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Downtown Phoenix becoming a 'place to be'

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

If you haven't been through downtown Phoenix lately, you may not recognize it.

For years, local officials have dreamed about creating a city center that would provide around the clock food and entertainment.

From the looks of it that dream is starting to come true.

"It was a ghost town before," said Maggie Hopkins, of Phoenix. "Now, there are things to do all the time."

"A comedy club, the bowling alley, the hotels. They are all springing up around the area," said Sam Timmons, of Scottsdale. "There's definitely a lot going on."

Many of the empty buildings and abandoned parking lots from the 1990s have been replaced by an assortment of shops, restaurants and hotels.

In the past five years, more that $4 billion in new investment money has poured into downtown Phoenix, helping to create three new hotels, at least 50 new restaurants, several new apartments and condos, and ASU's downtown campus.

One of the biggest new developments is City Scape, now considered the heart of downtown, with its assortment of office, retail and residential space.

Jo Marie McDonald is vice president of the Phoenix Community Alliance.

She said that city planners have had this vision for years, but only now is it starting to come together.

"The arts, culture, whether it's a ball game, sports or just going for a walk you want that kind of downtown," McDonald said. "We want a downtown that is for everybody. A place where you can be together, and we're on our way."

However, as different as downtown Phoenix looks now, there's more to come, said McDonald.

Construction is currently under way for 240 new luxury apartments high atop the Kimpton Hotel.

ASU is moving its law school downtown and there are plans in the works to attract a major grocery store.

"Downtown was very deserted 10 to 15 years ago," said McDonald. "Today, you don't see that."

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