Sunnyslope, Arizona, is the place to be.

Once it was the northern edge of Phoenix, and now it’s a nifty little destination almost smack dab in the middle of everywhere. For new folks to the Valley and those who never leave their neighborhoods, Sunnyslope is bordered by Northern Avenue on its southern edge, Cactus Road on the north side, 19th Avenue to the west and 16th Street (or 22nd, in some areas) to the east. Almost exactly in the middle is Sunnyslope Mountain, which has a 150-foot letter S painted on it and is on the edge of North Mountain Park, a popular hiking area.

The word niche can be used to describe Sunnyslope, and in its own unique way, the town that was annexed into Phoenix proper in 1959 really does have a little bit of everything. It has nice areas, for sure, and some that are pretty rough. For years, it was known as a place where you could easily run afoul of meth-head bikers if you weren’t careful, but it also has some of the most interesting architecture in town. A drive up and down Cave Creek Road on a Friday or Saturday night from Dunlap to Cactus is sure to yield a few interesting things to look at, because life is never dull in the “Slope,” that’s for sure.

We took the time to get to know a few of Sunnyslope’s more interesting and creative residents to find out why they choose to call this place home:


 Michelle and Thomas

Thomas Lopez and Michelle “Mitch” Phillips have lived on the eastern edge of Sunnyslope since 2008. Phillips is a stylist to the stars, literally, and is becoming one of the most influential figures in the Phoenix fashion scene. She also owns Rare Scarf Vintage (, which is located on Cave Creek Road in Sunnyslope.

Lopez has based his company, Aquavida Pools, in Sunnyslope since 2005 and has also been running Slope Records (named for his current hometown) since 2015. Slope Records is one of the fastest-growing independent record labels in the country, and Lopez is definitely making some beautiful noise in the desert with his growing stable of artists and bands.

 What brought you to the area?

Lopez: A rainy-day drive.

What are some of your favorite things about Sunnyslope?

Lopez: The views are great.

Phillips: Quiet neighborhood, friends.

Tell us a little about your home.

Phillips: Our home was a 1970s flat-roof southwestern adobe when we purchased it. In the years we’ve had it, we’ve made it into a modern ranch home and remodeled the entire inside and out. It was on the Modern Phoenix Home tour in 2011.

Favorite story about Sunnyslope?

Phillips: Thomas’s office was one of the first original buildings built with a bomb shelter in Sunnyslope.

Lopez: The former owner, Charles Abels, had a gas station with a beer-drinking burro named Jimmy. People could pay a nickel and have him drink an A-1 beer [A-1 was an old Phoenix brewery], but he did have a limit of three beers a day.

What does Sunnyslope need?

Lopez: More restaurants. We need to eat over here.

Where do you like to hang out in Sunnyslope?

Phillips: Ziggy’s and the dive bars. My friends Dana, Indigo and I have a drink named after us called the Slippery Slope.

Anything you’d like to add?

Lopez: We nested here with all the creatives. I guess birds of a feather flock together.

Phillips: Sunnyslope is it! The next wave of culture!


Christopher and Susan

Like Lopez and Phillips, Susan Olson and Christopher Pomerenke make their home on the eastern edge of Sunnyslope, with a gorgeous view of the Valley below. Olson and Pomerenke are both artists; Olson works primarily with paint, and Pomerenke is a musician and film director who has a studio in their home. Olson, who is a raw vegan chef and chocolatier on the side, currently has work on exhibit at Legend City Studios (in downtown Phoenix) and is slated to show at the Alwun House this month.

So, Susan, tell us your story.

Olson: Christopher and I have been together 11 years and have lived in Sunnyslope for seven years. We love it here. We moved back to Phoenix after living in Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, and I wanted to live somewhere with a similar vibe. Living in the hills with nature and bohemian neighbors but also being only a few minutes from everything downtown – Sunnyslope is the place. One of my favorite things is the surrounding mountains. I am a trail runner and there are tons of beautiful trails right here!

Was it the same for you, Christopher?

Pomerenke: I grew up on the other side of the mountain range that separates Sunnyslope and North Phoenix. We used to ride skateboards and bikes over the hill to Sunnyslope to buy drugs when we were kids. It was dangerous and exciting. My best friend’s dad was the president of the Dirty Dozen [a notorious motorcycle gang that ran Sunnyslope in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s], so we saw a lot of mischief up close. I have a lot of fond memories tooling around the Sunnyslope Mountains as a teenager looking for trouble.

Tell us about your home.

Olson: Our home is built on a desert wash that comes down the mountain and runs right beneath the middle of our house. It is amazing when it rains – we get a river running right under us. We have large picture windows in the front and back, so we can watch it trickle, or gush, down depending on the amount of rain. The energy in the home is pretty amazing when we have rain on the roof and a little river flowing below.

Pomerenke: The home was specifically built to accommodate the arroyo. Our plan is to replace the wood floor in the living room with structural glass, so we can watch the rainfall run down under us. We also have a strange pool built up almost level with our house in the backyard. Due to the grade of the mountain, you can sit in the pool and see the city lights from over our rooftop. It’s very weird and kinda ’70s drug dealer-ish. We converted the three-car garage into a two-car garage and gym. Susan has her own art studio, and I have a home recording studio and writer’s room. We would never have been able to have this much house if it wasn’t for Sunnyslope and the great recession.

What does Sunnyslope need?

Olson: I would like to see all the many artists and architects that live here get together and help beautify the little troubled areas.

Pomerenke: I think the light rail will be coming right through Slope in 20 years, and that will change everything. I’m seeing more and more hipster-ish things happening, and that’s great, especially on North Central where Timo’s and Ladera are. Seventh Street from Camelback to Glendale is in a seriously exciting renaissance right now, and I can only hope that the growth will extend to Sunnyslope. I also wish Cave Creek Road would lose all the car lots and mechanics and become the next Roosevelt Row.

What are some of your favorite things about Sunnyslope?

Pomerenke: Sunnyslope is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. It’s got cowboys and bikers and a lot of stuff in between. In our neighborhood you have everything from shacks to mansions tucked into secret canyons. We are totally centrally located, yet we’re surrounded by wildlife. We have hawks, javelina, foxes, owls, bobcats. It reminds me of the Hollywood hills in that way.

Favorite story about Sunnyslope?

Pomerenke: My neighbor told me that the previous owner of our home was a local strip club owner and concert promoter who frequently threw ragers in our home. One night there was a huge tour bus parked in front and the homeowner invited our neighbor over. When he walked in, the house was full of half-naked partiers and a young up-and-coming rapper named Puff Daddy. Yep, the richest man in rap partied in our little Sunnyslope jacuzzi and slept it off in one of our rooms. I’ve commissioned Susan to make a statue of Puffy to put on the property somewhere.

My other favorite Slope story is the fact that the largest UFO sighting in world history [March 13, 1997] happened directly over our house. Hundreds of Slopers and Governor Fife Symington watched the Phoenix Lights’ delta-shaped craft slowly float over our neighborhood.



Indigo Hunter is the owner of Retro Ranch, the vintage store at 7th Ave. and Indian School Road, and has lived in Sunnyslope for the last 18 years. She also owns Retro Ranch, the Airbnb, which is also located in Sunnyslope. Hunter purchased her mother’s home when her mom decided to move and has never looked back.

Why Sunnyslope?

Hunter: I love living in the Slope because it still feels like the desert town I grew up in: quiet, dusty and filled with a nice mix of characters.

Tell us about your home.

Hunter: The best part about my house is outside of it (laughs). We are lucky to live close to the mountain preserve, so the bunnies, quail and roadrunners are all around. As long as they don’t make themselves too comfortable in my garden, we are all good. For years there was a burro that would stroll down our street from the preserve every day and snack on anything green in the front yards. My older neighbors told me that there had been a miner who lived next to his claim in the mountains. When he passed away, the friendly burro did just fine finding meals around the neighborhood.

Are there any misconceptions about Sunnyslope?

All the misconceptions are true! I wouldn’t change a thing.



Dana Armstrong is the relative newcomer to the group, having lived in Sunnyslope since 2011, but she spent three years prior in the Dreamy Draw area, which is right next door. Armstrong is a freelance designer and the creator of Valley Fever Country Music Night, which is a super cool celebration of all things classic country that she has been doing at local clubs for the last 13 years.

What brought you to the area?

Armstrong: I decided that if I were going to stay in Arizona, I should live close to the desert. That is what I love the most about this state, and it’s what sets it apart from other places. It’s good for peace of mind and inspiration. Sunnyslope is one of the only areas in Phoenix that you can be close to the city and walk out the door and into the desert preserve.

What are some of your favorite things about Sunnyslope?

Armstrong: Sunnyslope’s slogan is “Where the Mountains Meet the Valley,” and that captures it for me. It has drawn and continues to draw people who can appreciate the history and natural landscape of the area. It feels a little more wild out here – there’s a unique sense of freedom, creativity and an innovative spirit to the community. Admittedly, I felt a little isolated when I first moved here, but have since made great friends in the neighborhood, and some old friends are buying in the area. As things continue to evolve, it seems to be a great fit, and it’s centrally located.

Tell me a little about your home.

Armstrong: I live in a 1979 Spanish-style flat-roof house on a corner lot in Ocotillo Hills in East Sunnyslope. I tend to become immersed in certain eras, so looking around, I think the year the house was built is reflected in the decor – mostly things I’ve collected from thrift stores over many years. One of the best compliments I’ve had is, “This seems like it could be Waylon Jennings’ house.” I’ll take it.

What misconception about Sunnyslope makes you want to scream?
Armstrong: There are still some negative connotations about the area – some warranted, some not. It is definitely an eclectic community. Maybe people aren’t aware of the unique architecture here and the proximity to Uptown and Central Phoenix.

Favorite Sunnyslope spots?

Armstrong: I love hiking and running in the preserve and watching the sunsets. We’ve been hanging out at each other’s houses and also Ziggy’s on Mountain View and 7th Street a lot lately. Great food, live music and dancing. Also, Ladera has a great patio.

What does Sunnyslope need?

Armstrong: Businesses are moving northward, and that’s exciting. As is the case with all of Phoenix, we should always keep preservation in mind.