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New artsy shopping center The Churchill provides students new options

The Churchill is built entirely out of recycled shipping containers and full of local businesses


A crowd of Phoenix residents sit and eat inside of the Churchill near ASU's downtown Phoenix campus on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Three blocks north of Taylor Place in downtown Phoenix is a new shopping center built entirely out of recycled shipping containers which offers a relaxing hang-out spot for students.

This new shopping center is The Churchill and opened during the end of August 2018. Located at First and Garfield streets, the space brings a variety of new local retailers and restaurants to the area.

Julie Oberholtzer owns a business in The Churchill called Cosas, a boutique that sells authentic Mexican gifts, like home goods, jewelry and kitchen items.

“My family and I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico for four years and just fell in love with everything about the country of Mexico (such as) the textures, the culture, the food (and) the people,” she said.

Julie Oberholtzer is Inside of her business Cosas where there are many authentic Mexican goods for sale. Photo by Ethan Gilchrist. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

The Churchill also has other restaurants such as Freak Brothers Pizza and Breadwinner and bars like Pobrecito and Brill Line. Also located in the space are retailers such as State Forty-Eight and Sauvage Bottle Shop.

Julie's husband, Ryan Oberholtzer, owns a Mexican restaurant called Provecho in The Churchill. She said they have been dedicated to this project since the start and were excited to join having seen similar successful shipping container businesses in Mexico. 

“Especially for (an) ASU campus, it gives the students and faculty a place to come congregate, a place to come hang out to study, to drink coffee (and) to eat,” Oberholtzer said.

A unique aspect of The Churchill is its community give-back program. Leasers in the center are required to complete four hours of community service every month and/or provide a percentage of their sales on certain items to the featured Churchill charity of the month.

Oberholtzer volunteered with the Andre House this month and donated some of her sales to community projects in Guadalajara. Ultimately, she said her goal is to provide unique affordable gifts to students in the $20 to $25 price range, and so far, her new venture is doing well.

Hannah Alley and Lauren Hillery own Gather, a shop that sells locally-made and handcrafted goods. Alley said they aim to be a night shop for workers with 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. days.

Gather is currently taking a portion of its sales on its body mist and skin care lines and giving it to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital which is The Churchill charity of the month.

The Churchill also recycles and composts with its restaurants and is partnered with Recycled City, which takes the compost and uses it at its farm, Alley said.

The exterior of The Churchill consists of a sculpture done using an old shipping container. Photo by Ethan Gilchrist. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Alley attended ASU and obtained a Master’s degree in the School of Social Transformation in social cultural pedagogy.

Gather is exceeding expectations right now for the two co-owners and they look forward to the future.

“We always envisioned Gather as something that is much larger than an 160 square foot shipping container,” Alley said. “We always envisioned it as a gathering space, a space where people who might not otherwise have a space to gather can come together.”

Aly Perkins, a senior studying public service and public policy said she was intrigued by the future that a place like The Churchill could have next to ASU.

“I actually think it'll be a great thing, (with) downtown being a commuter campus that it is, it would be great for it to become an open-air area like this with a bunch of restaurants (for) students,” Perkins said.

Overall, she looks forward to seeing how The Churchill plays into the growth of downtown Phoenix.

“I think it’s really modern especially being near the arts district,” Perkins said. “It kind of gives the place a unique character to it, but I'm really excited to see (where it goes).”

The Churchill on Friday, September 14 is full of new customers. Photo by Ethan Gilchrist. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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