When Heather O’Rourke cheerfully said, “They’re here” in the classic horror film Poltergeist, the audience shuddered in terror. If anyone in downtown Phoenix shouted “They’re here!” this weekend, most of the merchants would sigh with relief. After a long, very hot, quiet summer, Arizona State University (ASU) students moved into the downtown dorms on August 14-15, 2015.
This phenomenon is the result of a unique Phoenix experiment. In most cities, downtown merchants seek to attract students to their businesses. In the case of the sixth largest city in the US, a campus of ASU was created to attract businesses (a new market of 20,000 now available downtown)…and it worked.
The number of restaurants and coffee shops that has sprung up might surprise anyone, who has recently the area between 7th Street and 5th Ave, and Roosevelt and Van Buren. Mexican, deli, Thai, sushi, hotdogs, and other varieties of healthy and not-so-healthy cuisine are represented.
Downtown ASU hosts the Barrett Honors College, University College, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation Residential Communities, the College of Health Solutions, the School of Letters and Sciences, and the College of Public Service and Community Resources.
While, originally, Arizonans may have envisioned the downtown location as just a commuter-type college experience, all of the activity around Taylor Place at 120 E Taylor Street this weekend, demonstrated upcoming, meaningful engagement between students and the community.
Taylor Place, which opened in 2008, consists of two towers and features student lounges, laundry facilities, on-site dining and recreation, a private terrace, a 4,000-square foot neighborhood shade garden and the Devils Den.
ASU has developed an efficient system where cars can pull in, be quickly unloaded, and goods moved into the residence halls. Stress on nervous freshmen and anxious parents is reduced by the cheerful and helpful “Ask Me” ASU volunteers. This weekend, 1300 were expected to move in with the help of hundreds of upperclassmen and women volunteers.
The downtown students not only patronize local restaurants and food trucks. They take create, or take part in, cultural activities, are part-time employees, and complete projects to resolve real-life issues.
When the fall semester starts on August 20, the 11,500 students in downtown Phoenix will, not only help advance President Michael Crow’s vision of the New American University, but will help achieve Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s vision of attracting businesses and residents to revitalize downtown Phoenix.