This Could Be PHX seeks to change the way the public thinks about downtown


If you were to ask a housewife out in the ‘burbs about Phoenix, you might get a boots-quaking, nose-turned-up response about downtown being dirty, unsafe and boring. Younger people know that downtown is slowly becoming the heartbeat of the Valley.

Ryan Tempest, a local architect, and Quinn Whissen, a designer and entrepreneur, know that better than anyone. Together they want to spread the word to the outskirts of town that downtown is not just safe, but totally awesome as well with This Could Be PHX.

College Times: How do you explain This Could Be PHX to someone who has never heard of it?

Tempest and Whissen, via email: This Could Be Phoenix is a community engagement and urban awareness group working to help make downtown Phoenix awesome—awesome as in a livable, walkable, thriving and vibrant urban core. We talk with the community on social media to understand what the future of Phoenix looks like to them and create Envision Projects that actually show the possibilities of a vacant lot or empty building. We help people imagine the future of our city together and hope that one day our visions can actually come to life.

What do you tell people who say Phoenix has no culture?

You’re wrong. But we can’t blame you for thinking that. After all, downtown Phoenix didn’t used to be how it is today. A lot of the area was truly a ghost town, and most people wouldn’t be caught going downtown for anything but a sports game. But at the same time, there were tons of art, fashion, and music events going on…you just had to do a little more work to find it. Things are more visible now, but we still have work to do. What downtown Phoenix has plenty of is community. It’s a community that strives to bring a lively, organic culture to the area and make a uniquely Phoenix area that people want to come to.

What kind of businesses do you think downtown is lacking?

There’s one big gaping hole in downtown businesses: retail. What a livable urban core needs is places to purchase your daily needs–and some things that might not be so necessary, but sure are fun. Most of all we need a grocery store. There is no place to buy fresh food in the core other than the farmer’s markets, and all residents currently have to leave downtown to buy bananas, meat, cheese, etc. To truly make a place people want and can feasibly live, we need to bring in those things that don’t make people leave to get it elsewhere.

Learn more about This Could Be Phoenix and how to get involved at



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