Aric and Matt at the site of The Farm at Los OlivosThe Farm at Los Olivos in Phoenix Arizona has people talking. What’s the buzz all about? Here I’m going to present and unpack this plan as I see it from my perspective. I’ll share comments from neighbors below. Some of us are for this, and others are against this.

Maybe you are one of the decided. If not I hope that this post helps you will arrive at the decision that seems right for you. On March 22nd the final decision was made to do this thing. There was a meeting to be held by the City of Phoenix Parks Board. The location is 200 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix AZ 85007. The meeting was well attended. In fact, the room was standing room only. The crowd support for the farm was overwhelming. The opposition was weak and never really stood a chance IMO.

📢 Your Voice Was Heard!

Flyer for The Farm at Los Olivos Parks Board Meeting March 22nd at 5pm. Location: 200 W. Jefferson St Phoenix AZ 85007

Aric & Matt – Friends with Vision

There’s a farmer/artist and a hospitality guy. They both love art and design. They both care about the farm-to-table concept.

They see that elite dining experiences seen in the farm to table movement are always beyond the budget of middle America. Here at Los Olivos they aim to change that.

Listen in as Aric, Matt, & John discuss how the idea for this organic farm concept is gaining steam and driving them to bring this to our neighborhood.

This is going to be far beyond a community farm. The land will be professionally farmed. There will be an education center and concessions. The sense of design that Matt and Aric care so much about will be expressed in the architecture that will be so important. The team is all in on making this a top-flight development that will add to the community and bring a place where people from our neighborhood increasingly want to be.

🥕 How Organic Food Galvanizes Us

 

Friends enjoying an evening meal outsideTheir onsite farmed organic food will be something that everyone living in the neighborhood can afford and enjoy.

They both see how powerful food is and how it brings people together.

We who support this project believe that it will spark other positive activity that will bring about more use of the park. Most of the people who are looking forward to this think that this is going to invite the kind of vibe that people are craving.

Many think that they will spend more time at the park because the farm will make a great place to hang out with friends and family.

Next, we’ll see how Matt & Aric went from being total strangers to committed partners in the Farm at Los Olivos endeavor.

💡 From Friends to Game Changers

One day a mutual friend realized that these two guys should meet. That’s when Aric Mei and Matthew Moore struck up their great friendship.

That’s when their vision for Los Olivos began to take root in their subconscious minds like a germinating seed below the surface of the soil.

They met at Aric’s house when planning a fundraiser for Matt’s digital farm collective. The two became instant pals. It wasn’t long before they began sharing concepts.

It wasn’t until the City of Phoenix issued a solicitation for this concept that the wheels really started turning.

The city put out an RFP (request for proposal) to people who subscribed to a database that was designed to solicit bids for various projects around the city. This is when all of the conversations and shared ideas between these two forged their vision for the Farm at Los Olivos.

I’ll bet that Matt didn’t imagine this Los Olivos Organic farm  when he was giving his TEDx Talk in Manhattan. Now, he and Aric stand shoulder to shoulder as they go through the process of realizing this great intention.

🌭 Change the Way We Eat – Matt’s TEDx Talk


🗣 Neighbors Share Opinions About Their Park

🙅‍♂️ Public Criticisms

Thoughts from Chris Taylor

I have lived in. The area for fifty years and enjoyed a great place to either exercise or relax and my kids too for a major part of that time. Hear goes. Traffic is bad and. Indian school and surrounding streets are backed up morning , noon and death time in afternoon from good folks getting home to jump in now without some traffic study besides phx transportation gathering data and with all new construction is reckless.

I call improvements to such a growing population and with future consideration to growth maybe a basketball court / tennis court ect ect a better way to protect this rare gem park a better way to protect it’s future and less impact than a possible 18 months of construction that in most ways while waiting stressful for the senior’s and the people who use it. 

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I most also now get this out a private venture without signed provisions on there end to deliver other than 3 and half years free rent without any parks and rec department revenue a give away for the prime spot along 28th st footage and the fact that the city of Phoenix and such partners get a least a C- on grade after completion as one party or the other failing to deliver it’s end and being a business that will serve there best interests .

Thoughts from Jean Alley

I am firmly opposed to dedicating four plus (4+ )acres of our community park for commercial purposes. Why would the city of Phoenix be in favor of promoting competition for the tax paying restaurants and coffee houses that are nearby.

In the present building boom in Phoenix, there is less and less open land. We need more land preserved for the use of our citizens. Breaking up the land in the park to “develop” so they can grow vegetables and have a restaurant is a travesty. What if the restaurant concept doesn’t succeed? Restaurants have a very high failure rate. 

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As you are aware, Phoenix has few large acreage parks and most of them are in newer developments. Why would we make the one here in central Phoenix smaller? With the construction of so many high density homes, condominiums and apartments nearby, Los Olivos Park will have increased usage and families will need places to work off their energy and enjoy the outside.

Thoughts from Katherine Hills

Excessive Power possessed by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board The Phoenix Parks and Recreation board (made up of 7 individuals) utilizing the “City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board Alternate Park Land Use Policy Number 2.9 Adopted: 8/25/2016” (which they created and approved), using the words “undeveloped public park land” and “recreational purposes” have been given free reign to put whatever they want in Phoenix public parks. 

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There appears to be no oversight by the City Council or the Mayor. The Parks and Recreation department simply report what they are doing to the council once a month. With regard to this proposed project, councilman Sal DeCiccio and Mayor Stanton’s offices haven’t given opposers the courtesy of a response to multiple phone calls and e-mails. Lack of timely and meaningful notification by the Parks and Recreation Department to Phoenix residents resulting in incomplete community input Until very recently, the Parks and Recreation department made no sincere effort in notifying Phoenix residents of this proposed project, nor did they invite public discourse and debate. A resident was expected to know of this proposed project how? • Checking the Parks and Recreation website daily? In what universe do normal folks do that? • Attending a so-called community meeting? Only if they happened to see such an invite on social media and interpret “come support this project” as an invitation to debate. The Parks and Recreation department left notification up to the proposers by virtue of an RPF requirement to notify everyone within a 2-mile radius of the park in order to “gather support.” There were no requirements as to verbiage in the notification or the form of notification (i.e. official letter vs. promotional material). What the proposers mailed out was an oversized post card that looked like junk mail announcing the farm was coming. It contained no verbiage as to the process, nor an invitation to discourse or debate. Furthermore, the proposers failed to meet this RFP requirement in that I do not believe everyone within a 2-mile radius received the mailer. In my case this happened times two homes within this radius. This process is lacking any kind of validation that notification, however deceptive, took place. The city provides a list to the proposers and the proposers say they mailed something to everyone on this list. There is no proof of delivery in this design and no way to audit whether-or-not a mailing took place. Due to the lack of a meaningful notification process and exclusionary meeting times the city is not getting the full view of the opposition to this project, and I don’t think they care or want to know. Pimping out Public Park space to a full-blown for-profit commercial business. No matter how the city dresses up this project, it is clearly motivated by one thing: A Lust for Money! Pimping out our public parks for a small share of potential revenue is whorish and short-sited. The feel-good aspects of the Urban Farm concept are simply tools the city is using to install a revenue generation machine on top of one of the city’s most beautiful parks. If the current trend was something else, like papier-maché garden sculpture, we would be arguing over where to put the recycled newspaper, and which paste recipe was best. The city wants something new, bright, shiny, and trendy to make them look successful. The community’s long term need for green-space and the negative effects on the neighbors and the surrounding neighborhood be damned! Permanent Reduction in Open Green-Space Covering up functionally ¼ of Los Olivos Park with a full-blown for-profit commercial business completely ignores the future need for green-space in this fast-growing neighborhood. An increasing population, logically, will require maintaining green space not reducing it. It also communicates a complete disregard for public park space. Unacknowledged Costs to the City While proposers will put up the capital to build this project, there will be costs associated with the project approval, construction, and operation of this commercial business that the city is not acknowledging nor including in their promotion to the public. There will be complaints of all kinds directed to the city as this project is in a public park. The city will expend resources dealing with complaints throughout the life of this project. The addition of a new commercial business will add to the work load of first responders dealing with theft, vandalism, auto accidents, public drunkenness, drunk driving, etc. There will be litigation. While the city and the proposers may hold each other “harmless” in a lease and/or contract, this will not insulate either party from individual or class action 3rd party litigation. This will require spending city funds and the use of city resources to handle litigation. Lastly, everything this project promises is within 233 (short-person sized) steps from the proposed site. Therefore, this project does not fill a recreational need. The Senior Center already conducts classes in urban farming and even built a large planter for this purpose. The shopping center at E. 28th Street and Indian School includes a Sprouts Farmers Market emphasizing organic foods and fresh produce along with six restaurants and a Starbucks. Everything the proposed project touts as “needed” is already there.

Thoughts from Danny Luster

4 acres in that area would easily go for around 4 million. Now a 7% 30 yr amortized commercial loan for that property would normally have monthly payment of around $26,613.00 and a year that would be $319,356.00 and over 3 years that would be $958,068.00 and then a balloon payment is due for the balance aprox. $3,680,000 at around year 7. 

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Not to mention around 1% origination fee and around .3% fee per year. So yes there is a small correction…. 4 million+ lended and $958,068.00 of no payments made in 3 years essentially giving this group just 42,000 shy of a million dollars. And some of these people for this are the ones who were all up in arms about The Donald’s dad lending him a million to start his career. (It was his dad, not the parks and Rec department). Talk about privileged. Parks and Rec giving you essentially a million dollars. Oh and I forgot to mention who is the guarantor? Aric??? Or is this a non recourse type of thing?

 

🙆 Public Applause

Thoughts from Jason Boblick

If it’s helpful, I’ll give you some quick background. I’m married with three boys (ages 5, 2, and 1 month). My wife and I have lived three blocks north of the park for almost nine years now. We love our neighborhood. Our oldest son goes to Villa Montessori less than half a mile from our home. When the time comes, our plan is that the other two boys will follow in his footsteps to Villa.
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Community is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about The Farm at Los Olivos because Los Olivos Park ought to be a community center. It certainly has that potential. But it hasn’t met that potential yet. We visit Los Olivos all the time, usually multiple times on the weekends. Unfortunately, the park is usually mostly empty with fewer than 50 people out and about. Two weekends ago, I took one of my sons to the playground and we were the only two people there for more than an hour in the middle of a typically perfect Phoenix day in February. Los Olivos is remarkably empty most of the time. The Farm at Los Olivos has the potential to draw people out of their homes and into the community at large. In speaking to my neighbors, many agree that it has the potential to be our community center–a place to sit down to read a book within the garden while grabbing a cup of coffee. If it achieves that goal, public health in the area will benefit. Simply moving, being outside in a pastoral setting, and breaking bread with neighbors will do wonders for all of us. The Farm will encourage those activities. Finally, I think The Farm will be great for the children in our community. In my view, kids should be on their feet and outside as much as possible. I’ve mentioned before on NextDoor that the restaurant/cafe will allow families of young kids to extend their park visits. My oldest son plays park district soccer. If The Farm is approved and we have a nice onsite option for some healthy food, we will be doing just that and doing so with other families after soccer. Moreover, The Farm will be partnering with local schools–including Villa Montessori where my oldest son attends–to teach the kids about farming, healthy plant-based eating, and community. I may have rose-colored glasses, but I’m an optimist. And I’ve spoken to Aric and Matt. This is their passion project. It isn’t a get-rich scheme as some seem to suggest. In the end, I truly believe The Farm at Los Olivos will build community spirit, encourage healthy life habits within that community, and meaningfully improve our children’s lives. I guess that’s why I am a supporter of the Farm project. I plan to be at the meeting on March 22 in support of The Farm. Thanks John.

Thoughts from Carolyn Lavendar

I love the concept of eating vegetables that came out of the ground that day. Which is making agriculture visible within the City, instead of having it located on the outskirts of town. I love that it will expose all the regular park visitors to healthy concessions rather than the greasy corndog type food you often find. This is geared toward the average person, not the privileged who already experience the farm to table concept.
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I love the location, which is a convenient vibrant area, that is not as difficult as going downtown. We need such a novel project in this area, where we have lots of great restaurants, but nothing with this type of experience. I have decided to invest myself in volunteering for this project because I know both Aric and Matt. I know what each of them is capable of and what a loss it would be if this project were not to happen.

Thoughts from Joe Contreras

  • I think the project will add vibrancy and fresh modern amenities to the park
  • I believe the park is underutilized at the moment and that every single friend I have in the neighborhood shares this opinion and is for the project
  • I think that these city partnerships are a good idea so long as the plan is well thought out and contingencies are in place if things don’t happen as expected.

Thoughts from Kevin Apellidoprivado

Of course, I think it’s very exciting for our neighborhoods in this part of Phoenix to have interest from developers in bringing an amenity/business like this to Los Olivos park. I think this will raise the level of use of the park by a wide variety of people who may not be currently using the park aware or even aware of its existence and that’s only going to be a good thing!

📈 How Will The Farm at Los Olivos Impact Home Values

We are a affected by our surroundings. That goes double for real estate. Having open park space is valuable. We can all agree on that. Like it or not how that space is utilized matters. Popularity and vitality boosts positive feelings about places. In turn that breeds confidence in neighborhoods. This is the very thing that makes people want to live in certain communities. Having gathering places that act as magnets sends a surge into home values.

Dig the Neighborhood? | Want to Live Near Los Olivos

🏠 Available Homes Near Los Olivos park


If you have more questions or thoughts about The Farm at Los Olivos Please chime in. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

📢 Yelper Corey W Weighs in on the Farm

Read Corey W.‘s review of Los Olivos Park on Yelp

💪 Yelper Wayne V Gives Kudos to the Park

Read Wayne V.‘s review of Los Olivos Park on Yelp

🌊 Yelper Terra V – Hopes for a Splashpad

Read Terra V.‘s review of Los Olivos Park on Yelp

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