Local Restaurant Hosts Spinoff of Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby

BY: JORDAN ELDER

Hotdogs and donuts may seem like an unlikely combination, but it definitely works for restaurant-food truck combination Short Leash Hotdogs & Rollover Donuts. This Roosevelt Row eatery is anything but typical, and each April they host a very unique event.

They call it the Pinewood Classic. It is a spinoff of the Pinewood Derby, a racing competition traditionally held by Boy Scouts.  With the help of parents or grandparents, children build their own cars from wood, usually from kits containing a block of pine, plastic wheels, and metal axles.

After four successful years in Phoenix, the Pinewood Classic continues to draw in new faces each time it rolls through.

“The great thing about the Pinewood Classic is it’s grown greatly over the past four years,” Bryan Bazley said. He has attended every Classic so far and doesn’t plan on missing out in the future.

This event costs about $15 to enter, but families can come enjoy the races for free. Many repeat attendees noted how quickly registration filled up this year, saying that if you didn’t register right when the site opened in February, you most likely didn’t get a spot in the race.

“Everyone puts a lot of work and effort into it,” Bazley said. “You see people who are very technical with their cars and then you see people that just make funny cars.”

And these cars aren’t just made in a day. Many contestants work for up to a month on perfecting their creations. This year’s entries included a watermelon car, a skateboard, a ballet slipper and a unicorn.

Griffin Wilson, a first-timer at the Pinewood Classic, said that he and his father spent about a week making his vehicle, which needed a few coats of paint, a Yoda figurine, and weights in order to meet regulation. “It’s red, it has little yellow details, and Yoda!” he exclaimed.

Children of all ages can come out and compete, as well as get their faces painted or pick up a balloon animal. Oliver MacNamara, 3, helped design his car and was excited to watch it roll down the track.

“He really loves Hot Wheels and he loves the movie cars,” said Michael McNamara, Oliver’s father. “I’ve really enjoyed, one, building a car with him, but I also let him design it. He won his first heat and just seeing the smile on his face when he won his first heat, that was totally worth it.”

The event is run by the Short Leash staff, who sell hot dogs inside and donuts outside. Ricky, a Short Leash employee, was in charge of sweeping the track to make sure the cars had a clean finish, literally.

Each car runs down the track against two opponents and the fastest one moves on to the next round until a winner is declared. This year, winners got Tuft & Needle mattresses and gift certificates to local restaurants.

The kids races run from noon until 2:30 and then there is an adult derby from 5-9 p.m. that features beverages from many local breweries and more mature car themes.

The Pinewood Classic will be back next April for its fifth year of creative cars and rambunctious racing. For more information on this unique event, visit http://thepinewoodclassic.com or search for it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 

Downtown Phoenix Retail Destination Getting a Makeover

BY: JORDAN ELDER

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.

Arizona Center patio by Jordan Elder

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.

Arizona Center staircase by Jordan Elder

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.

ASU students walking through the Arizona Center by Jordan Elder

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.

The older face of the Arizona Center will be revamped. By Jordan Elder

“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.

Frog fountains found by the stairs By Jordan Elder

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.

The retail refresh will give the current shops a facelift By Jordan Elder

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.

Arizona Center escalators By Jordan Elder

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.

The plan for the Arizona Center’s new look By Jordan Elder

Arizona Center Renovation infographic (JMC 305)

BY: Jordan Elder

The Arizona Center in Downtown Phoenix is getting a makeover! Right now it is a hotspot for visitors, but once renovations are finished in October 2017, it will be a hotspot for tourists and locals alike.

Valet parking and an additional parking structure will help ease the flow of traffic getting into the center, as well all make it easier for people to stop and walk through.

Arizona Real Estate Magazine describes the renovations as an effort to “take the current introverted space and open it to the surrounding streets and the urban neighborhood, creating a more interactive and spontaneous experience that connects to the existing fabric of downtown Phoenix.”

This will be accomplished by adding new shops and restaurants as well as revamping the current tenants. New meeting spaces and educational facilities will also be constructed. The goal is to turn the Center into a fun place to visit for all ages.

Families can visit the Arizona Center to see a movie at the AMC Theater, have a sit down dinner at one of the many restaurants, play in the fountains and new grassy areas or enjoy a shopping trip.

Kansas City, MO Photo Gallery

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.

Previous Work

Jordan Elder’s Reel

Doggie Days Adoption Festival Slideshow

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Best Buddies Promo–featured on the national Best Buddies organization website

Connect Respect Protect commercial–4th Place STN fall competition 2016

Weather Reporting Sample–2015 STN national champion

Sports Reporting–2015 STN national champion

2015 Royals World Series Parade

2016 News and Documentary Emmy Awards

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.


We got to sightsee on the way to our hotel

And then we arrived to the gala


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.

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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.

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Meeting Scott Pelley for the first time

 

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.

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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.

Innovation Day at Cronkite

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.