Thank you for visiting my website! My name is Jordan Elder and I’m an aspiring broadcast journalist. My social media feeds are linked in the top right corner if you’d like to follow me on my journey! Visit the About page to learn more.
Palm trees wrapped in lights tower over the outdoor patio. Frog fountains shoot water towards giggling children. The smell of freshly cooked food wafts around. People sit on benches among the flowers, talking and enjoying the serenity. However, this quiet space won’t be calm for much longer.
Downtown Phoenix is constantly growing and expanding, and the Arizona Center is the latest facility to announce a plan for modernization.
Arizona Real Estate Magazine announced in October 2016 that the Arizona Center will undergo a $25 million renovation starting in the spring of 2017, with the architecture firm Gensler spearheading the project.
“The intention is that the center that used to be very introverted is becoming a lot more extroverted,” said Beth Harmon-Vaughan, the managing director of Gensler’s Phoenix office.
Parallel Capital Partners, the owners of the center, echoed this idea, describing the renovation as a “360-degree experience” to make the Arizona Center “a true downtown destination” once again.
The idea to remodel the center originated when it was sold to Parallel Capital Partners two years ago for $126 million. The company, in partnership with the New York-based investment firm Angelo, Gordon and Co., decided to put $25 million into revamping the property.
The center, which is walking distance from the Arizona State University (ASU) Downtown campus, is a convenient food and retail destination for students. Classrooms and faculty offices occupy parts of the third floor, keeping students flowing in and out on a daily basis.
The Arizona Center was built in 1989 and opened on Nov. 15, 1990 but has not been modernized since that date, causing students who frequent the center to rejoice over the renovation announcement.
“There’s only one elevator that gets us up to the third floor classrooms, so it would be nice to have easier access to get up to those,” said Jordan Evans, a current ASU student.
When describing the atmosphere the makeover will try to create, Harmon-Vaughan said that one of Gensler’s intentions is to make the center more friendly to the students and faculty of ASU since the two are such close neighbors.
“The shade structures, water features, green spaces, lighting and site furnishings will make the Arizona Center an ideal place to study as a group or alone,” Parallel Capital Partners Senior Project Manager Michael Jackson said.
Jackson also added that the center would provide Wi-Fi and “more direct circulation through the site” to make getting to class quicker and easier for the busy students of ASU.
Gensler will provide more direct circulation by “including a bridge over the pond” and removing “the ‘frog’ stairs” in the garden area, Jackson said. This will make the walk to ASU’s Mercado building much quicker, allowing students to pass through the middle of the Arizona Center rather than taking the long way around using 3rd Street.
Students also use the Arizona Center as a shopping destination, but there is only one clothing store currently housed there: New York & Company, which closed for good in March. “I’d like to see more affordable shopping centers and places like retail clothing instead of the large name brands that currently exist,” said ASU freshman Grace Ramsey.
This retail refresh of the Arizona Center will be led by Parallel Capital Partners. Additional tenants moving in include a boutique hotel, which would offer families visiting their college students another option when choosing a place to stay.
March 16 marked the groundbreaking ceremony, where Parallel Capital Partners Sr. Vice President of Operations, Jamie Cronemeyer, along with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, began the demolition effort with a sledgehammer. Construction began four days later, according to Jackson, who expects the entire project to last until January or February of 2018.
Construction will be managed by New York-based Skanska USA, a group that Matt Root, CEO and managing partner for Parallel Capital Partners, commended in a March 14 press release, saying, “The company’s track record in the commercial construction industry is hard to match.”
Jackson explained that the construction process would occur in 12 stages geared toward allowing current Arizona Center tenants to remain open to the public through the entirety of the renovation.
Though much of the construction will take place in the summer months, ASU students have expressed concern over the potential delay in getting to their classes. “Streets will likely be blocked off, and it’s going to cause inconveniences for students,” Evans said.
Parallel Capital Partners is working hard to make delays as little as possible. “There will be scheduled street closures when we begin construction on 3rd Street, but most of the work will be done at night to minimize disruption,” Jackson said. The renovations will be complete in the first quarter of 2018, and though some people may miss the quiet Arizona Center of today, ASU students are excited to experience the vibrant, modern and expanded Arizona Center of the future.
Panorama of the KC skyline taken from the WWI Museum and Liberty Memorial monument
Fortuity store wall in the West Bottoms
Missouri Mavericks hockey game. Soon to be renamed the Kansas City Mavericks
Liberty Memorial dedicated to all involved in World War One
Fortuity store wall in the West Bottoms of KC
Kansas City skyline including Union Station and Battle Hall spires taken from the Liberty Memorial
Sculpture on the WWI museum wall in Kansas City, MO
Over spring break, I was able to travel home to Kansas City, Missouri, and I HAD to share some of the sights with you. Kansas City is steadily growing and becoming a hip place to live and raise a family. The skyline is iconic and includes sights such as the Bartle Hall spires, Union Station, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Western Auto building and more. These can all be seen from the National World War I museum from atop the Liberty Memorial. This building houses a memorial and museum underground, a stunning sculpture facing the city and a tall tower with a flame on top that never stops burning. The flame is made possible by generous community donations and even through trying times, has never been extinguished. I’m so proud of my hometown and wanted to share some of it with you.
I had the immense honor of receiving the Mike Wallace Memorial Journalism Scholarship in New York City this September. My mom, Lisa, and I flew out to New York to attend the Emmy awards gala that morning and the rest of the day was just a whirlwind.
Skyscrapers in NYC
The Met in NYC
Trump Tower in NYC
We got to sightsee on the way to our hotel
Panorama of the Emmy gala
Red carpet at the 2016 Emmy gala
And then we arrived to the gala
Stage view at the 2016 Emmy gala
Receiving the Mike Wallace Memorial Journalism Scholarship from NATAS in NYC
I was called onstage to receive the scholarship after we were seated. David Rhodes, president of CBS News, took me on a quick backstage tour and introduced me onstage.
He didn’t mention that I would be speaking before throwing me the mic, so here is the resulting impromptu speech:
I apologize for the iPhone quality video
I got to meet journalism icons such as Scott Kelley, Jake Tapper and Lester Holt, and the presidents of ABC and PBS.
Though the trip was lightning fast, I’ll never forget it. It was without a doubt one of the best days of my life and I’m so grateful to all of the news anchors who answered my many questions, David Rhodes for introducing me and showing me around, my mom for accompanying me, and Adam Sharp, the scholarship coordinator who made the entire trip possible.
It was fitting that the school named “#1 in Innovation” be the home of an Innovation Day. Students, families and tech gurus filled the First Amendment Form on Friday, Feb. 3 to experience all of the wonderful displays. Prizes were given out to those who could come up with journalistic uses for these gadgets, which included drones, 360 degree cameras, 3D printers and more.
Child experiments with stop-motion photography
Many types of drones were on display
This heavy duty case and tripod help you film on the go
Centering up the shot
Sony had their newest camera styles out for people to learn about
On Saturday, Jan. 24, 2017, Steele Indian School Park hosted the Doggie Days Adoption Festival. Over 35 dogs were given new homes by the time the festival ended. The event ran from 10 am-4 pm and featured local dog shelters and adoption agencies working to set up puppies of all breeds with loving families.
A month away from campus sounded peachy at the beginning. Getting to eat home-cooked meals again, sleeping in a bed slightly larger than the XL twin provided in the dorms, and freezing to death if you come from out of state, but at some point, we had to come back to reality. Here we are at the beginning of second semester, resettling into routines and creating new ones. As fun as Arizona State is, there are a few things we definitely did not miss.
Long elevator lines
Nothing kills the rush you experience after getting out of class like a throng of people huddled by the elevator. Will I make the next one? Who are all these people? Do they even go here? The frustration is so real.
Dining hall food
Without a doubt, ASU’s dining halls provided better tasting food than we were expecting. But after being spoiled at our houses, we’ve come back to realize that nothing compares to home cooked food that goes from pan to plate to table within minutes. There’s always Chick Fil A close by, but one can only eat so many chicken sandwiches before starting to gain weight, which leads us to number eight.
Going back to the gym
Winter break messed up the routine of exercise we fell into first semester. More than likely, students feel the need to work out at school more so than they did while they were celebrating the holidays and catching up with friends and family. Now that we’re back, we realize how much weight we’ve gained eating mom’s mashed potatoes for a month, and that leads to more gym time. It’ll be tough to work off that extra poundage, but we’re all in the same (gravy) boat.
Sleeping in a bed that is not technically ours
Mattress pads work wonders, but even the cushiest of them can’t save us from the back pain we’ll experience the first week of sleeping on our XL twins. The dorms were so kind to provide us with a place to sleep, but after growing accustomed to our own REAL mattresses again, it’s a real struggle trying to fall asleep on our school beds, not to mention the heightened risk of falling out of them. Huddle in the corner and don’t forget that you can’t roll over. Stay safe, everyone.
This one is universal for students. Going from sleeping in all the time to hearing obnoxious beeping is enough to drive anyone crazy. It’s a good thing most people use their phones as alarms. You can’t throw those at the wall without consequences.
Paying for food. And Uber. And everything else.
If you didn’t appreciate the freedom you had at home, you will now. Starting school again means no more freebie lunches with mom and no car to drive yourself around in. Thank goodness M&G reset because we’re out here fending for ourselves!
It’s great to come back and see all the friends we’ve been missing. There are stories to be told and new memories to be made, but alas. Just as you begin sharing every detail of what happened over break, that one person you’ve dreaded seeing walks by. You cringe in disgust. Most people here are fantastic, but we all know of a few that make us want to run and hide. Gotta love living in such close proximity!
Phoenix tap water
Alright. Let’s be honest. The tap water in Phoenix tastes like it just ran through a cactus. It’s time to stock up on water bottles again because desert water is just as nasty as it sounds.
What a luxury it was to have such nice bathing accommodations at home. Full bathtubs and walk-in showers that can actually be moved in will be greatly mourned as we return to the miniature cubicles we are expected to cleanse ourselves in. You can barely shave your legs without injuring an elbow, a knee, or falling completely out of the shower. (We all know we’ve done it.) It’s a good thing water is covered in our housing because it takes a solid 30 minutes to get clean when the water pressure is that of a runny hose.
How could we forget about classes. The actual reason we must return from our winter vacation. One semester closer to a degree, one semester closer to real life, and one semester closer to becoming the people we dream of becoming. Work hard, friends. Spring break is on its way.