Political message a sign of tension as Roosevelt Row development continues

A promotional sign outside the construction site of a new apartment building on Roosevelt Row with graffiti that alters the sign to read “Never Stop Exploiting.” (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

The intersection of Third and Roosevelt streets in downtown Phoenix, which now has apartment buildings on all four corners. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

The Dressing Room, in a building formerly home to GreenHaus Boutique and Gallery, is a restaurant that sits on Roosevelt between a new apartment development and other local businesses. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

A sign for Roosevelt Point Apartments, one of the four complexes at the corner of Third and Roosevelt streets, advertises to those passing by. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

A sign that reads “Sorry/Temporarily Closed” hangs on the door of the former Jobot location on Fifth Street off of Roosevelt Street. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

Jobot Coffee and Bar owner John Sagasta at the new location at Third and Roosevelt streets, where he relocated the business after a mishap with the landlord of their former location. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

A building with a sign that reads “Gallery” is fenced off with “No Trespassing” signs on Fifth Street near Roosevelt Streets, directly across the street from Jobot Coffee’s former location. (Photo by Ashley Ballard/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — It’s a blindingly bright Tuesday morning in Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row arts district. Despite the lack of people on the sidewalks, it is anything but quiet. The sounds of construction fill the air at the intersection of Third and Roosevelt streets, and a promotional sign for the new Broadstone Roosevelt Apartments, which formerly read “Never Stop Exploring,” was altered with spray paint to read “Never Stop Exploiting.”

The development of Broadstone Roosevelt Apartments, set to open in early October on the northeast corner of Third and Roosevelt streets, completes a superfecta of four apartment complexes, one on each corner of the intersection. This rapid development in the Roosevelt Row arts district has been disruptive to the local creative community.

“We want to be tied into the (arts) community. We want to be involved in the culture,” said Marissa Hubbard of Alliance Residential Co., the developers behind Broadstone Apartments, which has other locations in Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe, as well as 10 additional states.

The average monthly rate at Broadstone Roosevelt Apartments will be approximately $1,500. That’s about 60 percent higher than the average rental price in the Phoenix metro area in 2016, which was $924, according to RealPage, a rental data firm.

Broadstone Roosevelt has 316 luxury apartments, a fitness center, a rooftop deck with a view of downtown Phoenix, a pool house and courtyards where residents can play cornhole, Hubbard said.

Hubbard explains there are retail units available below, one of which will be home to Paz Cantina, a local Mexican restaurant that closed in November 2016 with plans to return once Broadstone Roosevelt’s construction in the same location was complete.

“It will be an improved location for (Paz),” Hubbard said.

A second unit, which Hubbard describes as large enough for two businesses to fill, is available for lease.

John Sagasta, owner of Jobot Coffee & Bar on the first floor of Roosevelt Point Apartments on the southeast corner of Third and Roosevelt streets, burst out in laughter upon seeing the spray paint on the sign across the street.

“(These developers) can do whatever they wanna do,” he said. “Everyone sees the direction it’s going.”

Jobot was forced to relocate to its current location from its former home on Fifth and Roosevelt streets in January 2017 after a disagreement between Sagasta and the landlord resulted in the business being kicked out, Sagasta said.

Jobot’s former location was a repurposed house with a kitsch atmosphere and do-it-yourself aesthetic. The new space has redefined Jobot’s look – large, modern windows that invite in endless streams of natural light, lofted ceilings and a bar area that nearly exceeds the original location’s square footage by itself.

Original furniture from the former location is a nod to Jobot’s roots on Fifth and Roosevelt streets.

Despite the pang of sadness Sagasta feels when seeing the former building, he said there are an abundance of positive aspects of having a larger, more urban space.

“We have live events in the store now,” Sagasta said. “We were never able to do anything like that before.”

Sagasta’s relationship with Roosevelt Point Apartments, which was built in 2013, also appears to be one of mutual respect and support.

“I want to be an asset to this building,” he said.

Sagasta also owns Flowers Beer and Wine, which was formerly located on the southeast corner of Fifth and Roosevelt streets before the building was closed off for renovations. Flowers is anticipated to relocate to an undetermined location, and Sagasta expressed interest in opening Flowers in the retail space on the first floor of Broadstone Roosevelt Apartments.

“We want to add a bar (to Flowers),” Sagasta said. “We are now licensed.”

Despite a sense of distaste with the changes happening on Roosevelt Row, Sagasta described finding a happy medium with these new developments and meeting “common ground.”

Cole Reed, owner of GreenHaus Boutique and Gallery in Portland, Oregon, relocated her business from Roosevelt Row to Portland’s Alberta arts district in early 2015 to have more parental rights protection for her wife, Dayna Reed, and their son.

“I’ve gone back to visit Roosevelt Row a few times, but not anymore,” Reed said. “I broke down in tears the last time.”

After hearing that Third and Roosevelt streets now have an apartment complex on every corner, Reed was silent on the phone for a moment. It was a heavy pause.

Reed, who is still in contact with members of the Phoenix art community, believes Roosevelt Row’s creatives have already responded. She explained most artists have relocated to a new community on Grand Avenue.

“I don’t think gentrification is 100 percent bad,” Reed said. “But the artists can’t afford to live, that’s what makes me angry.”

Hubbard explained a program that will be offered at Broadstone Roosevelt Apartments in which approved artists will be offered the chance to live at the complex for free for four months with their art displayed in a gallery area.

“It’s a community within a community,” Hubbard said. “We don’t want to take anybody’s business.”

Sagasta doesn’t believe this program is going to help the local art community significantly.

“It’s not saving anything,” he said. “It’s helping one artist to displace 20.”

When asked if he meant to say anything about the new developments off the record, Sagasta leaned back in his chair, one of the same chairs that was in Jobot’s former building.

“Nah,” he said. “Everyone knows how I feel around here.”