To the Mayor, City Council, ASU Officials, City Staff, ASU Staff, and the Citizens of Phoenix:
It seems for every success that Phoenix can point to as ASU’s benefit to the downtown’s vitality, there also seem glaring and obvious deficiencies. The decision to purchase and raze an existing historic structure, the Sahara/Ramada Hotel, and replace it with an overflow parking lot for a city-owned hotel, seems an obvious contradiction.
- Though ASU and Phoenix both promote sustainable development, there is nothing in this direction that is sustainable, Earth-friendly, or revitalizing.
- Phoenix already has land-banked large swaths of empty lots.
- The campus was originally proposed to decentralize through downtown, rather than an aggregate of clustered buildings, in an effort to promote activity throughout the downtown.
- For ASU to promote sustainability and the City to promote adaptive reuse, it seems disingenuous to then take down a historic and easily repaired structure and replace it with an asphalt lot.
- Likewise, for Phoenix to promote light rail to discourage more cars on the road and the need for lots to park them, while investing in yet another parking lot to serve a city-owned and developed hotel, seems equally two-faced.
There are great opportunities to save, restore, and adapt the original Sahara/Ramada Hotel, with uses that fit well with the city-promoted need for hotel rooms and ASU’s existing colleges. Within a one-hour Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee meeting on Saturday, March 13, ideas were discussed that would create revenue streams. A true boutique hotel along the lines of The Clarendon, various care and health facilities (assisted living, long-term care, hospice, or transitional living), and even working art studios to bring fine art students to downtown are all more creative directions and tax revenue than another off-the-tax-rolls empty lot.
The Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee urges the City of Phoenix and ASU Downtown to abandon its harmful decision to demolish the Sahara/Ramada, and instead discuss more creative and forward-thinking goals for this property. We look forward to a dialogue and request a planning session. We also trust no decision will be made without further input.
Steering Committee Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition