Garfield neighborhood in Phoenix benefits from recovery

PHOENIX – One of the oldest neighborhoods in Phoenix, the downtown Garfield neighborhood, has become known to hipsters, Arizona State University students, and especially artists.

The patchwork of renovated century-old bungalows, properties to renovate and empty lots now costs at least $ 400,000.

Studios, businesses and restaurants are now settling in the neighborhood.

Gallo Blanco restaurant moved in 2016 and executive chef and partner Carlos Diaz said the decision was easy. “We can see a lot of, you know, the potential around this area,” he said.

While its proximity to a revitalized downtown Phoenix, combined with the housing shortage, contributed to its popularity, the real work to save this community from collapse began decades earlier.

Carmen Mireles and her husband bought their house in Garfield in 1972. “It was a very quiet area, it was a nice and clean area,” she told ABC15.

Mireles raised her four children there, but she says things changed dramatically in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“The gangs started to appear, it was not so quiet. The neighborhood was deteriorating, it was not the same. It was dirtier, there was a crime, of all kinds, and it was not as sure as before, ”she said. noted.

They moved several times but always came back. “We felt obligated to this neighborhood, to the people, because there were good people,” she said.

The non-profit Alwun House art gallery, located near 11th and Roosevelt streets, was purchased in 1971. It was the first art gallery in downtown Phoenix and in the mid-1980s , President Dana Johnson said things were very bad.

“It was scary for our customers to come here and park in this area. So that’s one of the things that pushed Alwun House to step outside of our strictly artistic setting and start getting involved in the community. Johnson told ABC15.

Johnson, Alwun House founder Kim Moody, and other longtime residents have formed a neighborhood organization that has caught the town’s attention. It also awards a Justice Department grant on weeds and seeds, which the agency distributed to high crime areas during the 1990s.

“Half the money went to the police to eliminate crime. And then the other half went to social programs and home remediation programs and so on,” Johnson said.

In 1992, the city drew up a neighborhood plan. A redevelopment plan was adopted in 1999.

For 10 years, Johnson said that with federal grants, the city rehabilitated 500 homes and built around 60 homes where dilapidated properties once stood. He said that in the year 2000 the difference was significant.

“It was just getting a lot nicer. And we were building a good community,” he said.

Then the real estate bubble of 2008 burst and the neighborhood was faced with a new problem. “Housing properties have fallen to zero.”

He said many have been bought by investors who do not intend to live in the homes.

“And that’s the problem ever since – investors buy them and turn them into apartments or rentals, or Airbnb,” Johnson said. “You’re going to buy these houses and put a new coat of paint on them and charge double the rent that it was, you know, two years ago, so that doesn’t build our community. just take advantage of people. “

It’s another chapter in the history of the Garfield neighborhood, as it strives to move beyond its painful past to create a better future.

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