By Teri Carnicelli
One year ago, an alliance formed to leverage momentum created by light rail construction along 19th Avenue, focusing on the newest extension north of Montebello Avenue.
This new group, the 19 North Alliance, hopes to not only promote, but also reimagine, established neighborhoods and businesses along this route as well as highlight newcomers to the area.
Capitalizing on the construction and inspired by success in revitalized areas such as 16th Street and Bethany Home Road and the Melrose District, 19 North’s vision is for a walkable, safe and distinctive destination.
19 North invites community members to an Oct. 7 meeting to introduce plans being launched by the team. Neighbors in the 19 North area (Montebello to Dunlap and 15th to 23rd avenues) are invited to meet the alliance members and discover ways to get actively involved.
The 19 North Alliance is a collaborative effort by faith communities, the Washington Elementary School District (WESD), representatives from Councilman Daniel Valenzuela’s office, city of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department, local businesses like Abrazo, DeVry, Beatitudes, Los Compadres and others, as well as neighborhood associations including State Street, Royal Palm, Marywood and Washington Park.
“The light rail construction offered many community forums where businesses, community, faith, and schools met to begin building relationships,” explained Shannon McBride, 19 North Alliance chairperson. “I kept hearing the same thing as I met with different individuals who all have a vested interest in the area: a safe, walkable destination with a sense of unity and vitality.
“If we’re all saying the same thing in different pockets, wouldn’t it bring strength and get things moving if we were all in the same room, working across silos, to get things done. We are unifying our vision and future together,” said McBride, who is the pastor of Fellowship and Community at Open Door Fellowship Church.
This diverse team already has built incredible momentum with its collective ideas, resources and connections. Branding for 19 North will hang from light posts along 19th Avenue in the coming weeks, inspired by the historic Good Shepherd building on 19th and Northern avenues. The team is also in talks to use city-owned land as a community garden at 19th Avenue and Las Palmaritas. Unlike neighborhood or private gardens, this first-of-its-kind public garden is a unique cooperative effort across city, faith, neighbors, schools and businesses.
Discussions with local landowners and the city also are under way in hopes of establishing a community arts center for 19 North. Another goal will be securing the City’s Walkable Urban Code. A commitment from the city will help to enforce new-build projects to incorporate walkable criteria. Any new-build initiatives would require wide sidewalks, rear parking, bicycle parking, shaded walkways, storefront patios and more “to create a more vibrant transit and pedestrian environment.”
Aligning with the vision statement of a safe, walkable, unique destination, the Alliance is also assisting the city with blight and safety concerns, and will offer a 19 North Service Summit on Dec. 6, focusing on employment resources for the area.
Several other initiatives are in the works, and as architects, developers and landowners in the area witness the momentum of the 19 North Alliance.
McBride and others have been invited into planning meetings for future development along Northern Avenue and 19th Avenue. This community insight and investment can help bring the right mix of new restaurants and businesses to the area as well as promote it as a unique destination.
“WESD is a proud member of 19 North,” said Jill Hicks, director of Communications for the school district. “One way in which WESD plans to engage with 19 North is through its mentorship program. The WESD Safety and Mentoring Department will work with three schools—Royal Palm Middle School, Orangewood School and Maryland School—as well as Open Door Fellowship, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela’s office, the Phoenix Police Department and school social workers to pair students with mentors to boost their grades and attendance.
“Community engagement and partnerships are among the WESD’s top priorities,” Hicks adds. “We are thrilled about this new alliance and can’t wait to see the many positive results for our students and neighborhoods.”
The 19th North community meeting on Oct. 7 takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Open Door Fellowship Church, southeast corner of Butler and 19th avenues. For more information, e-mail info@19North.org.