Phoenix resident starts petition to stop removal of ficus trees at Renaissance Square

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Phoenix resident has started a petition to prevent the owner of Renaissance Square from removing large ficus trees in their plaza.

Just a few steps away from light rail, Renaissance Square is an oasis welcome to anyone in the downtown Phoenix area. It was even listed in the Top 10 Shadiest Places Downtown in 2015.

"There are places to eat and places to gather," said Stacey Champion who works downtown.

But when Champion heard the owner of the building plans to remove these eight ficus trees Saturday morning and replace them with date palms, she started the petition on Change.org.

"I would hope that if you were coming into this city to do any kind of business, that you would want to be a good steward," Champion said.

She admits that some of the trees have seen better days.

"Some of these trees are not well," Champion said.

She said she wants the ficus trees replaced with large, mature shade trees, instead of palm trees.

"The people who live and work here, I think, all would love this city to have more shade," Champion said.

Cypress Office Properties sent us the following statement:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Renaissance Square. Cypress Office Properties, LLC and Hines GS are committed to sustainability, the environment, and to improving the neighborhood experience in and around Renaissance Square.  We have heard the community concerns regarding the removal of eight ficus trees in the planters on the plaza of Renaissance Square.  We are making every effort to mitigate negative environmental impacts and loss of shade through the replacement of these trees.  That said, our landscape consultants have concluded that the trees in question are either dead or approaching the end of their useful life due to the shallow depth of the planting beds and limited root zone, and allowing these trees to remain presents a safety issue.  We appreciate that the community is concerned about the trees at Renaissance Square and we have been thoughtful in our approach to replace them with plants that will provide shade, beauty and longevity so that the neighborhood can continue to enjoy all that downtown and Renaissance Square have to offer.

We emailed them back, asking if they were moving forward with installing date palm trees instead; we have yet to hear back.

The city's Planning & Development Director, Alan Stephenson, sent us the following statement:

 The owner does own the courtyard and in fact it sits on top of the parking structure. The 1987 site plan just label those planting areas as landscaping. Since that is all that was on the site plan the property owner is able to replace the existing landscaping with new landscaping. 

Our current site plans are much more detailed and that would likely trigger a site plan amendment but back then that was all that was required.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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