What Should Replace Marcello’s In Tempe?

Marcello’s Pasta Grill has been at the southwest corner of McClintock and Warner for many years. It’s in a really great area in South Tempe where people feel like we are in need of more good restaurant choices.

**Update! As of 10/18/16 it sounds like The Oink Cafe will be moving in to this space! I’m super happy to hear this as it looks like a really great place for breakfast and lunch.

So, please join us in welcoming The Oink Cafe to South Tempe!

Marcellos for sale

For quite some time, we’ve heard “rumors” that Marcello’s would be closing their doors. Quietly, the business has been for sale for months and months. Some would tell you that they were going to stay and they would cite recent renovations and internal changes that indicated they would be around for many more years. Others would say that the changes indicated that the end was near. On May 17th, Marcello’s announced via their Facebook page that they would close their doors for good on Saturday, May 21st.

It is with such a heavy heart that I must announce, after serving Tempe for over two decades, Marcello’s Pasta Grill will be closing their doors for the very last time on Saturday, May 21st. It has truly been an honor to have served all of you for all of these years.

On Sunday, the 22nd, I noticed the large For Sale sign on the building and began hearing a lot of people talking about what is next for the space. People who live nearby are interested in having a quality restaurant fill the space.

What’s Next?

So, I’m curious to hear ideas of what is a good fit for the space. Do you prefer a “high-end” restaurant? Maybe a fast-casual space? There’s several places to eat nearby, but it seems like we need something nice. A cool spot to enjoy a night out. Since we have RigaTony’s on the northeast corner, maybe another Italian restaurant isn’t a huge need?

South Tempe has a style all its own. I’m really curious as to what you think would be a good fit for our ‘hood.

Over Killed In A Tempe Bike Lane

Update: The city of Tempe will be exploring new options for McClintock Drive modifications. Please continue to let the city know how you feel about the bike lanes and let them know how you think it could be modified or brought back to how it was before this failed experiment was implemented.

Update #2: 12/17/2016 –  Mayor Mitchell along with Council members Randy Keating and Robin Arredondo-Savage have been looking at a compromise to the bike lane fiasco. Here’s a link to an AZ Central article titled: Tempe is committed to balancing cars, bikes in transportation plan.

That is why we’ve directed staff to propose options that will restore the street to its original configuration and maintain a bike lane.

All Tempe residents are encouraged to let the council know your thoughts by emailing them at councilcommunicator@tempe.gov 

Tempe bike lanes

Tempe is certainly a bike-friendly city. In fact, it is an award winning city for being a place where people ride bikes to work and to play. You’ll find miles and miles of dedicated bike paths, and you’ll find tons of great bicycle friendly events where bicyclists are front and center.

Tempe bike lane striping On McClintock Drive, new bike lanes were installed in July of 2015 after “extensive study” and much “community input.” One lane of traffic was removed from McClintock to make room for the new bike lane. Now, there is a bike lane and a warning lane that acts as a buffer between cars and cyclists. There is also a barrier for the warning lane. Seems like a bit of over kill to me. Especially because there are so few people who actually ride bicycles on this stretch of roadway.

Heck, I’d be willing to bet that there’s not very many people in the city of Tempe who have ridden their bike along the stretch between Guadalupe and Southern over the past year than I have. I have personally taken at least 200 trips back and forth over that same route in the last 12 months. Before, during and after the bike lane construction. Prior to the bike lanes being installed, I would mostly ride on the sidewalks. Yes, I know that is evil, right? During construction, I rode both on the street and on the sidewalks along McClintock. Since the new bike lanes have been installed, I am certainly one of the people who use them several days a week. Honestly, I feel safer riding in the bike lanes than I did before, and it seems like the wear and tear on my bike is a bit less. Should there be such a wide lane for bikes? I’m not so sure. One thing I feel pretty strongly about is the candle sticks. They are ugly, they are overkill, they add to the traffic backups, they are bad for business owners in the area, and they are a waste of my ( taxpayer ) money.

The community input is all well and good, but average Joe doesn’t always pay attention to community input surveys until they sit at a couple of extra stop lights during their morning commute. Part of the reason for lack of community input is the fact that there seems to be a huge disconnect between North and South Tempe. Most discussions initiated by our city council members center around downtown Tempe growing upward, building “luxury apartments”, and maximizing “smart growth” in our landlocked city. Urban, urban and more urban seems to be the flavor of the year(s). While that seems to fit in the Downtown Tempe area, it doesn’t seem to sit as well with people south of downtown. Yes, people live in South Tempe, and they pay taxes. A lot of them. Many South Tempeans tune out the noise after a while, because the focus on Downtown Tempe doesn’t always directly affect them. Unfortunately, when people tune out, things like this that are not a good fit for their community get pushed through as an “experiment.”

Below is a McClintock Drive Bike Lane hand out that was provided to the public. It is said to show traffic patterns decreasing in 2014. Interestingly enough, they compare 2014 to 2004. Do you think that is the best comparison to use? People have asked if they looked at the timing of the recession – the period of time when gas prices rose to nearly double of where they are now. There’s a lot of factors that come in to play, and I suppose you can always get someone to post different ways to look at the same type of data to come up with an outcome that serves their purpose.

McClintock Drive Handouts 5.4.2015 <– There’s a link to their study. The photo below shows some of the first page of the report. Click the photo to enlarge it.

Tempe bike lane patterns

Fast forward to December 5th, 2015 and the next phase of the bike lanes were completed. This phase includes a whole bunch of “candle sticks” that act as a buffer between the buffer zone and the bicyclists. Another lane of safety if you are a serious biker. An ugly, unneeded waste of taxpayer money if you are any of the 99% of the people who travel along McClintock Drive each and every day or own a business along this stretch of roadway

Look, I get it. We are bike-friendly, and we need to be concerned for the safety of people on bikes. Many people who know me know that I’m kind of a transit fan. Yes, I’ve been to Tour de Fat, I have taken the time to meet the guys at T.B.A.G., and I think they do a lot of awesome things. While they will certainly disagree with my criticism of these stupid ballards, I am sure we’ll find things to agree on again in the future.

It seems like these ballards / candlesticks / bike lane delineators are popular in many  places in the country and maybe in other parts of the world. I would think they are rather useful in a very urban environment. In fact, I have no doubt they help bikers stay safe, but this stretch of McClintock Drive certainly is not the most urban environment in the city or the state. Heck, you’ll find a LOT more soccer moms than bicycle commuters on this stretch of road. The percentage of people that these help vs the number of people they do not help appears to be far out of line.

These two photos show a couple of examples of why people seem to dislike the ballards in the road. 1, They appear to create a barricade in many places that is less than business friendly. 2. They seem to get in the way of traffic. YES, that is the idea but…

I know there are a lot of people who think these barricade things are an awesome idea. In fact, I’ve seen reactions from people like:

These are a great addition. Someone get Phoenix to step into the 21st Century, too, please.”

“These are a positive development and should be encouraged. They send a clear message that the bike lane is not to be used for parking or right turns.”

“So glad Tempe is taking steps to make the city safer for cyclists. Change is hard. These barriers can be literally mean life or death for cyclists.”

It has now been a few weeks, and I’ve tried to have a wait and see attitude about the ballards in the bike lanes. While I do enjoy riding my bike in the bike lanes, I still feel like this experiment is overkill for the area. It just doesn’t seem to make $ense to provide so much for so few. While I understand that my vote doesn’t always count, I hope that any future expense is relegated to a true need in an area where it might make more sense, instead of some feel good experiment by a city council member who thinks that it is “just a small part of the budget.”

Bike Lane Problems? Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell:

I’ve seen some of the broken ballards and have reached out to let Mr. Granville know about them. While I asked how much it would cost to replace them, I was just told that “staff” would be notified.

Less than two weeks later, I saw two more broken poles in the same place as where the others had been replaced, and I was told the exact same thing. “Staff” will be notified. I guess Mr. Granville doesn’t want me to bother with details.

Tempe bike lane ballard

 

Here’s the text of a letter sent to one of our city council members. I thought it was reasonable. I’d be curious to know what you think of these candlesticks that have been installed in Tempe. Feel free to leave a comment. Yes, I know people have differences in opinion, so please be civil with your remarks or they will be deleted.

In a future post, maybe we can discuss the traffic issues caused by the removal of lanes due to the additional bike lanes…

 

** Update: 1/5/15 ** Third Strike on McClintock:

So, less than a month after the first photo of the broken ballard on McClintock and the EXACT SAME ONE has been run over again. That’s ( at least ) three replacements of the exact same “candle stick” within a month. It makes you wonder how many extras we have and how much is being spent or being done to replace these. I know, I know… It’s a small piece of the budget.

Tempe bike lane casualty

3rd Bike Lane Casualty

January 22nd, 2016 bike lane casualty number FOUR for the exact same ballard. Heck, this one lasted a lot longer than the first three. Things are getting better! Maybe someone should take a look at the safety of drivers when trying to drive northbound on McClintock as they attempt to head east on US60. I’m no expert but I’d be willing to guess that these candle sticks are causing a lot more damage to vehicles than they were “expected” to do. The following photos shows a piece of the ballard still hanging on by a thread. I’d be willing to bet a LOT of money that this piece will be hit again very soon and will be gone before we know it. As you can see from the black tire marks, it has probably been struck several times. Good thing the city ordered more. Right?

Tempe bike lane fiasco

4th casualty – 1/22/16

After Four Strikes, Battered Ballards Removed from the bike lane:

Just a couple of weeks after the fourth time these candlesticks / ballards had been replaced they have been removed from this section of the bicycle lane. It make us wonder if they will remove more in the future? Here’s a pic of the section of road that is now ballard free.

Tempe bike lane candlestick

Tempe Happy To Welcome Zenefits – Many Others

It seems like the jobs just keep coming to Arizona and that is certainly welcomed news in Tempe. Companies like GoDaddy, Northern Trust, DriveTime Automotive, Reputation.com, Shutterfly and, of course, State Farm are some of the companies hiring and expanding in Tempe.

Zenefits Expanding in Tempe:

Zenefits at Hayden Ferry Tempe

Zenefits – Hayden Ferry

This past week, it was announced that Zenefits is expanding their operations in Tempe at the super-cool 3rd and final Hayden Ferry tower that is currently under construction. They signed a lease for 5 floors of the Class A tower and will occupy 135,000 square feet of space. Zenefits plans to hire 700 people by the end of the year, which will bring their number of employees to 1300 after adding to the 600 employees they already have at their Old Town Scottsdale location.

Zenefits will be joined by a lot more new faces along Rio Salado Parkway in the very near future. The new Hayden Ferry Tower is already 92% leased before being completed, and Marina Heights is not far behind with their addition of thousands of jobs. Yes, thousands. Depending on where you get your information, we’ve heard 6000, 8000, 10,000 and 12,000 jobs being added at the massive Marina Heights development. I am not sure exactly how many they are bringing, but I am sure that the area will be forever changed by the tremendous amount of development we are currently seeing.

Zenefits will benefit by this awesome location, the large talent pool of employees and the proximity to the airport, Mill Avenue and all that the super-cool 85281 zip code has to offer.

We’ve found a great talent pool in the greater Phoenix area. We’ve been able to hire a lot of ambitious, smart people and we want to keep tapping into that market. This Tempe location is great, too.” – Mark Woolway, Zenefits VP of corporate development and business operations

The City of Tempe seems pretty pleased with the amount of new jobs coming to the area. From the Tempe city council to the Chamber of Commerce, there has been a lot of talk about the expansion that is occurring. Of course, we’d be happy to help Mr. Woolway and his crew find new homes for Zenefits employees in the area. We can think of some pretty cool lakeside communities near their offices. Of course, another nice thing about the area is the fact that MANY choices are available within a short commute from their new offices. Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe all have a ton of options for people wanting to be close to their shiny new building on Mill and Rio Salado.

Mill Avenue Becoming More as Downtown Tempe

Mill Avenue: It is known far and wide by people of all walks of life. The iconic street has seen ups and downs, good times, more good times and even some bad times. It has history and it has a bright future.

Here in Tempe, there’s always a ton of talk about what is happening “on Mill.” There’s no explanation needed, there are no directions to be given if you say you are going to a bar, restaurant, shop or event on Mill. EVERYONE knows exactly what you are talking about.

While some might not be huge fans of Mill Avenue and people in south Tempe whine about north Tempe getting all of the attention, resources and favor of our leaders, the reality is, the economic engine that is ( or was ) the Mill Avenue District paves the way for more growth in the city and in the region.

Last night, we heard city leaders talk about plans and the vision to re-brand the Mill Avenue District. A new logo, new marketing blitz and a fancy new web site have been put in place to tell people about Downtown Tempe. No longer will they market the Mill Avenue District. The future is all about the larger area of Downtown Tempe. They have been using the #TempeRising tag on all of the major social sites for you to follow along.

Recently, we’ve seen some activity east of Mill Avenue where the House of Trick’s has been rocking it before anyone else really could. Some of this development may be in anticipation of the massive plans that ASU has for the area. For years there has also been talk of stretching the Mill Avenue District west over to the Farmer Arts District, but that has been SLOW coming. Sam Fox and a few others hope to change that as they open the super-cool Culinary Dropout at the Yard in Tempe. Fox restaurants is making an $11 million investment in getting people to come to the “other side of the tracks” west of Mill Avenue. The new venue opens next month joining The Madison and Over Easy. The Madison is a spin and yoga studio that is already open, and Over Easy is another great breakfast addition to the area that opens later this year. The venue will also have The Coop and The Showcase Room as places to hold special events.

Change is coming:

Like it or not, there’s a ton of change coming to the Downtown Tempe area. Thousands of new jobs are being added, BILLIONS of dollars are being invested in and around the area, and we’ll soon see a ton of new residents looking to enjoy the valley’s most urban lifestyle. The new Marina Heights and USA Place will certainly have an impact on Downtown Tempe, but they aren’t alone. We’ve seen a lot of other investment large and small. Soon our past will make way for other future projects. I shot this photo recently of a crane flying in the air near Monti’s La Casa Vieja. I thought it was a bit ironic since the famed restaurant has recently been sold, and cranes will soon be circling the air at 100 S Mill Avenue, where this historic building has stood for a VERY long time. Yes, part of the building is being preserved, but the future site will have some big shiny new additions.

Crane at Monti's

So, Mill Avenue is the new Downtown Tempe. 40 is the new 30 and life goes on. Call it what you want, change is constant and we’ll be watching. What do you think about re-branding of the new Downtown Tempe?

Looking Forward to Another NAR Tech Edge in AZ

OK, so I’m a bit of a geek. Not really a full fledged geek, but a geek none-the-less. This may be why I was excited to hear that NAR Tech Edge is  coming back to the Phoenix area. Basically, Tech Edge is a day where geeks like me get to talk about fun and effective ways to grow or maintain their real estate business.

NAR Tech Edge rocks

 

For anyone outside of the real estate business, NAR is the National Association of REALTORS. This year, they are once again bringing this series of conferences to seven different cities, and I get to be one of the presenters here in AZ!

“This one-day, high energy conference is geared towards agents who are eager to learn how current web-based and mobile technologies can benefit their business and clients.”

I’m fortunate to know most of the people that I’ll be hanging out with at Tech Edge. They are an awesome group of speakers, and I’m pretty sure none of them are doing it to sell something to the attendees. One of the things that drives me nuts about so many industry events is the fact that someone is almost always trying to get in our pockets. NAR Tech Edge is different. It’s a bunch of people from our industry sharing tips, tricks and ideas to help each other learn new things or different ways to do them. I promise, no one will be pitching the latest and greatest way to effortlessly get you to page one of Google in 5 seconds. You probably won’t hear anyone say that “for today only, your subscription to our super duper service is only $19.99 per month!” What they will be talking about are proven ways that agents have been using to build their real estate business. Just honest, up-to-date, and accurate information.

What: NAR Tech Edge
When
: Wednesday, September 24
Time: 9:00 AM to  4:30 PM
Where: SEVRAR Conference Center
1363 S. Vineyard, Mesa, AZ 85210
Register: NAR registration page

I’ll be sharing  my thoughts on social strategy, blogging and online branding. While these are three different topics, I believe you can use all of them to help build your real estate business, and I’ll talk about specific examples of how I’ve done that. To me, these topics are a lot of fun. We hear people talk about this stuff all the time, but I’m going to try to put a slightly different spin on it.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all of the answers. Heck, the rules seem to be constantly changing and the competition to be found online seems to get more sophisticated each day, but there are things you can add to your business plan to effectively enhance the online portion of your business.  For instance: Is social media just about what you had for breakfast? Can a blog help your business? What is YOUR brand? Do you own it? Do you control it? Let’s talk about this stuff.

Here’s a list of topics that will be covered, straight from the Tech Edge agenda.

Connecting With the Online Consumer 
10 Things to Know About Data Security
Email – Friend or Foe?
It’s a Mobile/Tablet World
Photo & Video Tips for Building Your Business
There’s an App for…Everything!
REALTORS Property Resource
Social Reputation, Ratings and Rankings
Business in the Cloud
Facebook for Fun & Profit
Content That Sells
Tweets, Pins, Check Ins & Social Strategy
Getting Your Blog On!
Learning to Love LinkedIn
OnLine Branding

I’ll be sharing some ideas about social strategy, blogging and online branding. While these are three different topics, I believe you can use all three of them to help build your real estate business and I’ll talk about specific examples of how I’ve done that. To me, these topics are a lot of fun. Many people hear people talk about this stuff all the time but I’m going to try to put a slightly different spin on it.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all of the answers. Heck, the rules seem to be constantly changing and the competition to be found online seems to get more sophisticated each day.

This is a list of the speakers for the 2014 NAR Tech Edge event in AZ. I always learn things when I hang around people who eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, and I think you will, too.

2014 President, Evan Fuchs
Nick Bastian
Dru Bloomfield
Amanda Sue Eberson
D. Patrick Lewis
Holly Mabery
Paula Monthofer
Terry Nolan
Bill Risser
Melanie Wyne

Tech Edge is Emcee’d by internationally known and world famous Bill Lublin. Heck, just come to hear what this dude has to say and you’ll be way ahead. He’s just cool like that. A BIG thanks to AAR, SEVRAR and AAR for making this all happen!

I hope you will join us, it is sure to be a lot of fun. In a REALTOR geek sort of way…

NAR Tech Edge AZ