Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mill Avenue, Reinvent Thyself

One could easily liken a city to a person, with a childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Phoenix and her metro cities have always fascinated me for this reason. This city—as I have previously posted—is constantly attempting to re-invent itself. Tearing down the old, building up the new, and sometimes even demolishing the new to bring up the newer and newest-fangled bleeding edge of urban domination.

Mill Avenue is no exception to this. It is a center of community, commerce, and conversation that suckles most directly off of the youth and the college, which is why an article posted over at Exurban League caught my attention.

If you want 6th Street, you've got to get rid of the bland corporate storefronts and blander post-retro buildings and get back to Tempe's roots. Bring back the fun of starting an evening out by filling up at Restaurant Mexico then going over to Wong's to listen to Dead Hot and then up to Edcel's for Walt Richardson & The Morning Star Band and capping it off by a 2am breakfast at Stan's Metro Deli and all the other things that brought Mill Avenue back from the brink of irrelevance. People used to line up out the door at The Coffee Plantation on a Friday or Saturday night: When's the last time anything was that popular on Mill?

The Ave has always kept my interest because there were things to do and places to be. The Graffiti Shop, Coffee Plantation, the deep thud of a band playing at Long Wongs—while these places are older than they are new, they were not Abercrombie & Fitch, or the newest reincarnation of some stupid sunglasses store limed with faux stone and too-bright windows in the dimness of the twilight. I know that I am one who advocates the drum circle before all else, but Mill is also the buildings and the stores that have been proudly lifting their chins and smiling at the passersby.

Now, condominiums are going up around Mill, they’re building them at the waterfront of the fake lake, they’re lurking just beyond the grand glow of the Ave, and looming with dire intent. These people who haven’t even visited Mill except for through the tempered glass of their limousines, and through the slats of office windows, are making decisions about changing Mill into a tourist paradise. Their concept of cool is imported from Scottsdale, trying to attract teenyboppers with money. To leech gross out of high-rent storefronts that are all glitz and glam that have no staying power and no substance. No soul.

That's it for now. News from the street level. It’s Saturday, and soon another Mill Avenue Night.

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Kevin Creighton said...

Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the link! It's nice to find someone else who remembers and longs for the heyday of Mill.

I'll be doing a photo study of Mill this month, much like I did of Main Street in Mesa. I hope you come back and visit often!

Kyt Dotson said...

A photo study of Mill will really pique my interest. I'll be certain to be watching thy blog.