, you can't run again, so as soon as they're elected for the second term they're dead meat in many ways.

>> Michael Grant:
Right.

>> Bruce Merrill:
So that's a big problem in our system of government.

>> Michael Grant:
But obviously Richard Nixon, with Watergate, Ronald Reagan with Iran/Contra, Bill Clinton, that incident with Monica Lewinsky.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Whatever that was.

>> Michael Grant:
Really, it seems -- you ought to write a book on the curse of the second term.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I think Tara ought to write that book. [laughter]

>> Michael Grant:
Tara, when there is bad news, does it tend to fixate on the President and people's reactions? Maybe more than it should, but, I mean, you know, he's the number one guy, and so he gets all the blame.

>> Tara Blanc: Yeah, I think that's really true. Obviously the President can't control the weather, but the things that happen that are related to hurricanes and so on and so forth, we need somebody to look at and say, "you need to be responsible, somebody needs to be responsible." well, you start with the guy at the top. And I think people do push a lot of things toward the President, whether he -- he's actually responsible or can control things or did a good job or didn't do a good thing. If things are going badly, he gets the blame.

>> Bruce Merrill:
That's obviously the downside. On the other hand, the President has a lot of advantages, for example, over Congress, from the standpoint it speaks from the single voice, not 535 people, and those kinds of things.

>> Tara Blanc:
And much more recognizable, too.

>> Michael Grant:
One of the logical questions, here, Bruce, because J.D. Hayworth was talking about it on "Imus in the Morning" a couple of weeks ago is just whether or not this impacts some of the races next year, whether or not you want the President in the state of Arizona on your behalf. Obviously the Jon Kyl/Peterson race comes to mind. What do you think?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Well, I really don't believe that people are going to vote for a United States senator in Arizona depending on whether or not Bush is popular or not, or he comes to Arizona or not. People have a little bit more sophistication than that, but the significance of these people that will be coming in -- remember, last week Peterson had Obama -- I can tell you whether it's Obama coming in for Peterson or the President coming in for Kyl- the biggest thing they'll do for these candidates is raise a ton of money. They have a lot of private parties or gatherings, where they ask people to come.

>> Michael Grant:
Fundraisers.

>> Bruce Merrill:
I would bet that both of them raised probably close to a million dollars, or at least several hundred thousands for both campaigns. So you're going to see now, with this very intense race between these two, you're going to see a lot of very popular Democrats coming in. You'll probably have the former President in here. And you're going to see a lot of the more popular Republicans coming in.

>> Michael Grant:
Tara, does the result on misleading the public about pre-war intelligence, does that question also tend to break along party lines?

>> Tara Blanc:
Very much so. I believe it was about 80\% of the people who were Republicans still support the President and said that they believed that he was telling the truth. Again about 15\% of the democrats felt that -- only 15\% felt he was telling the truth. And independents were somewhere around 34\%, 35\%. So it's Republicans, the social conservatives, that tend to support him. It breaks very much along party lines.

>> Michael Grant:
Bruce, we touched on this, but let's go back to it. The majority of Arizonans think that the state's headed in the right direction. I guess if the President gets the blame for a bad three-month run, will that attitude tend to help governor Janet Napolitano, for example, more than the legislature?

>> Bruce Merrill:
Sure. Let's put it this way -- if I were Janet Napolitano up for re-election, I would rather run at a time when things are really good than when things are bad. As Tara pointed out, it's kind of like a quarterback. When things go well, then the quarterback gets the credit. When things don't go well, the quarterback gets the blame. That's pretty much what happens with people like the President and the Governor. You know, part of it is just good luck, Mike. I mean, things happen to be good right now when she's going to be running, and that's going to help her a lot.

>> Michael Grant:
Boy, I don't know that retailers should be real happy with the result on people's Christmas expectations.

>> Tara Blanc:
57\%, 60\% of the people said they're going to spend about the same as last year. You're looking at kind of even. But twice as many people who answered the other way said they'll spend less, about 28\%, and only 12\% said they'd spend more.

>> Michael Grant:
Probably being driven in part about some of the uncertainty about the economy, higher oil prices, those kinds of things.

>> Tara Blanc:
The gas prices especially. I hear people talk about the fact they feel they're spending so much on things like gas and other things, that they tonight have the kind of disposable income they've had the in the past. It has effected us.

>> Michael Grant:
Thanks to the volunteers. Tara Blanc, our thanks to you.

>> Tara Blanc:
Thank you very much.

>> Michael Grant:
Bruce Merrill, always a pleasure.

>> Bruce Merrill:
Good to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Both of you have a great Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

>> Tara Blanc:
You too.

>> Michael Grant:
This week in our series "Growing Pains" we're taking a look at the different directions in which the Valley is growing. Yesterday we took a look at what some call edge growth and others call just plain sprawl. Tonight, a trend not to build out, but up. High-rise condo developments are under way in valley urban areas. Some others are proposed in some areas typically known as suburban. In a moment more on the phenomena of vertical living. First Merry Lucero looks at why more people could be requesting a room with a view.

>> Merry Lucero:
From the penthouse balcony patio of this midtown Phoenix high-rise the view of the Valley is spectacular. This and other amenities of high-rise living are bringing real estate agent Will Daly more than 100 calls a week from people interested in high-rise properties. At one time his high-rise clients were mostly retirees. Daly says that has changed.

>> Will Daly:
Today we do have retirees interested in high-rise, but also have buyers who are students at ASU. We've got people in their 30's and 40's. I'm in my 40's. People of all ages.

>> Merry Lucero:
Daly specializes in urban properties. He lives here at Crystal Point and loves it.

>> Will Daly:
First and foremost is probably location. The majority of the new builds are walking distance from shopping and restaurants and bars and clubs, etc. But over and above that are things that most people don't think about. In this building, particularly in some of the other buildings, they offer things that make my life easier.

>> Merry Lucero:
Owners enjoy conveniences like a concierge, 24-hour security and no yard or pool maintenance. High-rise living is not new in the valley. Crystal Point was built in 1990. This penthouse, which is not Daly's, is clearly a luxury unit, but more high-rise condos at a variety of prices are being built, even first-time homebuyers have options.

>> Will Daly:
They generally have to buy smaller. All right? They're buying 700, 800, 900 square feet. If they were buying a single-family home, they'd be at 1500, 1600, 1800 square feet. There's still affordability. Prices have gone up a lot over the last year, but there are options on the horizon. Condo conversions, stuff like that. Some high-rise office buildings and high-rise apartment buildings are converting to condos.

>> Merry Lucero:
Prices generally range from the $300,000's on up and they're not just in downtown Phoenix anymore. A year ago high-rise residential buildings were sparse. Today high-rise residential in areas across the Valley, some unexpected areas like Mesa and Chandler, are sprouting vertically.

>> Will Daly:
I think for the most part you have a couple major hubs. You've got the Camelback corridor. Downtown Scottsdale. And Tempe. And then Phoenix is rapidly becoming another core for high-rise.

>> Merry Lucero:
In Tempe, condo projects like the Edgewater are under construction, and one of the biggest current projects of its kind is being built, Avenue Communities Centerpoint Condominiums, one 22-floor and three 30-floor towers with more than 800 units will eventually be on this 5-acre site off mill avenue.

>> Ken Losch:
In Tempe, we've run out of land. The opportunity now is to only go up. That's the only opportunity there is. In the Mill Avenue district, the mayor, Hugh Hallman, and his council have determined this area to be a high-intensity area, so the Centerpoint Condominium community is one of the first opportunities to express that.

>> Merry Lucero:
But not everyone is happy about this type of development. Some worry if urban infrastructure can handle the volume.

>> Ken Losch:
It's always sort of a work in progress. You have to upgrade your services as you add residents over time. And that will be the same thing for the Mill Avenue district, as we add, you know, many more homes, we'll be also adding more sewer capacity, more water capacity. You know, traffic will be somewhat addressed with the metro system opening up in a couple of years.

>> Merry Lucero:
And some neighbors have complained about the urbanization of the area. In Tempe, Avenue Communities is working to address concerns.

>> Ken Losch:
To go to 30 stories from 22, we've visited with all the neighborhoods. We've canvassed over almost 200 homes to get input, feedback directly, and, you know, quite frankly, have had overwhelming support. We've only had about eight people who have opposed us in those reviews, and we've had dozens and dozens who have given us their -- you know, their blessing and encouragement.

>> Merry Lucero:
And as the Valley's population continues to grow, the vertical growth phenomenon isn't likely to slow down.

>> Will Daly:
It's bringing people to the core. And it starts to make -- it starts to narrow our boundaries, where before our boundaries were limitless. And all the urban sprawl, but I also think issues about the environment are starting to come in to our dialogue. I think that a sense of community is coming into our dialogue. I think the idea of driving less is important to people.

>> Ken Losch:
I mean, it's really a pent-up demand that's been here for some time. Now the Valley's expressing it. And, you know, places like 22nd and Camelback and 24th and Camelback, with the Esplanade, and our Third Avenue lofts community, the first concrete mid-rise in downtown Scottsdale, which has been highly successful, and then, you know, communities like this. You know, this is here to stay. It's a lifestyle. We're running out of land. And there's this huge opportunity to address that pent-up demand for people who want this kind of lifestyle.

>> Michael Grant:
Here with more on the vertical growth trend, Wellington Reiter, dean of ASU's College of Design, and Brian Kearney President of the downtown Phoenix partnership. Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

>> Happy to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
You know, Brian, it is worth reiterating, that this isn't the first time we've had people living in-- I'm not sure whether you call them tall buildings, but kind of tall.

>> Brian Kearney:
Tall for here.

>> Michael Grant:
Buildings for here.

>> Brian Kearney:
It's not. I think, you know, you've got to go back several decades, I think, and there was sort of a mini boom, if you will, of high-rise living. You see evidence of that on Central Avenue with some of the older high-rise apartment and condo buildings there. But -- and then there was a few projects scattered here and there between, say, the 1950's and 1960's, and the boom year seeing now, but what we're seeing now is completely different than anything in the past, and something that I think will be more sustainable as we walk through the future.

>> Michael Grant:
We walked through some of the projects in the tape package. This one's pretty widespread. I mean, there are a lot of projects in different areas.

>> Brian Kearney:
It is. I mean, what you're seeing is -- primarily it's happening in the urban cores around the Valley. Certainly in downtown Phoenix, which I happen to be partial to, obviously. We're seeing, you know, well over 1,000 units that are under construction or very close to being under construction at this point in time. So you see it in downtown Phoenix. You see it in the 24th street and Camelback area, downtown Tempe, and to a lesser degree in terms of height, but certainly there are a number of urban projects that you might call mid-rise projects in downtown Scottsdale as well. Surprisingly because of the popularity that this product is having in the urban areas, you're even seeing a smattering of it here and there in very suburban areas, in the Mesa area as well as near the Chandler mall. So again, I wouldn't call those high-rise projects, but certainly a more urban character than what you're typically seeing in the master plan communities in suburban areas.

>> Michael Grant:
Wellington, is it a trend or is it a blip? Is it today's, you know, 33rd flavor and it will be gone?

>> Wellington Reiter:
That's a little hard to know at this moment, because while there's a lot of smoke, there's not a whole lot of fire. There are people talking about these projects, and I think in your tape it showed that some of actually beginning to come out of the ground, but there's a lot of proving still to be done with regard to how many of these towers actually come in to being. I think it's a little hard to say at the moment.

>> Michael Grant:
What are some of the reasons for it?

>> Wellington Reiter:
Well, I think you've got different populations moving here, to the valley. If we're going to attract the knowledge workers that are going to drive the new kinds of businesses and research enterprises you want to see in the Phoenix area, those people are typically coming from other urbanized areas, lifestyles they'd like to see here. As a dean of a College, I'm trying to attract faculty members here, I have often the case where people say, "Where's the loft district, the downtown area? I think I'd like to live there." They're used to that kind of living and seeking it out.

>> Michael Grant:
Tempe has been trying to put that together obviously for quite some time.

>> Wellington Reiter:
They have. And while you suggested that many of these projects are happening broadly in the area, where they're happening is quite predictable, because on the ground there are amenities for these people when they come out of these taller buildings that they want to be near. There are bookstores, cafes, restaurants, other kinds of retail. It has to do with what's around these taller buildings. Not just being in the building itself.

>> Brain Kearney:
The other thing I'd point to in terms of why it's happening, I think, demographics are changing across the country. And, you know, we're clearly seeing the aging -- the baby boomer generation. I think for the first time in our history we have more households without kids than we have with kids. And so that's creating a fairly deep market for an urban product that really didn't exist before, when everyone was looking for family housing. Because it's not the families that are buying these condos. So we're seeing an older generation that is looking for this type of a lifestyle, as well as we're seeing in the Y generation, a younger generation, looking for the amenities of an urban lifestyle. So the demographics I think are playing very well into what you're seeing right now.

>> Michael Grant:
In fact, I wonder if this isn't kind of the backside of the popularity of townhouses and condominiums in the 1970's, maybe the early 1980's, when the Baby Boom generation was younger, then they made the decision, "Well, you know, the kids, you need a backyard, front yard, just like mom and dad." Now the kids are gone, and they say, "Well, hold it, I'd just as soon as not mow the lawn anymore."

>> Brian Kearney:
That's exactly right. If you're still of working age, they're generally closer to their work, they're closer to the amenities of an urban environment. As Duke was just referring to, whether it's a shopping or restaurant, the culture, the entertainment, the sports. They can have a lock and leave mentality, if you will. You want to go on a trip, you just lock the key and you're gone and you don't have to worry about the lawn and papers on the driveway, that type of thing. I think that's very attractive for a large segment of the population. The younger side of it, the Y generation, or millennium generation, if you will, there's some overlap there, but I think they like the late-night activities, all the people that are around, the excitement, the hustle, the bustle. So there's some common things that they're looking for, but I think there's differences that urban areas provide to both sets of generations.

>> Michael Grant:
So Wellington, you touched on this point. I want to go back to it and sort of build on it a little bit. What's the chicken and what's the egg? I'm getting the impression from you that you are not going to just plunk one of these buildings down in the middle of nowhere and draw to it things.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Absolutely not.

>> Michael Grant:
It's more the opposite of that?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think very much so. I think that the areas that we've talked about, whether it be in Scottsdale, 24th and Camelback, downtown Phoenix, Tempe, there's already -- if not something happening -- the suggestion that something quite powerful is going to happen in that area, thus making the idea of vertical living very attractive. I think the idea of tall buildings happening in remote locations is not feasible for a lot of reasons.

>> Michael Grant:
Million dollar question -- does downtown Phoenix have that kind of thing?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think there's a strong belief. And Brian works on this every day. I think there's a strong belief that Phoenix is about -- downtown Phoenix -- is about to have a very significant moment with the arrival of the ASU campus. And suddenly light rail. We're talking about a very sophisticated form of transportation. One could see vertical buildings as the parallel to that kind of transportation, such that you could live on -- you could actually live entirely on Central Avenue. You could live in a high-rise, commute to work on that light rail, be downtown near the University, near your business, go back home, be near a restaurant. I think that one could very much imagine an urban lifestyle that includes verticality.

>> Brian Kearney:
Michael, I have to chime in on this.

>> Michael Grant:
I figured you would.

>> Brian Kearney:
We think there's no doubt that downtown Phoenix does offer the type of amenities and lifestyle that people looking at this product are looking for. And Duke mentioned ASU and light rail. You've got the U.A. Medical School, the bioscience activity, all the existing arts and cultural amenities, the restaurant base. We've already seen success. We've added about 1600 units in the last -- residential units -- in the last 10 years in the downtown area. We have over 1,000 under construction right now. So I think the proof is in the pudding. People are moving to downtown. People are staying downtown. And we're seeing more and more interest every day. And as all these things start to happen, the amenities base is only going to grow larger. More restaurants, more retail, more activities. And more people on the street. That's what people are looking for.

>> Wellington Reiter:
I would say what's important about this, it's not the vertical living they're looking for, it's everything Brian just described, which has, too, an aspect to it that includes density. And that's why you have these buildings of condominiums, of 20, 30, maybe even 40 stories downtown.

>> Michael Grant:
Challenge in some areas on the infrastructure?

>> Wellington Reiter:
I think there's no doubt that's true, but it's certainly feasible. If Phoenix is going to call itself the fifth largest city in the United States, its infrastructure has to be capable to sustain such a claim. I think that can be overcome.

>> Michael Grant:
You may see torn up sidewalks and stuff, though.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Well, you're talking to someone who lived through 20 years of the big dig in Boston, so what I'm seeing here is relatively minor by comparison. That city didn't shut down. Yeah, torn up sidewalks and cranes in the air would be a good sign that Phoenix is coming into its own.

>> Michael Grant:
Wellington Reiter, thank you very much for joining us.

>> Wellington Reiter:
Glad to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Brian Kearney, thank you for being here.

>> Brian Kearney:
Thanks for having me.

>> Michael Grant:
We continue our series on growth tomorrow.

>> Mike Sauceda:
As the Valley continues to grow, not only the growth is going to the outskirts. Smaller housing developments are being built in the core of the city, throughout the Valley, not just in Phoenix. Although the houses may cost more in the city, there are advantages. Learn more about infill housing Wednesday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Yesterday was spreading, today was going up, and tomorrow infill. Hope you can join us. Thank you very much for being here this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents