North Central Phoenix is more than just a neighborhood for the Hickman Family

Kate Hickman, like many Phoenix residents, moved to the Valley from Chicago.

A while ago, though: She was 5, and it’s safe to say the Central Phoenix neighborhood where she grew up made a lasting impression on her. She left after high school to go to college at the University of Alabama, and she had her first daughter there. But she knew that Alabama wasn’t going to be the place for them. “I knew I didn’t want to raise her there,” she said of her daughter, “and came back.”

Not just back – back to North Central Phoenix. Where else?

“I will tell you, for me, it never occurred to me to live anywhere else,” Kate, the senior vice president for Alliance Bank of Arizona, said. Not long ago she married Paul Hickman, and they could have lived anywhere in the Valley. Except not really – in reality there wasn’t really any question where they and their new family would reside.

Her house, in North Central Phoenix.

“She grew up in that area,” Paul said, and he was perfectly fine with the decision.

“I like it,” he said of the area. “I like it a lot.”

Paul is the president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association. The Hickmans live near Northern and Central avenues, and both work downtown. The central location was a big plus. It’s an easy drive from home to work and back for them, and they don’t have to worry about freeway congestion. “I can get downtown on the surface streets in 20 minutes,” Paul said.

Not without a couple of stops along the way, however. Paul noted the nearby AJ’s Fine Foods where he can grab a lunch if he has time. Plus, “there’s a Dutch Bros. across the street. That works for me.”

To Kate, of course, this area has always been home, and she likes that it’s going to be that way for her family, as well. Her kids are in the Madison School District “and actually had some of the same teachers” she did, “which is really cool – there’s a sense of loyalty in this neighborhood. People who move into Central Phoenix stay.”

Or if they leave, they come back.

Of course, while the Hickmans are happy with the traffic patterns and the school district, those are not the only reasons they live where they do. They like a lot of other aspects of their neighborhood, as well – including the fact that it seems more like a true neighborhood than some of the more-recent developments that have sprung up all over the Valley.

“It’s pretty,” Paul said. “It’s old and it’s landscaped, beautiful homes. All of the amenities are there.”

There are pizza places, burger restaurants and more, places like Shake Shack and Sauce Pizza & Wine. Kate, too, likes that.

It’s nice because we’ve recently gotten a lot of restaurants that have moved into this area,” she said. “A lot of locally owned restaurants, not chains – it’s a very locally based neighborhood.”

It’s also a great place to stay active. Paul mentioned Butler Park as a particular favorite place to go to get outdoors. “I love that park,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

Kate feels the same way about Murphy’s Bridal Path.

“I love the Bridal Path,” she said. “I think the Bridal Path is one of the coolest things Phoenix has to offer.” But not just for exercise. It’s also key to what she considers one of the best things the area has to offer – the chance for her children to play outside, tool around the neighborhood on their bikes, a throwback to when that wasn’t unusual. Her children bike and walk to school, and they use the same modes of transportation to meet and play with their friends.

“You can send your kids off down Central Avenue and they’re not riding down a busy street,” she said. “So many neighborhoods don’t have that.”

Hers does.

“It allows your kids to have a little more freedom,” she said.

Add all that up and you understand why the Hickmans made the choice they made when it came to choosing a home. It was North Central Phoenix all the way.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kate said. “It’s why we live where we live.”