Revitalization gives Miracle Mile on McDowell a second chance
Drivers stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on McDowell Road often miss the shops between Seventh and 20th streets. The unique shops, some that have been there for years, others brand new, are on a road nicknamed Miracle Mile.
The paint is still drying on the walls inside La Bohemia coffee shop, which is gearing up for a Spring grand opening. 33-year-old Alejandro Larios, who grew up in the area as a teenager, shared what makes opening a business on Miracle Mile so special to him.“I remember thinking why isn’t this street like popping, these buildings look so cool,” Larios said. “Thinking of the potential I couldn’t comprehend why all these buildings were vacant. Now I’m opening a coffee shop, it’s like a dream come true for sure.”
Larios’s specialty coffee shop, La Bohemia, is one of the many new businesses opening on Miracle Mile, but the history of the mile reaches back to the 1950s.
According to mmmphx.com, Miracle Mile McDowell was considered a glamorous street in the 1950s. Business increased to meet the needs of new residents moving to Downtown Phoenix, with an early emphasis on catering to the needs of its neighbors.
By the late 1950s, with the development of Phoenix’s first mall, Park Central, there were only five businesses left on the mile. In 1989, the widening of McDowell road eliminated parking spots and the increased speed limit caused residents to drive through faster, and businesses suffered.
Trellis, a nonprofit organization located on Miracle Mile, shares a vision with the community and small businesses for the potential of the road and has been working towards revitalizing the mile for the past five years.
Trellis opened 45 years ago with the mission of stabilizing homes and communities. They’ve assisted in historic neighborhoods near Miracle Mile including the Coronado neighborhood, and helped form their neighborhood association. Their mission of stable homeownership also falls in line with stable communities.
Michael Kelly, commercial corridor coordinator at Trellis, spoke more on how the nonprofit is helping with the revitalization of Miracle Mile.
“We want to keep people here, not only small businesses, but also our neighbors,” Kelly said. “With our homeownership programs and our counseling, we can address that.”
Wells Fargo and Banner University Medical Center Phoenix both provided $50,000 in grants to Trellis to help with community events, staffing and art projects to enhance Miracle Mile’s charm.
The neighborhood has reintroduced a community event originally from the 1950s called “Miracle Mile Days.” This annual event started up again on November 16, 2019. Kelly spoke on the positive impact Miracle Mile Days recently had on business owners.
“We hired 45 artists: musicians, acrobats, stilt walkers. There was live painting, and a huge mural being painted at the same time,” Kelly said. “The business owners saw a huge uptick in their sales.”
Edgar Fernandez and Jeff Slim, the artists behind the mural “Cultivating Unity,” talked about their hopes for the future of Miracle Mile.
“We wanted to highlight the businesses that are here as well as the individuals who have migrated to the area,” Slim said. “I’m just hoping that there is a constant connection with the community.”
For more information about businesses and events, check out the Miracle Mile Association’s Facebook page.