Blog Archives

Mid-Century Marvels at Phoenix Public Library on Feb 24

[Source: City of Phoenix]

Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., will host local architect Don Ryden and Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix historic preservation officer, in a talk about the city’s new book “Midcentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix: 1945-1975” at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24.

Produced by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Ryden Architects, Inc., the book features more than 400 images, some rare, of buildings lost and those preserved for generations to come. It highlights the work of architects Ralph Haver, Al Beadle, Bennie Gonzales and others, and the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the architecture of Phoenix.

“Mid-Century Marvels” was published with funding provided by a Federal Historic Fund Certified Local Government Grant, The Arizona Heritage Fund and the Phoenix Historic Preservation Bond Fund.

Books will be available for purchase at the program or at phoenix.gov/historic.

Phoenix Public Library is a system of 15 branch libraries and the Burton Barr Central Library. For more information, call 602-262-4636 or visitphoenixpubliclibrary.org. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/phxlibrary.

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Another Chance to Learn About Downtown Phoenix’s Midcentury Marvels

midmarvbook Another Chance to Learn about Phoenixs MidCentury Marvels

From the City of Phoenix:

Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix historic preservation officer, and Don Ryden, architect/author, will discuss the coffee table-style book, featuring 251 pages showcasing the architects and architecture of the post-World War II building boom in Phoenix.

Architects Ralph Haver, Al Beadle, Bennie Gonzales and many others are featured with more than 400 colorful images, some rare, of buildings lost and those preserved for generations to come. Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on the architecture of Phoenix also is highlighted.

Mid-century Marvels was produced by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Ryden Architects, Inc. with funding provided by a Federal Historic Fund Certified Local Government Grant, The Arizona Heritage Fund and the Phoenix Historic Preservation Bond Fund.

Books can be purchased for $20 at the event, phoenix.gov/historic or the Historic Preservation Office, 200 W. Washington St., 17th floor. For more information, call 602-261-8699.

 

Historic buildings in downtown Phoenix struggle to survive

[By Evie Carpenter, Downtown Devil]

Phoenix may be young in comparison to the old, Gothic mainstays of the East coast, but as venerable buildings like the Ramada Inn continue to be razed, many community activists are trying to reignite an appreciation for historic preservation in the nation’s fifth largest city.

The Hotel San Carlos has been in continuous operation since 1928. A building must be over 50 years old and meet other requirements to be added to the Phoenix Property Register and designated as historic. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

“Phoenix in general needs to be more aware of its history,” said Phoenix policy and research analyst, urbanist and blogger Yuri Artibise:

I think the buildings provide a sense of place, they provide what’s kind of called a city’s DNA.

Robert Melikian, a historic preservationist and author of “Vanishing Phoenix,” said that preserving a city’s old buildings helps add character to an otherwise bland concrete jungle.

Historical buildings “give you a sense of personal identity to the local area. Otherwise, there’d be just the same high-rise buildings in every downtown,” said Melikian, who also co-owns downtown’s Hotel San Carlos, which has been in continuous operation since 1928. “They show that we are all connected — they’re a link to the past. They’re time machines that show us what was important in the old days.”

In order to raise awareness of the threats to historical buildings in the Phoenix area, a group of neighborhood leaders formed the Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition, said G.G. George, president of Encanto Citizens Association and vice president of the coalition. Last year the coalition compiled a list of threatened historic buildings called the 2010 Most enDangered Dozen.

Donna Reiner, who acted as the chair of the enDangered Dozen Committee, said the coalition made the list to highlight buildings specifically in Phoenix, rather than building in Arizona or nationwide.

The buildings we chose “didn’t have to be on the historic, city or national register,” Reiner said. “It was more (an issue) of who had built it, who had lived in it, what was its connection to history.”

Reiner added that the physical condition of the building, its owners and whether the building was in foreclosure were also considered when choosing the Dozen. Neglect is one of the main reasons that a building becomes endangered, she said.

Artibise and Reiner said they agree that some may not view the buildings they chose as historic because they are not as old as historic buildings in cities on the East coast. Compared to those cities, however, Phoenix is much younger –- not yet 150 years old.

“You hear a lot people say, ‘Well, they’re not that old. It’s not like we’re tearing down 200-year-old buildings. They’re only like 50 years old,’” Artibise said:

But, you know, you need something to be 50 years old before it gets to be 100 years old.

A building must be over 50 years old and meet other “standards for integrity and historical significance” to be added to the Phoenix Property Register and designated as historic, according to the city’s Historic Preservation Office website. However, residential owners can designate their own neighborhoods as historic within the guidelines set by the city of Phoenix, Melikian said.

George said she has been in her historic home, located in the Encanto neighborhood, for 41 years. The neighborhood has been on the national register of historic neighborhoods since 1984.

Phoenix has 34 other residential historic districts, according to the city’s Historic Preservation Office’s website.

Although Melikian said that Phoenix has had success in preserving historic residential areas, he is unhappy with the efforts made to preserve historical commercial buildings.

“Commercial (historical preservation) is almost non-existent in (Phoenix’s) historic preservation,” he said:

It’s pretty much up to the community-minded owner whether they want to save the building or not. There’s nothing the city can do to stop them from tearing down a building.

Melikian suggested the city allow the public to designate a commercial building as historic rather than letting the owner of the building make the decision.

“We give too much authority to the owner, and we have a very weak preservation ordinance,” he said.

Nonetheless, Reiner said she thinks the city and groups like the Phoenix Historic Neighborhood Coalition “do a really good job of promoting historic preservation and explaining why it’s good.”

Both Reiner and Melikian mentioned that they believe Proposition 207, which passed in 2006, hinders historic preservation as well. The proposition, also known as the Private Property Rights Protection Act, states that the government may take private property as long as they offer “just compensation” to the owner of the property. Compensation may occur if an owner sees his or her property value decrease due to “the enactment of a land use law,” which includes historic overlay, according to CountySupervisors.org.

“People would misguidedly say that a historic overlay means I can’t do anything to my property, which is not true,” Reiner said:

If you are in a historic district and you do have historic overlay, your property values will remain more constant than if you don’t.

However, Melikian said that Proposition 207 scares the government away from designating properties as historic in order to avoid lawsuits.

“The government is paralyzed by Prop. 207 … but the government can’t designate anything historic because then they are going to be sued by people saying that they diminished the value of their property,” he said.

Despite the potential impediments of Prop. 207, if a building is designated as historic the owner will often renovate it to make it more practical. The city’s award-winning Adaptive Reuse Program was created in 2008 to support property owners who wish to modify their building for a new purpose.

“Some of these buildings, especially the older homes, were built for a specific purpose in a specific time, and times have changed so I think you can adapt,” Artibise said. “I think you need to work with what you have and use that as a starting point as opposed to destroying everything and starting from scratch.”

Melikian listed a variety of different uses for an adapted historic building and said that the reused building could become a novelty.

“History sells — it’s great,” Melikian said:

People love to go to historical buildings, restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, coffee shops. That’s the greatest thing — a historic building with a new use.

For many buildings in the downtown Phoenix area, though, the adaptive reuse program came too late.

Melikian said he wished the Fleming building on First Avenue and Washington Street was still standing, observing that it had “lasted almost 100 years but could have lasted another 100” and that it held the first elevator in the territory.

“It could have been a museum for youngsters to see what it was like in the 1890s and that was torn down for a high rise,” he said. “That building could have been used as a gateway, like a grand entrance to the high rise … now it’s just a nice high rise, same as in a dozen other cities.”

In the 1984 Historic Phoenix Commercial Properties Survey approximately 143 historic commercial buildings had lasted from about the 1920s to 1984, but 55 buildings have been knocked down in the last 25 years, Melikian said.

“It’s a terrible shame that no one cares about,” he said.

George described historic preservation as holding on to Phoenix’s past, which becomes vital when looking toward the city’s future.

“If we lose our history, we lose anything, any way to make decisions in the future,” she said:

We need to know what happened in the past to help us make comprehensive and intelligent decisions in the future.

Contact the reporter at ecarpenter@asu.edu

Downtown Voices Coalition Minutes for August 14, 2010

Meeting held at Roosevelt Commons, 825 N. 6th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003

Attending: Kim Kasper, Tim Sprague, Suad Mahmuljin, Louisa Stark, Matt Tomb, Elise Griffin, John Saccoman, Beatrice Moore, Susan Copeland, Steve Weiss, Carol Poore, Erick Baer, Karla Grijalva, Margaret Dietrich, Jim McPherson, Reid Butler, Kate Benjamin, Sean Sweat, Bill Blauc, Tim Eigo

9:35 AM

Introductions and approval of minutes: Motion to approve Reid Butler, Second Tim Eigo, voice vote carried unanimously.

 

GRAND AVENUE FESTIVAL– Kate Benjamin, chair Grand Avenue Festival

September 25, 2010-All day and evening

Events include-5 stops on Historic Tour-15th Avenue/Grand area

$10.00 ticket for tour-fundraiser for Grand Avenue Merchants Association

Open Artist Studios-Trashy Sculpture Show

Evening Fashion Show Braggs Pie Factory

Oasis Motel renovation will be part of tour-hoping to start renovation in October 2010

Request for $250.00 donation by Downtown Voices Coalition to Grand Avenue Merchant Association for Grand Avenue Festival.

  • Motion to donate John Saccoman, 2nd Suad Mahmuljin, voice vote approved unanimously
  • Reid Butler will match DVC donation.

VISONING CONFERENCE DOCUMENT UPDATE– Carol Poore

Initial stages developing nicely and she’ll be handing over preliminary soon

Carol discussed her dissertation on how Phoenix Community Alliance and Downtown Phoenix Partnership interact with other organizations in downtown-DVC is a player!

3 profound issues:

  1. Leadership changes
  2. With big projects done, street level activity and development needed
  3. Affordable and attainable housing

Erick Baer-Public funding initiatives=empty lots, Private no public funds=Grand Avenue

SAHARA/RAMADA UPDATE– Steve Weiss

City asked for continuance of rezoning for parking lot. “Done Deal” says City Mgr.  David Cavazos.

10:15 am

OLD BUSINESS

Update Private Non-Profit Intervention Fund-Reid Butler

  • Example was given for creating new organization with capital seed money ($20 mil)
  • Phoenix-based organization intervenes and purchases older threatened buildings
  • Save money with more than advocacy, save with money!
  • Funding sources-Angles, non-profits, corporations
  • Use tax credits to finance end goal-Organization stabilizes structure, sells to preservation-     friendly developers-Or –Bank—gift building to non-profit.
  • Version of how not to do it-Grace Court

NEW BUSINESS

Motion to Publish DVC Minutes General Monthly Meetings to DVC website

  • Motion made by Suad Mahmuljin, Seconded by Tim Eigo, voice vote carries motion unanimously.

11:30 AM

MOTION TO ADJOURN

John Saccoman, seconded by Tim Eigo, voice vote carries motion unanimously.

 

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DVC Statement on Rezoning of Sahara Hotel/Ramada Inn into another parking lot.

Note: Background information the Sahara Hotel Ramada Inn is here http://bit.ly/9wqIHC

Demolition began on the Sahara Motor Hotel, May 12, 2010. It wil be completed this week.

On August 12, a zoning hearing to change the usage status of the Sahara Hotel/Ramada Inn, where Downtown Voices Coalition and other concerned citizens were hoping to voice their discontent with making an existing vintage motor hotel into a “temporary” parking lot, was continued by the City.

We firmly believe that our statements led to this continuance, and by the time the rescheduled hearing on August 26th occurs, the demolition will be complete and our statements will be moot.

Nevertheless, the Downtown Voices Coalition wants to make their statement available to the public, to help spread the word about this ridiculous decision being taken by the City of Phoenix.

Steve Weiss, subcommittee chair Sahara Hotel/Ramada Inn Preservation

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I’m speaking today for the Downtown Voices Coalition, an organization that includes small business owners, artists, historic preservationists, housing advocates, developers and other Phoenix stakeholders, all striving for a better downtown for residents and visitors.
One of our developer members finds it difficult to convince people to bring new projects to the downtown, especially when driving them through large swaths of empty, unused land and rows of asphalt parking lots. Investors are suspicious of a city’s progressiveness when it spends more time and money on land banking and demolition than creative and adaptive development.
The Sheraton is a city-owned and constructed hotel. If it wasn’t built with enough parking to accommodate its users, this should be fixed creatively, not destructively. A future ASU project on the site could be worked into the existing vintage structure, utilizing skills hopefully taught at its own architecture school. There is also still private-sector potential for adaptive re-use, even with the initial demolition, to make something more of the property than mere asphalt and land-fill.
Therefore, Downtown Voices Coalition asks you to deny the re-zoning and help us to hit the reset button on this demolition. If the current city administration doesn’t have the foresight to consider the alternatives, it should at least be saved for ideas from a future and more visionary group of planners.

+++++++++++++++

More information on this property

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Need Help Rehabing your Historic Home?

The city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office is now accepting applications for its Exterior Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

The grant application deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010.

Photo Credit: Nick Basteien on Flickr

The program makes monies available to private property owners to complete exterior rehabilitation, repair or restoration work on historic homes continuing to serve a residential purpose. Owners of historic homes that are either in city-designated historic districts or are individually listed on the city’s historic property register are eligible to apply. The program funds critical structural stabilization, repair and rehabilitation of historic exterior features such as roofs, exterior walls, porches and windows.

The program reimburses owners on a 50/50 matching basis for pre-approved work with grant funding between $2,000 and $10,000 per project. In exchange for receiving financial assistance, the property owner agrees to sell the city a conservation easement to protect the historic character of the property’s exteriors..

The goal of the Exterior Rehabilitation Program is to promote the preservation of historic buildings through proper rehabilitation. A successful rehabilitation is one that retains, preserves and protects as much of the original historic fabric as possible. It also preserves the original character-defining architectural elements of a particular building.

For more information or to download an application, click here or call 602-261-8699. Application packages are available at the city’s Historic Preservation Office, 200 W. Washington St., 17th floor.

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Vanishing Phoenix: lost, but not forgotten

[Source: AZCentral.com]

Earlier this year, one of Phoenix’s downtown hotel owners finished writing a book about the architecture the city has lost over the years.

Robert Melikian’s “Vanishing Phoenix” is an homage to an array of buildings in the city that have disappeared over the past century, from hotels such as the Bank Exchange Hotel near Washington and First streets to the old mansions that once lined East Monroe Street.

Melikian, 53, is known in the community as a supporter of historic preservation, which is evident by efforts to preserve his family’s hotel, the Hotel San Carlos.

Melikian answered questions recently about the book and his views on historic preservation:

Question: Why did you write this book?

Answer: I wanted to protect what buildings we have left.

Q: Why do you think some residents feel Phoenix lacks historic identity in its architecture?

A: It’s strongly made up of individuals coming in from other parts of the country. They mostly don’t care about local history because they’re from somewhere else.

Q: Since your book was released earlier this year, what has happened?

A: I’ve been so happy that people have just been coming in to look at the old slides (photographs of old buildings).

Q: Was there a certain building that inspired you to write?

A: The Fox West Coast Theatre on First and Washington (streets) built by S. Charles Lee (in 1930). He built an inferior one in Los Angeles that’s considered by people there a marvelous theater. We had a better one. In 1975, the city bought it. The chandeliers bought for $8,000 in the 1930s sold for $250. They (city officials) wanted to replace the theater with a bus station.

Q: Some historic buildings continue to be torn down. Some members of the community believe the Ramada Inn at Second and Fillmore streets should be protected although the city plans to raze it and build there so Arizona State University can use it to house one of its academic programs. What do you think?

A: In 1956, Marilyn Monroe opened that building. But I don’t advocate saving every historic building. If the use of that building is going to be that useful to society, then so be it.

Q: What message do you want people to take from this book?

A: History sells. People want history. Don’t look at the short-term liability (of preservation). Look at the long-term benefits.

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Hanny’s infuses downtown Phoenix with classic fare in a historic building

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times] — Finally, something to cheer about.  In a city where preservationists have new reasons to gripe all the time — sharp mid-century homes getting razed to make way for McMansions, architecturally significant buildings being bulldozed so somebody can slap up another generic bank or strip mall — there’s good news about at least one historic building.  Better yet, it’s right downtown.  And the icing on the cake?  It’s home to a new restaurant called Hanny’s.

Like its stark International Style building façade, Hanny’s all-day menu is streamlined, featuring just a handful of starters, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.  It’s well-crafted, affordable fare that’s perfect for a light lunch, an informal dinner, a happy hour snack, or a late-night nosh — not destination dining by any stretch, but considering the beautifully restored surroundings and the sheer character that this place brings to the area, it’s still a Phoenix destination.

Hanny’s has quite a story.  It’s named after businessman Vic Hanny’s “Distinguished Store for Men and Women” originally located there, a place where generations of Phoenicians shopped for designer-label clothing.  After the store was shuttered in the ’80s, the circa 1947 Hanny’s building sat vacant, occasionally getting torched by the fire department to train firefighters.  It was added to the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2005, the same year the city negotiated with restaurateur Karl Kopp (owner of Scottsdale’s AZ88, as well as spots in Milwaukee and Manhattan) to exchange it for a building he owned on Central Avenue. City officials wanted to acquire Kopp’s property as part of the planned ASU Downtown Campus; Kopp was willing to bring the historic Hanny’s building back to its vintage grandeur.

Three years and $5 million later, Hanny’s is a well-polished modernist gem.  Artist Janis Leonard — known for her cheeky, rotating installations at AZ88 — designed the spare, elegant interior, where charcoal-colored banquettes line the perimeter, chocolate leather chairs hug smooth granite-topped tables, and soft uplighting emphasizes dramatically high ceilings (high enough to have a curvy mezzanine overlooking the dining room).  Everything gleams, from terrazzo floors to the bar in the middle of the space, where a bright red meat slicer sits like a candy apple behind glass.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Possible renovations, demolition in Phoenix Warehouse District

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The fate of three properties in Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District was discussed among city Historic Preservation staff and others in early October; two possible renovations and one possible demolition.  Details below:

Historic Preservation staff met with prospective buyers of a vacant warehouse at 515 E. Grant Street on October 3.  Development Services, Downtown Development, and Office of Customer Advocacy staff also attended.  The buyers are the Stanley Sausage Company, which owns a facility at 2201 E. McDowell Road, but is looking to upgrade to a larger building.  The warehouse at 515 E. Grant Street is not listed on either the Phoenix Historic Property Register or the National Register of Historic Places, but is considered eligible for listing; it was built in 1946 for the General Sales Company, was designed by the architectural firm of Lescher & Mahoney and constructed by Del Webb.  Representatives of the Stanley Sausage Company indicated that, if they were to purchase the property, they would likely pursue historic designation for the building and request a grant from the City’s Historic Preservation Bond.  They are also looking at sites outside of Phoenix to relocate their facilities.

The Historic Preservation Office received a Warehouse and Threatened Building Program grant application from Dudley Ventures (James Howard Jr.) to rehabilitate the one-story 1930 Arizona Hardware Supply Company Warehouse at 22 E. Jackson Street.  Because the warehouse’s front façade had previously been stuccoed and the front raised parapet removed, the Historic Preservation Office originally did not consider the building eligible for listing on the Phoenix Historic Property Register, a pre-requisite to apply for a city historic preservation grant.  The owner has since removed the stucco from the brick, has provided plans indicating how the salvaged brick from the front parapet can be reinstalled, and has provided architectural drawings demonstrating how the building can be returned to its historic condition and appearance.  The vacant 6,600 square foot warehouse will be adaptively used for office use by the owner.  The $121,000 grant request will be considered by the Historic Preservation Commission at their October 20, 2008, meeting.  The building would need to be listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register prior to expending any bond dollars for the grant, if the grant application is approved by City Council.

Michael Levine, owner of Phoenix Seed and Feed Warehouse, 411 S. 2nd Street, filled a demolition application for the historic warehouse due to difficulties with his lender.  Because the property is historically designated, the building cannot be demolished until the one-year stay of demolition expires, and the demolition is subject to an approved replacement plan on the site.

Restoration begins on another historic building at Phoenix’s Steele Indian School Park

Phoenix Indian School Dining Hall by phxpma.[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — Work has started on the exterior rehabilitation of the 1902 Dining Hall at Steele Indian School Park.  This project is funded with 2006 Historic Preservation Bond Funds and will take approximately one year to complete (September 2009).   The scope of work will be to stabilize and fully repair the brick exteriors, perform structural stabilization work, rehabilitate wood and steel windows, complete major roof improvements, and repaint.  Additional funds will be needed to complete interior restoration and tenant improvements.