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Posts Tagged ‘Evans Churchill’

  1. Phoenix Preservationists Move Forward Amid National Attention

    October 26, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    A week removed from the demolition of the Madison Hotel, and the preservation community is still reeling.

    The remains of the Madison Hotel sit glaring into the still-growing core of downtown. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Since then, the eye of the national preservation community has once again zeroed in on Phoenix.

    On Sunday, The New York Times ran a lengthy feature piece in its New York print edition on the precarious-at-best position of historic buildings in Phoenix, making distinct note of both the David & Gladys Wright House and the Madison Hotel.

    Then a few days later, veteran arts and architecture writer Robrt L. Pela contributed a post to the Phoenix New Times, articulating exactly why, in particular, the Wright House is “architecture worth saving”.

    And just yesterday, several sources reported the re-listing of the Wright House for sale, though the property’s owners have been quoted as saying that if the house is awarded Landmark status by the City Council, they will simply sit on the property for the requisite three years, and demolish it anyway.

    Ironically, this past weekend also marked the arrival of the informal season of historic building tours, beginning with the Grand Avenue Historic Commercial Building and Adaptive Reuse tours.

    Looking down Grand at Bragg’s Pies and the Lodge, two historic spots renovated and repurposed in the name of art. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Back for their fourth year, the tours showcased rarely-seen buildings on lower Grand Avenue, guided by a variety of Phoenix historians, including Marshall Shore, Douglas Towne, John Jacquemart and Will Novak. This year, the featured buildings were the 1935 Phoenix Laundry and Dry Cleaning (still active as Milum Textiles), the 1917 OS Stapley Hardware Store buildings and the 1940s masonry building at 1205 W. Grand, now a working law office.

    The tours themselves though, are but a few of many adaptively reused properties along Grand. Galleries, studios, shops and even residences occupy such structures as the 1920s Shaugnessey buildings, 1930s Piggly Wiggly, 1930s Bragg’s Pies and 1930 Foursquare Gospel Church, among others.

    Compared to nearly any other street in Phoenix, Grand cares about its historic properties.

    Thanks to the stewardship of artist and property owner Beatrice Moore since the 1990s, Grand has established its legacy of preservation, leading others (including architecture and preservation firm Motley Design Group) to locate on the Avenue and bank on its continued growth.

    Bordering parts of Grand is the F.Q. Story Neighborhood, which will host its own 28th annual historic home tour and street fair.

    Ten homes of varying design and age will be open to the public over two days, showcasing architectural styles including Spanish Colonial Revival, English Tudor, Craftsman bungalows and Transitional Ranch, according to the tour’s website.

    Over the years, Story has positioned itself as one of the best-preserved and best-organized neighborhoods in Central Phoenix, fighting tooth and nail for the cause of preservation in the face of big-money development, and the encroachment of the I-10 freeway in the 1980s.

    Students in the ASU Community Encounters class begin their tour of downtown at the Louis Emerson House. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Also on November 2nd, just a few blocks away, the Evans-Churchill Community Association is holding its second Interesting Interiors Tour, offering public looks inside of the neighborhood’s most architecturally-significant buildings.

    Though Evans-Churchill has faced much harder luck than its neighbors over the years in regard to preservation, it still plays host to a variety of significant structures.

    Among the dozen-plus properties on display are the pre-statehood Louis Emerson House, the Brockway House, Combine Studios, monOrchid and 300M.

    Even as Phoenix at large struggles to find its footing to preserve its most significant structures, individual neighborhoods continue to fight the good fight, proudly displaying their victories to the public at every opportunity.

    For those who think this city has no history, one only needs to venture to one of the tours listed above to see the pride in the past that remains among Phoenix’s more passionate souls and in its more unique neighborhoods.


  2. Circle K and the True “Feel” of a Neighborhood

    September 28, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    In the wake of today’s potentially historic, but as-yet-inconclusive zoning hearing on the proposed Circle K at Seventh and Roosevelt streets, I have been ruminating on the character of our downtown’s neighborhoods.

    At Vanishing Phoenix, I have been covering this story since April, right after the developers’ first meeting with the Garfield Organization. I have watched as the tone of the conversation has changed, and the reasons for dispute have shifted.

    Over that time, Circle K’s representatives have attended numerous meetings with city officials, community members and neighborhood associations, discussing the various groups’ concerns, and moving toward a workable solution.

    In response, Circle K made numerous design concessions, adding architectural flair, shade trees and wider sidewalks, and promising space for a mural in the alley to be completed by a local artist from the Garfield neighborhood.

    Through the many talks, local residents, business owners, artists and students have been confronted with the question of what sort of business is best for their neighborhood, and how to foster the desired culture.

    And with the continued redevelopment of downtown dating back to the 1970s, it is a question that will continue to be asked.

    A development along Palm Lane, just across from an historic former single-family home (Connor Descheemaker/DD)


    Riding my bicycle along Palm Lane between Seventh and Third streets on a recent night, I was slapped in the face with how commercial development can and will encroach upon the character of historic neighborhoods.

    While such development is not necessarily a bad thing, one can’t help but feel unsteady when going through the lush, palm-lined streets of the Alvarado neighborhood, and suddenly coming upon a massive parking lot, or a house whose front yard has been gutted to make way for an entrance and another parking area, replete with flood lights.

    From this unexpected office and commercial strip, one continues on Palm Lane to find an array of well-preserved 1940s and ‘50s-era apartment and office complexes, bringing a traveler right back to the historic norm of the rest of the surrounding area.

    Though the new commercial developments along this street are architecturally integrated into the neighborhood, when surrounded by the Coronado and Alvarado historic districts, the sites feel out of place.

    Just a few blocks northward though, the Ashland Place historic district sits almost entirely undisturbed.

    A single-family dwelling sits below the ambient light on Vernon Street in the Ashland Place district. (Connor Descheemaker/DD)

    Lined with similarly thick trees and entire streets of architecturally-unique homes, the district sits quietly just off Central Avenue, astride two major arterial roads at its East and West ends.

    Every single house along Vernon Street is original, mixing a fair array of styles to create one of Central Phoenix’s most intriguing neighborhoods.

    With no formal entryway, the glow of the streetlights beckon only the most curious and patient passersby to view the quaint, perfectly-preserved district.

    These two contrasting examples illustrate the ways that neighborhoods can be brought through to the present: Will they deal with infill and new development, or will they stick exclusively to the familiar feel of the past?

    As Evans-Churchill and Garfield scramble to determine their reactions to the potential arrival of Circle K, they too must think about how to maintain the distinct feel of their areas. And with each neighborhood containing so much vacant space, new development is at the very least a necessary evil.

    How each neighborhood will react remains to be seen, but each must certainly make a plan for their path forward, so as not to lose what makes each unique.

    Blogger’s Note: For a full report on the Circle K hearing, head here for all the gory details. To hear a community member’s perspective on the issue, take a look at Will Novak’s opinion piece here.


  3. Seventh and Roosevelt Streets Transformation Continues: Part 2 of 2

    August 31, 2012 by Connor Descheemaker

    So sorry for the delay. The school year has begun, Downtown Devil is back to publishing daily, and Vanishing Phoenix is back to its weekly schedule.

    This year, I have lots planned for the blog, including guest posts, more historic building spotlights, musings on the Valley’s history and a new monthly feature where you, the reader, determine the content.

    Today, I return with the long-awaited sequel to the never-ending drama of development on Seventh and Roosevelt Streets. First, a few updates on the proposed Circle K, relocating to the southeast corner of the intersection.

    This past week, the agenda for the upcoming City of Phoenix abandonment hearing was revealed, with a pending application from MD Partners, LLC, the developer behind the Circle K project. The shorthand for the application reads as such: “Approximately 3,534 s.f. of excess ROW along the south side of Roosevelt Street, east of 7th Street, adjacent to the parcels addressed 917 and 925 N. 7th Street.”

    What this means for surrounding residents, is relatively large indent where the sidewalk currently sits, making room for a recessed bus stop. Following my initial repost of the memo on Facebook, a reader shared a few photo illustrations to show the space that would be taken up.

    The red area indicates the location of the proposed abandonment zone, where the current bus stop will me moved. (Photo illustration courtesy of Vanishing Phoenix reader W Brent Armstrong)

    The abandonment process will be discussed this Wednesday in front of the Abandonment Hearing Officer, with the final decision to directly affect the footprint of the impending development.

    Watch in the next week or two for a full report from the Downtown Devil on the development’s progress.

    And now for the northeast corner, the location of the current Circle K, Tacos de Juarez, a laundromat and a barber shop.

    With the proposed move of Circle K, one developer, Vintage Partners, is already lining up to purchase the entire block and turn it into a new, modern commercial development.

    Vintage Partners has recently gained attention for its work in developing the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road, which Vanishing Phoenix covered back in April and May. After purchasing the midcentury plaza, the group changed the face of the entire corridor, welcoming six new fast-casual restaurants to the historic neighborhood, five of which were franchises.

    Though the plaza had long been rundown and was undoubtedly improved, there was a major outcry in the community for the inundation of chain and chain-like restaurants in an area long identified by its unique, local businesses.

    Similarly, residents of the Evans-Churchill and Garfield Neighborhoods expressed concerns about the takeover of a largely-ethnic and arts-based corridor with a gentrified, franchised plaza.

    At the moment, Vintage Partners is only making offers to the various building owners along Seventh Street and slowly working to build a cohesive vision for the area.

    As they continue this process the development firm is gauging interest in the community, and putting their feelers out among potential tenants for the plaza.

    With these two potential vision-altering projects being proposed, there will certainly be an outcry in the community, for better or for worse. So, readers, to you: what do you think about these developments? Could they be better integrated into the flow of the neighborhoods? Or are they already going to serve a vital enough purpose?