Downtown Tempe's Mill Avenue was honored Wednesday as one of the nation's Top 10 Great Streets for 2008.
The American Planning Association bestowed this mark of respect through its program Great Places in America, which are communities of lasting value created by planners and planning, and exemplified by exceptional character.
"Mill Avenue provides Tempe with an eclectic urban oasis that embraces both the past and the present, and show how sensitive redevelopment can blend historic preservation with present-day needs," APA executive director Paul Farmer said.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman praised the recognition is an affirmation of the long-term success enjoyed by the "community's living room." He has been instrumental in promoting a live-work-play ethos for Mill, which has resulted in a push toward more housing and offices nearby.
"The street itself has always been a commercial district," Hallman said. "But what it needed to survive was the residential and business components behind it to supply a baseline of economic activity."
The president of APA's Arizona chapter, Jill Kusy, said the mixed-use aspect impressed her organization.
"That's part of the evolution story of Mill Avenue," Kusy said. "The residential component coming in is going to add to the 24-hour diverse, eclectic nature of the street."
Nancy Hormann, president and executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community, echoed this with her theory of the "three Mill Avenues."
She said there are the daytime business population, the evening dining and entertainment crowd, and the late-night revelers partying in the bars and clubs.
But Hallman said there is a fourth community: the early-morning joggers and dog-walkers, the construction workers stopping for coffee en route to their jobs and other taking advantage of the day's awakening. Those were evident during Wednesday's announcement, timed to coincide with the APA's national news release at 8 a.m. Eastern time.
Other streets receiving the honor are Seventh Avenue in Ybor City, Tampa, Fla.; Broad Street in Philadelphia; Clarendon and Wilson boulevards in Arlington, Va.; Commercial Street in Portland, Maine; Main Street in Annapolis, Md.; South El Paso Street in El Paso, Texas; Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minn.; Washington Street in Boston; and West Main Street in Louisville, Ky.
Also lauded was another Arizona location, Prescott's Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, as a Top 10 Great Public Space.