Phoenix plans pedestrian mall downtown

The City of Phoenix is discussing making car-free lanes on Adams St. between Central Avenue and 2nd St.  This is in attempt to make certain areas of downtown Phoenix more The city of Phoenix is discussing making car-free lanes on Adams Street between Central Avenue and Second Street in an attempt to make certain areas of downtown Phoenix more "pedestrian friendly." (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

The city of Phoenix might replace a downtown street with a pedestrian mall to improve walking traffic.

Eric Johnson, the city's economic department program manager, said the pedestrian mall is planned for Adams Street between Central Avenue and 2nd Street.

The potential pedestrian mall is designed to provide better walking opportunities to downtown regulars and cater to downtown visitors, Johnson said.

He said the location of the future pedestrian mall was influenced by the proximity of the light rail station at the intersection of Washington Street and Central Avenue.

Johnson said many downtown visitors stay at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel and Hyatt Regency Phoenix along Adams Street and attend functions at the Phoenix Convention Center. As both hotels are among the busiest in the downtown area, providing better walking opportunities for visitors will create a better overall experience.

“There is a lot of people and a lot of activity,” Johnson said. “We want to create an inviting atmosphere representing an identity of Phoenix in the southwest to increase tourism and community activity.”

Johnson said the Phoenix City Council provided funding for the community and economic department to issue a Request for Proposal in December 2012.

The RFP will allow a city-appointed panel to choose and hire one consultant to conduct a study along Adams Street. In March 2013, the evaluation panel will decide who will lead the study.

The study will include an analysis of the street's existing conditions to determine if the construction of a pedestrian mall would be in the best interest of downtown Phoenix, Johnson said.

Communications junior Justin Flores said the potential mall and the possibility of other pedestrian malls is inconvenient for drivers in downtown Phoenix, but pedestrian malls can bring more students and others to the downtown area.

“I think it's great that (the city is) trying to do that,” Flores said. “It will help the city grow a lot more. There needs to be a higher population in downtown.”

Flores said he has lived in the Phoenix area for a while, and many ASU students don't have the opportunity to walk around the traffic to see all that downtown has to offer.

“Downtown Phoenix is very underestimated,” he said. “There are a lot of people, and there are a lot of things going on downtown and people really enjoy it.”

Health science preprofessional freshman Carolina Lopez Prieto said she thinks the city of Phoenix should go through with the proposed plan for Adams Street and should continue to plan more pedestrian malls downtown to better the pedestrian experience.

She said many students at the Downtown campus prefer to visit Tempe, because there are more places to go and more opportunities to walk around than in Phoenix.

“It's good that they're doing this,” she said. “But Tempe has more stores and more variety. ... If (the city does) build these pedestrian malls, they should add more stores and they'll attract more students.”

Johnson said that is the plan for the pedestrian malls — to fill vacant areas and attract more people to visit and enjoy downtown.

Johnson said Phoenix has planned similar pedestrian malls in various parts of the city in order to improve pedestrian opportunities for all residents, visitors and city regulars.

“We are focusing our efforts in different areas,” Johnson said. “The city has been focused on trying to improve connectivity and pedestrian experience in downtown for a very long time.”

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