With a population crossing 1.5 million, Phoenix is the most populous city in Arizona and the sixth most populous city nationwide. That distinction should come with just about every cosmopolitan and modern amenity you’d expect to find. Or at least you’d think.
Turns out, the Fry's Food Store currently under construction as part of the Block 23 mixed-use development at First and Washington streets will be the very first grocery story in all of Downtown Phoenix, which has existed as a “food desert” for decades.
OK, let’s figure this out together.
Catherine Reagor of The Arizona Republic helps us make sense of how it’s possible the neighborhood has lacked a grocery store this whole time. While 12,000 people are expected to call the downtown region home by the end of 2017, only 6,000 or so lived here as recently as 2014. It just wasn’t a neighborhood made for residential living. However, an influx of businesses, uptick in building renovations, a new stadium, and the arrival of new Arizona State University campuses helped drive a large number of new apartments and condo developments. By the time the Fry’s opens in 2019, Downtown Phoenix could see its population swell to over 15,000.
The Block 23 project, which signals once and for all that the downtown region is booming, will also include 330 apartments, 200,000 square feet of office space, restaurants, and other retail along with the grocery store. The site of the development also happens to be Phoenix's original townsite, which brings the city and this neighborhood full circle.