The future of the Miracle Mile is bright as a coalition of partners that has been working together for four years to help revitalize the area, support small business growth and new investment in the corridor. Trellis, a local community development corporation, is helping to lead the support and revitalization for the McDowell corridor with guidance from the LISC, a National Nonprofit Intermediary that supports projects to revitalize communities and help bring greater economic opportunity to residents. , Trellis has also hired a commercial corridor coordinator to direct the efforts and partnerships along the corridor. As a collaborative effort in the revitalization of McDowell Rd. the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA), McDowell Road Revitalization Committee has formed long-term public-private partnerships to identify Issues, develop strategies, and provide ongoing outreach to the community and Miracle Mile since 2015. Recently the efforts of the Miracle Mile on McDowell have been the recipient of several large grants: Banner University Medical Center, long-time supporters and partners of the PCA MRRC and Trellis’ corridor efforts awarded Trellis $50,000; Wells Fargo, a long-time partner of Trellis’ mission to ensure all families and people in Arizona have a stable home to live awarded Trellis $50,000 in support of the commercial corridor and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco also supported the efforts with funding for the commercial corridor coordinator.
Miracle Mile on McDowell was described as one of the most glamorous streets in Phoenix. During the 1950’s, the area was first called “Miracle Mile”. Locals walked from one bustling shop to the next for all their needs. Today the eclectic mix of retail spaces provides endless possibilities for re-imagination.
The new Miracle Mile on McDowell is a multicultural area for businesses and restaurants that welcomes all people. Restaurants feature international cuisine such as Ethiopian, Salvadorian, Mexican and Mediterranean, and American cuisine and coffee shops. There are art galleries, nonprofits, and home furnishing stores as well as services like realty or insurance.
Businesses flocked to McDowell Road in the late 1940’s from Downtown Phoenix to meet the needs from the new residents. The original Miracle Mile started at Central on McDowell and continued on to 16th street and expanded to 18th street with the construction of the Miracle Mile Mall in 1954. From its conception until the late 1950’s the street remained one of Phoenix’s most desirable areas, with successful businesses lining McDowell from Central Avenue to 20th street, garnering the title “Miracle Mile”.
The 1950s saw a thriving business community united to serve the surrounding neighborhoods. The McDowell East Business Co-op was comprised of 50 businesses from 14th Street to 20th Street that ran two-page newspaper ads, held events and connected Phoenix to the new Miracle Mile. One of Phoenix’s favorite restaurants got its start on McDowell and still bears the name of the area, Miracle Mile Deli.
Unfortunately, the wonder years for Phoenix’s Miracle Mile started to wane in 1957 with the opening of Phoenix’s first mall and by 1960 there were only 5 businesses left in the co-op.
Park Central Mall was constructed in 1957 nearby at 3rd Avenue and Thomas. Phoenix’s first shopping mall embraced the car culture of the late 1950s and shoppers embraced the new mid-century-modern style buildings and the mall culture. Ralph Haver and Welton Becket and John Schotanus collaborated to design a truly unique set of buildings that housed two story anchors like Goldwater’s and Diamond’s department stores.
The dynamic of the area was shifted even further as Phoenix residents moved away from the downtown adjacent neighborhoods and the McDowell Corridor fell into decades of neglect and blight. Dwindling support resulted in increased vacancies, crime, and blight..
The few neighborhood friendly stores and restaurants struggled through the decades but most did not survive the widening of McDowell in 1989 that not only eliminated parking spaces in front of stores but also increased the speed at which people drove through the former shopping center. Local businesses reported significant lost of revenue because of the construction along McDowell Rd. Brookshires, an Icon that lasted decades on McDowell closed andmany other businesses fled and commercial properties were left vacant for decades.
The City of Phoenix in an effort to revitalize the McDowell Corridor commissioned a piece of art to represent the neighborhood and spur investment. On April 15th, 1991, the McDowell Gateway (Arch), designed by artist Michelle Stuhl, was dedicated. The McDowell Gateway was designed as an abstract white picket fence, pays homage to the St. Louis Arch and gives a nod to the residential family neighborhoods on its borders. The disrupted fence and arch are an embrace that welcomes all instead of acting as a picket fence designed to keep people off your lawn. Though it did not reinvigorate the image of the corridor as the city had intended, some felt as though the gesture proved that the area still holds potential. Despite signs of economic, frictional, physical, and functional blight tied to its history, demographic, and socioeconomic conditions of the surrounding area, the McDowell Corridor has and continues to improve.
The Miracle Mile on McDowell website and branding are made possible due to
the generous donations of time, support and effort from the Phoenix Community Alliance,
the members of the PCA Miracle Mile Revitalization Committee, and Canary a Gould Evans Studio.
The McDowell Road Revitalization Committee is leading efforts to shape and
promote quality revitalization projects in the area along McDowell Road from
Seventh Street to State Route 51.
The McDowell Road Revitalization Committee is a collaborative between
various community partners including Phoenix Community Alliance, Trellis,
various City of Phoenix Departments, neighborhood groups and local
businesses with financial and in-kind support from LISC Phoenix, Banner
University Medical Center, Wells Fargo, the San Francisco Federal Home Loan
Bank, Neighborworks, Chase, APS, Canary Gould Evans, Dig Studio and 850ZIP.
A special Thank You to Canary a Gould Evans Studio for the design of the
Miracle Mile Logos, branding, brand guidelines and website support.