Roosevelt Row: Phoenix, Arizona


In the sprawling metropolis that is Phoenix, Roosevelt Row has emerged as a pinnacle example of how good planning can relieve some of the negative effects that come with horizontal expansion. Historic single-family and multifamily homes highlight the unique southwestern architecture and give distinct character to Roosevelt Row. Additionally, transit-oriented infill development and a vibrant arts scene have made Roosevelt Row a highly desirable place to live, work, and visit.

Designated Area

Roosevelt Row's boundaries are referenced as anywhere within 15 minutes walking distance from the Light Rail Station at Central and Roosevelt. These roughly extend to 7th Street, 7th Avenue, McDowell, and Fillmore.

Cyclists park their DIVY Bikes at the DeSoto Market, a collection of local shops that came together in a rehabilitated space

Cyclists park their GRID Bikes at the DeSoto Market, a collection of local shops that came together in a rehabilitated space. Photo Brandi Porter.

Planning Excellence

This diverse community has experienced an incredible transformation in its arts scene and economic development over the past 10 years. Roosevelt Row has a strong Latino presence that is reflected in its murals and local artwork. The area hosts theater, performance, live music, and visual arts throughout each month. Gallery openings are held once a month on every Third Friday. More than 20,000 people attend First Friday, allowing local artists and vendors to be showcased on streets closed to cars, and residents gain a new perspective of the neighborhood on foot.

A light rail system, which has outperformed expectations, helps connect Roosevelt Row to many other parts of the metro area and has also spurred denser growth. From its earliest days, Roosevelt Row has been a vital mixed-use area. Other sustainability-focused initiatives like a bike share and adaptive reuse all contribute to the innovative character of the district.

In 2002, community members started advocating for changes that would bring a stronger pedestrian focus to the streets in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood. East Roosevelt Street between Central Avenue and Fourth Street is in the heart of the neighborhood. After nearly 10 years, this corridor in downtown Phoenix is a Complete Street, featuring a bike lane and wider sidewalks lined with trees, new outdoor patio dining, and public art. The second phase of the project will begin in the fall of 2015. These improvements have come from community members who are invested in creating more opportunities for pedestrians and local businesses in Roosevelt Row.

There are a number of events that bring the local and surrounding communities together in Roosevelt Row. For example, people here celebrate the Pie Social

There are a number of events that bring the local and surrounding communities together in Roosevelt Row. Here, people celebrate the Pie Social. Photo Andrew Pielage.

Defining Characteristics, Features

Roosevelt Row is a strong example of bringing density, transit, and an eclectic mix of arts and culture back into a neighborhood adjacent to Phoenix's Central Business District.

  • Roosevelt Row is one of the most visible neighborhoods in Phoenix because of its flourishing arts scene. Once a month, local artists showcase their work during First Friday — a massive event that attracts thousands of people and supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. On other days, over 200 local businesses still keep the area bustling with activity.
  • The Metro Light Rail has a popular stop in Roosevelt Avenue. The Roosevelt/Central Avenue Arts District station had almost 500,000 passengers in FY 2014, and ridership has been increasing every year since the 2009 opening. The new transit system is also helping bring density back to the area, with new mixed-use developments popping up all around the station.
  • Roosevelt Row showcases many architecturally significant single-family homes. In addition, older warehouses and industrial buildings have been inhabited by artists, galleries, restaurants, bars, music shops, and other boutiques.
  • Planning is driving development in Phoenix, and especially so in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood. The Roosevelt Neighborhood's Special District Plan (1989), Policy Plan for the Phoenix Arts District (1991), Downtown Strategic Vision (2004), and Roosevelt Row Design Guidelines (2011) are all examples of conscious planning efforts that work in concert to promote sustainable, walkable, and transit-oriented infill development that preserves the character of the neighborhood.
  • Adaptive Re-Use of Temporary Space (A.R.T.S) Program is a program launched to address urban blight in downtown Phoenix. This project focuses on putting vacant lots into productive use. A.R.T.S projects can include arts and crafts markets, gardens, public art, cultural festivals, outdoor films, and concerts. One A.R.T.S. project, Valley of the Sunflowers, planted two acres of sunflowers on vacant city-owned land. The flowers transformed how people thought of downtown and created a new temporary destination. BioScience High School students harvested the seeds and produced biofuel for a hybrid solar/biofuel vehicle that they designed and built.


  • Roosevelt Row hosts First Friday, one of the nation's largest art walks, once a month from 6–11 p.m. There are free shuttles available throughout downtown and at the Phoenix Art Museum. Third Fridays showcase exhibition openings in the many galleries in the district. Other Fridays boast performances and artist spotlights.

Pertinent Plans and Documents

Downtown Strategic Vision

Roosevelt Row Design Guidelines

Roosevelt Row Community Survey and Visioning

The Light Rail in Phoenix has contributed greatly to both infill development and access to Roosevelt Row

The Light Rail in Phoenix has contributed greatly to both infill development and access to Roosevelt Row. Photo Valley Metro.

 Planning Activities

  • Phoenix was the host city for APA's 2016 National Planning Conference.