New life, new jobs at Luhrs City Center in downtown Phoenix

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Phoenix's historic Luhrs Building, Tower and Arcade just received a multi-year and multi-million dollar restoration project.

Tony Verdugo of Tony the Barber has been cutting hair in the Luhrs Building for 47 years.

"It's a completely new downtown here. Like the CityScape, completely new. A lot of stuff, new stuff. More people coming downtown," Verdugo said.

And now the 90-year-old Luhrs City Center looks different -- from inside at least -- after a major makeover at the landmark block between Central and First avenues and Jefferson and Madison streets.

"This is retail space, one of a kind, sort of historic retail space," said Billy Shields of Luhrs City Center. "It opens up onto busy city streets and the light rail going by."

The Luhrs City Center is 80 percent occupied, mostly with boutique law offices.

But the building is looking for streetside tenants.

"The urban energy in downtown Phoenix has hit full tilt and we saw that coming," Shields said. "If you take what we've got here is the culmination of classic, historic, downtown high-rise buildings with the modern. These high-rise buildings are from the roaring '20s -- high rises that don't exist between L.A. and New York."

One such tenant, Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor, already moved in.

"I would say when you can live and work in any downtown, you've definitely got a bustle that's not been there before in Phoenix," said Ross Simon of Bitter and Twisted.

Simon loves his locals, who live across the street at the Palomar, and can't wait for the Luhrs City Center Marriott to come in soon.

"Right now, 450 jobs being created from the construction over the next two years. That's a pretty good pay day for people that need construction work, but an ongoing basis, the hotel itself will create 150 jobs," Shields said.

That will bring more workers and guests to downtown Phoenix and maybe more clients to the Luhrs Building's most loyal tenant, Tony the Barber.

"A lot of changes, but it's good. It's good for downtown," Verdugo said.