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 Rio Reimagined Project

​The Rio Salado and the surrounding area has a rich cultural history and was first settled by the Hohokam over 2000 years ago. The Hohokam created a canal system that the river fed, and this system allowed them to settle throughout the Salt River Valley. After World War II, many of the cities adjacent to this river and others that feed into it such as the Agua Fria and the Gila River transitioned from farming communities into commercial centers. During this time more than 200 sand and gravel operations located in the floodplain and between the banks of the three rivers. The area along the riverbeds became a dumping ground as more people moved in and business and residential development generated waste and disposal in abandoned mining pits was cheap and easy.  Industrial facilities also dot the banks of the river.

The Rio Reimagined Project is a vision to revitalize the Rio Salado (Salt River), Aqua Fria and Gila Rivers, and the region by transforming over 45 miles of the river stretching from the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community at the eastern most boundary to the City of Buckeye to the west and encompassing more than 78,000 acres. The project aspires to reconnect the community with the river, to establish a unified vision, to be a catalyst for economic growth and inclusion, and to build a unique regional destination. Leaders of eight river communities demonstrated their commitment to moving Rio Reimagined forward by signing a Statement of Intent in 2018. With Arizona State University (ASU) as community convener contributing financial, intellectual and organizational resources, and the eight communities directing the vision, the journey has begun.​​

Phoenix Wins a Rio Reimagined Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant!

EPA announced that the City of Phoenix will receive a $600,000 brownfields grant with the cities of Avondale, Tempe, and ASU.  The City of Phoenix, as the lead applicant is excited to partner with the other cities and with ASU to pave the way for development of the river corridor.  This brownfields grant will be a key to realizing the Rio Reimagined vision of a community connected to the river with economic growth, environmental stewardship, and access for all.  A greater understanding and knowledge of the environmental conditions for the Rio Reimagined Project area is needed as a first step towards understanding the barriers and opportunities for revitalization of the river itself and the area beyond the banks.

The target area for the grant is within 1.0 mile of the Salt River (Rio Salado), Agua Fria and Gila Rivers within the cities of Tempe, Phoenix and Avondale, Arizona. Although there is enormous potential for future development, according to the Arizona Dept of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and EPA at least 1,189 properties in this area have environmental records and are potential brownfields. These properties create slum and blight, discourage investment and represent potential exposure to toxic contaminants that damage the health of residents.

 Del Rio Area Brownfields Land Use Plan

Cover page of Brownfields Plan document​​Map of Del Rio Area

The Del Rio Area Brownfields Land Use Plan ​(en Español​) w​as completed in 2012.  The plan outlines the community's vision for redevelopment of brownfield sites located in the area from Rio Salado south to Broadway Road, and between 7th avenue and 7th Street.  The three key brownfields sites include:

  1. the City-owned Del Rio Landfill located at approximately Elwood and 7th Street;
  2. the privately-owned former auto salvage and landfill site located at Central and south of the Rio Salado Audubon Nature Center.
  3. the privately-owned former sand and gravel and landfill site located west of Central and south of the river to 7th Avenue.

The plan was developed after extensive community visioning and planning workshops and was adopted as part of the 2015 general plan, PlanPHX.  Future development within the area should reflect the guidelines established in the plan.​​