By Jennifer Marshall
The Fourth of July is coming in a few weeks, and that conjures up lofty ideals like the “American Dream” and “Pride of Ownership.” The Valley of the Sun is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the United States making it a hub for lucrative careers, spacious and affordable housing, top-tier schools and an abundance of beautiful desert offering endless recreational opportunities.
The Phoenix area is expanding with unprecedented growth. Many older sections are experiencing a rebirth. One such neighborhood, the North 32nd area, is alive with revitalization and is poised to become the next most sought after neighborhood in which to live, work and play.
In life, it’s hard to know where you’re going without first understanding where you’ve been. To that end, you can’t adequately appreciate the revival of the North 32nd neighborhood without first touching on Arizona State Route 51. Despite all the benefits Arizona State Route 51, or simply the 51, gives us, this freeway was a deathblow to the economy of this region of Phoenix. In fact, North 32nd Street neighborhood suffered a thirty thousand plus loss in daily traffic after the opening of the freeway.
Per the City of Phoenix website: “The Corridor boundaries include the Phoenix Mountain Preserve to the South, Loop 101 to the North, 28th Street to the West, and 36th Street/State Route 51 to the East.”
Before the 51, North 32nd Street was the main East Valley artery for traffic flowing between North and South Phoenix. Heading south, North 32nd Street became the Dreamy Draw Road as it traversed the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. (Dreamy Draw Road would eventually become part of the 51.)
The Phoenix Mountain Preserve comprises the Phoenix Mountains, which is a collection of several different peaks, of which Dreamy Draw Road slides between two of them: Piestewa Peak and Stoney Mountain. These mountains are the perfect destination for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian activities.
Of historical note, in 1916, Sam Hughes, a resident of Phoenix, discovered and mined cinnabar, which is mercury sulfide, below the Dreamy Draw Road area. Because mercury is a neuro toxin, mining it was an extremely dangerous profession. Urban legend says Dreamy Draw got its ‘dreamy’ name due to the dreamy or wild looks of the miners.
Piestewa Peak was once known as Squaw Peak, and when the 51 opened, it was called the Squaw Peak Parkway. However, the word squaw is offensive to Native Americans, so the mountain and the freeway were renamed Piestewa Peak and Piestewa Freeway respectively. Piestewa refers to Lori Ann Piestewa, a member of the U.S. Army, who was the first woman to die in the Iraq War as well as the first Native American female to ever die in service to her country.
About four years ago, the citizens of the North 32nd Street corridor organized and decided to take action. With support from the City of Phoenix, they were determined to take back their neighborhood and revitalize it to its former glory.
So, what makes a neighborhood successful? Simply put, successful neighborhoods are defined by stellar schools, nice housing and an eclectic mix of local businesses.
The Paradise Valley Unified School District, which boasts 30 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high schools, serves the North 32nd Street area. A couple of these high schools are listed as “Best High Schools” by U.S. News & World Report while others offer a STEM intensive curriculum and Dual Enrollment, which is a program that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school.
BASIS Charter School, which dominates U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Charter Schools,” has a campus for grades 6-12 on 32nd Street. This fall, the upper school will move to a brand new facility a couple of miles away, and a BASIS Primary, which serves grades K-5, will open in the former vacated space.
Great Hearts, another charter school with outstanding rankings, opened last year on North 32nd. They offer Archway Classical Academy North Phoenix for grades K-6 and North Phoenix Preparatory Academy for grades 7-12.
“Location, location, location” is the cardinal rule of real estate. Here are some smart reasons for making the North 32nd Street neighborhood your home.
The first reason is that communities with top schools typically command top dollar for their homes.
The North 32nd Street neighborhood is full of charming older homes ready for you to transform into something magnificent. Sweat equity is a terrific way to build equity, and it’s the second reason to invest in a house in this area.
“I love seeing all the young families coming in and starting to revitalize the homes,” said Anne Wright-Levi who co-owns the nursery, Wright In The Garden, with her son Michael. “The homes are old; they need updating, and it’s affordable for the young families to do it; we’re becoming more of a community here.”
But for those looking for new construction, the high-density and high-end “32 North at Phoenix” might be the perfect place for you to call home. The models are open, and they’re currently selling. As new construction goes, buyers who purchase early usually stand to make the most equity. For those of you with kids, they’re located near BASIS Charter School.
Consequently, if you’re thinking of buying into this growing market, don’t wait too long. As the revitalization movement grows stronger and stronger, home prices will only begin to soar higher.
Finally, if you’re eager to settle in the East Valley, but you’re not yet ready to buy a home, then you’ll enjoy the opulence and convenience of “View 32 Apartments,” which will be available this fall.
And for those who are strictly desiring an entry into East Valley living, this might be the first step in the journey. The North 32nd area is surrounded by a certain degree of luxury and wealth, and that makes this neighborhood poised for nothing but the best.
Super schools and cool homes are a magnet for new residents, which, in turn, attract businesses eager for your loyal following. Whether mega chain outfits or mom-and-pop establishments, the rules are always the same—businesses like growing areas because they can grow with the neighborhood.
That’s what drew Wright-Levi and her son to the North 32nd region. Actually, they had lived in the area for sometime, then moved away, only to return again when they saw the growth potential for their nursery Wright In The Garden.
Local businesses have to monitor their bottomline, or they won’t stay afloat. For most of them, though, community plays a huge role in their success and happiness. Businesses help to shape and contribute to the fabric of a given neighborhood as do their customers. When done right, it becomes a symbiotic relationship. What an awesome feeling when a local business does a good deed for a neighborhood cause, and what a awesome feeling when you patronize a small mom-and-pop shop leaving your money right there in the community where you live.
“From us having the store here,” Wright-Levi said, “I see how tight the community is. They’re willing to support local business; they’re willing to support family owned business, and that’s important to us being a family owned small business.”
Business is booming in the North 32nd neighborhood. New commercial spaces are being built while others are being renovated.
For example, Paradise Hills Shopping Center, located on the NW corner of 32nd Street and Shea, has recently undergone an extensive restoration, and they’ll soon be welcoming a Zipps Sports Grill and Gelato Spot.
Moving to the intersection of North 32nd and Bell, residents will soon be enjoying a new Boost Mobile, One Stop Nutrition and an Angry Crab Shack Restaurant.
Referring to this intersection, James H. DeCremer II a Partner with Strategic Retail Group said: “They’re doing a four million dollar renovation, and they just signed a long-term lease at that property.”
And not to brag, but the North 32nd Street neighborhood has been visited by a special celebrity. Guy Fieri, host of the popular Food Network TV show, “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives,” paid a visit to Bootleggers in December of 2017.
Speaking of dining options, DeCremer, whose company specializes in retail and restaurants throughout the Valley, said of the neighborhood: “They’re just starved for good local restaurants, and they’re finally going to get a bunch of them.”
DeCremer highlighted success stories for businesses like Black Rock Bouldering Gym and Aioli Gourmet Burgers, and he was thrilled to hint at several large-scale business projects coming, but he wasn’t at liberty to provide any details.
Based on my conversation with both Wright-Levi and DeCremer, the North 32nd neighborhood has much to be happy, proud and thankful for and many exciting opportunities coming their way. We at North 32nd News wish them all the best for a continued successful revitalization and look forward to being a positive contributor to the community.
Photo Credit: Flying Robot | www.fraerials.com