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Historic Hayden Mill Returns to the Public

October 12, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

This last week was a big one for Vanishing Phoenix, with the story of the Madison and St. James hotels (which we broke early in September) getting press across the city.

After its mention at the Camelback East Village Planning Committee by the developers of the David and Gladys Wright House, the story of the Phoenix Suns and the historic Madison and St. James hotels hit the local press.

The current face of the Madison & St. James hotels (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

First, The Arizona Republic put the story on the front page of its Valley & State section. Then, the Phoenix Business Journal covered it, even citing my original article in its research. ABC15 and KTAR also did reports, and local 3TV spoke of the future potential of the buildings, interviewing me for their article and video piece.

During that same time, developer and property owner Michael Levine released a series of architectural renderings on Facebook, detailing how the buildings could be reused while still accommodating the Suns’ needs for the land.

Although the Suns are still free to pursue any option with the property, the story seems to slowly be attracting a groundswell of support from the community. Talks are even in the works to start a Change.org petition to save the buildings, matching the current MyPlanPhx idea to keep the historic hotels intact.

The Madison and St. James hotels are run-down and long-abandoned. But clearly, there is more beneath the surface with these historic structures.

Just last week, the city of Tempe officially welcomed the historic Hayden Flour Mill back into the public eye.

First constructed in 1874, the Mill fell victim to two fires, with its current structure being completed in 1918 and finally made fireproof.

According to the official Tempe website listing for the building, it is currently the “oldest cast-in-place, reinforced concrete building in Tempe”. And upon its closing in 1998, the Mill was the longest continuously-in-use industrial building in the Valley.

The building had sat vacant and abandoned to the elements since its closing, even falling victim to yet another fire.

Prior to the real estate crash of the mid-2000s, the Mill was the subject of a failed adaptive-reuse project, which would have developed the area into a highrise complex, rivaling that of West Sixth just off Mill Avenue.

With prospects for redevelopment slim in the still-sluggish local economy, the City of Tempe chose to partner with the Rio Salado Foundation and Downtown Tempe Community, Inc. to give the iconic Mill a slight facelift and a temporary use.

After a few months of construction, the Mill has reopened as an events venue and public space, complete with new public art and interpretive displays and lighting to highlight the structure’s past.

Vanishing Phoenix was present at the reopening celebration, and was lucky enough to get a peek inside the first floor of the building. Below are the photos from the tour of the premesis.

The exterior of the Hayden Flour Mill during its grand opening. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

Tom Jones of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission led tours of the first floor of the building throughout the evening. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

Though only the first floor was open to the public, visitors could peer into rooms at the periphery of the Mill, used for production. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

The main portion of the ground floor was used for office space during the Mill's years of operation. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)


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