Tempe’s Apache Boulevard group disbanding; says its work is done

Posted By Mike Padgett

Dec. 8, 2008

After 12 years of working with city planners to reverse the decline of a key street in Tempe, a citizens group has decided to disband.

The Apache Boulevard Project Area Committee was formed in September 1996 out of concern about deteriorating businesses along the street. The boulevard in Tempe once was part of the main route between Phoenix and Mesa, and then on to Tucson. It was lined with businesses that catered to travelers, including service stations, motels, tourist attractions, recreational vehicle parks and restaurants.

Today, after more than a decade of leadership by the citizen volunteers, with guidance by city planners, the APAC committee members have decided to disband their organization. A special ceremony honoring the group’s work is planned at 4:30 p.m. at the New School for the Arts, 1216 E. Apache Blvd.

The business community along Apache Boulevard started struggling when traffic on the street was diverted to Interstate 10 in the 1960s and the Superstition Freeway in the 1970s. As businesses along the boulevard closed, and as buildings fell into disrepair, the local crime rate rose, causing more struggles for existing businesses.

“Lack of maintenance over the years and a pattern of disinvestment, combined with underutilized or vacant land, contributed to undesirable conditions that businesses and residents suffered from in the nineties,” according to the city history of the committee.

The group had 23 members at its beginning. Over the years, as the membership changed, the group participated in a variety of studies, including business, crime rates, neighborhoods, transit-oriented businesses, and light rail.

In its conclusion, the history of the group says much work remains to be done along the boulevard. It says “there are many vacant parcels that could be combined with adjacent property to create more desirable parcels of land.”

City officials believe redevelopment along the street will gain momentum when the light rail system, called Metro, begins operating at the end of December. Commercial real estate brokers have said investors are especially interested in properties near light rail stations along Apache Boulevard.

For more details about Apache Boulevard, visit Tempe’s Web site, www.tempe.gov/maps. Click on “Apache Boulevard” for information about developments in progress along the street.

The complete city report on APAC is available at www.tempe.gov/comdev/docs/APACfinalreport.pdf.

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Dec 8th, 2008

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