Downtown Grocery Store | This Could Be Phoenix
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Downtown Grocery Store

About This Project

It’s no mystery that Downtown Phoenix is a foodie’s dream – traditional Neapolitan pizza at Cibo and Pomo, unique sushi at Moira & Squid Ink, fun American fare at Angel’s Trumpet and Short Leash…the list can go on and on. With all the restaurant options around the core, you really can’t go hungry, except when you realize the fact that you’ll be eating out every night because there’s nearly nowhere to pick up ingredients of your own. Yes, we have the farmer’s market and the little markets Bodega 420 and L-E-X3 Mercantile which are great additions to our community. However, many Downtown residents are forced to hop in a car or find alternative transportation to pick up the other necessities that aren’t available in the smaller markets. This Could Be PHX envisions a grocery store smack dab in the middle of Downtown, servicing the multiple housing units surrounding the site – all that are under 15 minutes of walking.

Project Site

We love the idea of a grocery store in the building that most recently housed Circles Records and Discs, closing in 2009. Right at the intersection of Central and McKinley, it is diagonal from the bustling Public Market center that hosts the farmer’s markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays and Food Truck Fridays. We’ve spoken with many Downtown residents who have expressed enthusiastic interest in a grocery store and love the idea of this location and say that the proximity to the market would only help local vendors.

Surrounding Areas

The area surrounding our project site is rich with housing units. We counted over 15 larger complexes all landing under 15 minutes walking time to the site, along with numerous other smaller units and homes. What better location than this…the gathering area for hundreds on the weekend and a well traversed path to the other areas of Downtown right in the middle of a high residential population?

What this Represents

A grocery store represents legitimacy, really. What urban core can truly call itself successful without offering the amenities that people need to live their daily lives within its boundaries? None, really. It also represents a fuller urban lifestyle that people can live in Phoenix. Rather than getting in a car to get the nearest grocery store miles away, we should be able to walk there, bike there, take the light rail. This doesn’t even take into account that the whole area South of Roosevelt to Jackson is deemed by the USDA as a “food desert,” since there is a high percentage of households with no vehicles and are more than half a mile from a grocery store. We already live in a sweltering desert, so let’s get a grocery store so we don’t have to live in a barren one too.

Infographic: The Case for a Grocery Store in Downtown Phoenix

The Case for a Grocery Store in Downtown Phoenix

Project Location

McKinley & Central

Created by

Ryan Tempest and Quinn Whissen


Architect and Graphic Designer

This is an envisioning of the possibilities of this location, and is by no means a project that is planned or overseen by the site or property owners. With these hypothetical projects, we hope to spark a conversation to help imagine the city's future, and our ideas do not reflect actual plans.

    Posted at 12:42h, 13 May Reply

    Is there a way to sign a “petition” or something that can be spread through the internet to gain a national company’s attention of the demand for a grocery store in Downtown Phoenix.

    -Concerned Future Phoenix Resident

  • Jason
    Posted at 18:09h, 26 July Reply

    I can answer your question easily. I am looking to locate a grocery store myself, and after reviewing the demographics of Phoenix, it would be an ideal location. However, the building in question is listed at nearly $3,000,000. That’s 3 million JUST for the building! That doesn’t include stock, equipment, salaries, renovations, taxes, fees, licensure, and the many other costs associated with starting a grocery store. Also, grant money in Arizona and Phoenix is so compartmentalized (women, minorities, veterans) that the average person has almost no chance of getting any help on such a large venture. The idea is great, the location is good, but it’s not economically viable.

  • Alberta Hagerman
    Posted at 13:34h, 13 October Reply

    Recently, I was downtown and needed to stop for a few groceries. It was sad that I drove down 7th St to Glendale Ave before I found the Safeway supermarket. There are so many apartments downtown, why isn’t there a major grocery store?

  • anobliqartist
    Posted at 09:02h, 05 November Reply

    Working on it

  • ACRoRo
    Posted at 13:37h, 19 July Reply

    News Flash: a Fry’s is going to be built on Block 23. Also, a developer already partly destroyed the Circles building in the name of ‘progress’. (Progress being a 19-story apartment building that is completely unnecessary). I’ve lived in Phoenix for a little over 20 years, and I have to say I find the recent development explosion to be upsetting. People are just rolling in here–developers, millennials, opportunists–and trying to carve out ‘their vision’ of what they think Phoenix should be. It’s irritating. “Phoenix has no identity, so we’re here to give it one! Yay us!” Where were you 20 years ago when downtown was empty? Oh, right. There was no money to be made.

    • Quinn Whissen
      Posted at 13:42h, 19 July Reply

      This was posted in 2014 FYI – and was just the envisioning of one possibility for what downtown residents kept repeating they wanted: a grocery store.

  • Scott Ruecker
    Posted at 16:16h, 08 August Reply

    Phoenix needs to “fill up/in” the buildings that already exist with businesses and/or residential living spaces before constructing new ones that will just sit empty for a decade or more. And a Fry’s downtown will be full of homeless people just like central station, the park next to it and most of downtown is. Any downtown residents will stop shopping there after they go in a few times and see droves of homeless wandering inside and begging for money outside. It will end up as another empty closed building downtown..

    And unfortunately the only way you would be able to “get rid” of the huge numbers of homeless wandering around downtown would be to turn it into a mini Police State. We need to figure out a way to help what homeless people that don’t want to be homeless, get off the street. I was homeless for almost a year and learned a few things while staying at CASS, the homeless shelter off of 12th Ave and Jefferson. I learned that most homeless people want to be. Many have severe drug or alcohol addictions and /or mental issues and many are just abandoned and desperate for attention. Phoenix has a huge homeless problem that isn’t going to just go away. Until some kind of progress is made on that you are going to have a hard time getting people to live and shop downtown for any length of time.

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