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September 28, 2015


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Let's see....

An old hotel not being restored to it's original splendor is a lack of vision and leadership.

An opinion by someone who has how much experience in developing or redeveloping hotels?

Could it be that it would just be a lousy investment? That the laws of supply and demand apply no matter how romantically a building is viewed?

That light rail just might not help it as a hotel?

That the merchants overseeing the gazillions of dollars chasing deals given the feds' continued keeping the risk free rate low still can't make the deal pencil?


The freakin' thing needs tons of subsidies just to make it as elderly housing:

"The refinancing package includes a Federal Housing Administration 221 D4 Substantial Rehabilitation loan, 9 percent Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Federal Historic Tax Credits. The loan restructuring involved multiple federal, state and local entities, including three U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development offices and the city of Phoenix."

Sound like the City did quite a bit...

"But it's astounding that the unique landmark Westward Ho sits as it does. New housing could better serve its current tenants. That it has not been restored to its splendor as a first-rate hotel, especially with its location by the ASU downtown campus and on the light-rail line (WBIYB), is a prime example of the dreadful lack of vision and leadership in Phoenix. The staggering inability to attract moneyed stewards or skillful civic fixers."

You know what, I'm with INPHX on this one. Gentrification is a contemporary form of settler colonialism. I'm tired of chasing poor people out of space so rich people can redevelop it and resell it to less poor people. As if the people living there now wouldn't suffer from being uprooted from their physical and social community with no comperable, centralized location near the services they use and people they love. Do they get a say in the way they'll be dispersed all over the valley? I mean, have we forgotten about the tragedy that was golden gate barrio? Half of south Phx is vacant land and we need to displace people?

I don't even think I would wanna live downtown now. I went to high school with all those hipsters and the best thing that happened to me was getting away from them. At this point, I'd prefer live in downtown Glendale or Peoria. Let's just hope the west side can get some rail soon.

I understand how alluring ideology is, but Rogue's argument is set against an infallible free market, nor is it about "settler colonialism" or whatever the academic jargon du jour is. It's about one of the very few downtown assets Phoenix has and how it's being woefully underused. For a city the size of Phoenix, this is a self-inflicted wound that makes really no sense. It has the rarest of natural attributes - that of a natural crowd generator - which the city needs desperately.

Why do so few people care? Look around you and you see the answer. Phoenix is not a great city. It's Lubbock on steroids.

So frustrating when you agree with people yet they refuse to see the point you make:

Yes, absolutely with Westward Ho. It is a gem. I would love to see it exist as a hotel. But the argument that it is being underused? Do you think the people who live there think it is underused? What did they have to do with the destruction of cultural artifacts downtown? So I don't think it's ideological to take impact on communities into account... that's what we do when we speak against sprawl, right?

Furthermore, Who does it belong to? The people who use it, who own title to it, or the populace at large? While it may be "market pressures" which are now doing the removal, that final line of thinking allowed for downtown to be destroyed in the first place (that decisions on the use of space do not need to include/respect the use of those already there) and it is intellectually inconsistent to argue in favor of this (although it would be best for all) and not that. I have no doubts Rogue can come up with a better argument and challenge him to do so.

Cuz as you said about the infallible free market:


Seriously, where would those people live? In the most expensive neighborhood in the Valley? With public transit and community services nearby? If the cost of a mid-century art deco downtown hotel is uprooting 300+ elderly/mobility impaired individuals from their community, I'd rather go to the Westin. It can serve as a crowd generation just as well.

I miss Emil. He would have disagreed, but he would have at least engaged the point.


So, Mr. real estate/ hotel operator/expert--what do you suggest?

We threw a billion plus at light rail and that hasn't helped the Westward Ho. There's I don't know how many millions tied up in the other subsidies just to keep it afloat for senior housing.

So- why don't you and Talton go raise $50 million or so and show us all what a diamond in the rough that building is and how it's "woefully underused"?

Wait- how about we shitcan the light rail expansion sales tax lift and pour that money into the project?

And then kick all those old folks out. You and Snidley Whiplash.

You sound like a dinosaur, just strolling past the tar pits. Or a chimney sweep, pissed off about new heating methods.

Here, genius. Put this in your financing proposal:


Why is it a binary, either-or choice, assassin? There are plenty of lots along LRT where more functional housing for the elderly and disabled could be built.


Or a new, more functional hotel...

If the numbers worked.

INPHX, I will momentarily indulge your tollity, not that it will make any difference in your mind.

Phoenix's urban form and real-estate decisions have been massively distorted in no small part by decades of subsidies for cars and sprawl.

That's the only way the numbers "worked" — and even then massive fraud was needed to keep it juiced, from the relatively penny ante stuff of the 1950s through the lead-up to the Great Recession.

Troll on.


The numbers don't work, no matter what romanticism you have for the Phoenix you grew up in, and no matter what happened years ago. So, I guess we're left with public money.

Somehow, since you purport that there were subsidies for cars and sprawl, I guess that justifies more subsidies for ideas that real markets just won't support.

As long as they support the urban form.

And then we wonder about the financial mess that the world is in........

Did you read about the downtown Sheraton in the link I posted?

Things have a habit of changing. When the Westward Ho closed around 1980, downtown was close to its nadir. It was a great building then but in a city without enough sense to realize what real urban assets look like. It's also why Phoenix is an also-ran city, sad to say. Every vibrant city has good bones and Phoenix has lousy bones. The Ho is one of the very few assets downtown has and instead of it being available to the community at large, we turned it into a low-end special use that doesn't help downtown, or a city in desperate need of charm and excitement. Rather, it's reserved for a random assortment of challenged adults. Now, according to someone named intellectualassassin, they have permanent squatters' rights there that shall never be abridged or altered because [insert guilt trip/vague argument about costs here].

In a better city, the Westward Ho could be torn down and no one would care or even notice. But Phoenix needs this building like it needs a soul. If you don't care about cities, just say so. Just make abstract judgments about what certain people need and shut down any legitimate argument for rescuing a valuable resource. Because of "settler colonialism" or some crappy pseudo-intellectual stuff Emil specialized in.

Really, is it any mystery why Phoenix looks so forlorn?

INPHX, you are a suburban dude with suburban values and with, perhaps, a Suburban in your driveway. You live somewhere but it doesn't really matter. It could be anywhere as long as you have the ticket price and a taste for the generic.

Downtown Phoenix is different. They have spent a lot of money in a tail-chasing effort to create a "there" in downtown. One thing that definitely helps a city are good old buildings with multiple uses. Say a hotel with nightclub and restaurant space. Phoenix needs this. Scottsdale doesn't need a soul because rich Republicans don't have one to begin with.

It is an economic development asset that Phoenix could leverage for a better downtown, more tourist trade, more community events, and a stronger overall sense of identity. I know: if it doesn't pencil out in your cramped attic of an imagination, we shouldn't even consider it.

Consider this: stay in Scottsdale with your philistine cohort and play gold. That's who you are. Phoenix is different.


I don't like cities. I don't dislike cities. I like choices, and I'm glad you're happy with where you live.

Believe it or not, I know I'm happy with where I live, and in any case, it's usually more about who you are rather than where you are.

I don't like the undeniable arrogance of someone preaching that one choice is better than the other. Or that some archaic dinosaur of a building has a value other than what it is in a market that needs subsidies just to keep it afloat.

But I really like markets. And I really don't like pricing distortions or subsidies.

That's how we wound up where we are. Staggering federal and state deficits that don't even include the right liabilities.

According to the WSJ, Bernie Sanders' "ideas" would cost about $18 TRILLION dollars. Maybe there's a couple of hundred million or so in there to rehab crappy, tired senior centers into luxury, boutique hotels. If so, maybe he's your guy.

I asked this once before and just as with most real world economic problems that you struggle with, you had no answer. But I'll ask again and give you an opportunity to call me a sociopathic racist.

Just what would you suggest with the Westward Ho?

@rogue because there is not the political capital available to do right by the community there.


"Their voices — and they are of many viewpoints — deserve to be heard."

Unless a building of similar density is built, removal would dramatically affect those with limited mobility to maintain the diverse network of relationships they are able to have there. Maybe I'm wrong about that-we would need to ask them-but I have little faith that would happen and I bet redevelopment would exclude those voices.

An aside: downtown Phoenix has all this great architecture because of capital flight. People who were stuck there made it a place of their own. It'd be nice to see the area go back to it's former glory, but it will probably led to the expulsion of those previously living there (even the artists) who made the community actually function.

Even if there were new development, it would have to be at market value, and if previous trends persist, it will be too expensive for low/fixed income people (students, elderly, artists) to utilize sans subsidy.

Finally, there isn't "affordable" housing near the light rail anywhere else except east Phoenix (which may not be salvagble cuz of the airport) and Mesa. Even along 19th ave, unless those homes are reconstituted into multi-family dwellings (or people have roommates) they are pretty expensive for the groups we just mentioned.

tl;dr--Phoenix got screwed up really bad years back, but we can't displace a bunch of old people in our desire to make downtown a place where rich people live and hang out (because that's what it's turning into).


Well, we can pin up yet another example of "Soleri is completely wrong" on the bulletin board, although I know it's getting crowded.

Central Corridor, dumbass. Quite a ways south of Dunlap, north of Camelback, between 7th Street and 7th Avenue. But only for about 18 years or so. And 4 of the 6 houses in my neighborhood have owners that pre-date me.

And I'm still pissed off about how that stupid light rail has turned most of 19th Avenue into something that would embarrass Beirut.

And again, the lecture from the far, far, far, far,far sidelines about how much Phoenix would be helped by sinking probably $100M into a hotel.

Did YOU read the article about the downtown Sheraton?

Real winner, there. And I'm sure all the economic benefits were promised there, too.

PS--the talk about markets is trolltastic. Rogue is completely accurate in his take on suburbanization. It is widely acknowledged that the FHA (a giant subsidy if there ever was one) is the largest reason why the post-war built environment lacks the nuance of the pre-war built environment.

But gentrification is real. Just look at DC. Not chocolate city anymore, is it? If we don't consider and protect the public life of people who suffered through capital flight (cuz they were too poor or stubborn to leave) then what right do we have to say that developers can't come in, buy up desert, and build a new communities like anthem? Just because the latter is silly doesn't mean it doesn't make lots of $$$ and have lots of people who like it.

Soleri, you want to take away the space people have used for the last 35 years to craft a community because what... you want a new hotel to bring "charm and excitement" to downtown? For who? Not for them! Its because those people were there it wasn't torn down and turned to a parking lot and now you want to push them to the side?

Remember that next time a developer takes away valuable desert so a few thousand people can live an hour and a half northwest of downtown. What would Hillary say... eh, she'd probably be fine with both

INPHX-have you thought that the hotel might finally be getting near profitability? Looks like the occupancy/price levels are going up. Maybe now is NOT the time to sell it just took a long time for the subsidization to begin repayment.

Let's hope we can figure out a way to not build a new stadium though. That would be a total boondoggle. My bet is south Phoenix (cuz I believe in the land hustle) but who knows maybe it'd be in the same spot.

It's crazy to think we can come to the same conclusion but from totally different positions...

Cancel ADOT 202 freeway extension through the Salt River Indian reservation and use funds to restore Hotel and turn the Margaret Hance Park into a Desert Botanical Garden for starters.

soleri wrote, "Phoenix is not a great city. It's Lubbock on steroids."

Don't insult Lubbock please.

Phoenix AKA Sprawl Land

Road rage always a possibility in your daily driving experience. Overly aggressive policing although less corrupt than Texas. 107 degrees a day and it is October. Traffic jams all weekend, every weekend. Scottsdale traffic gross.
Taste that polluted air. Walkable city all the way to your early grave from skin cancer. Did they catch the latest shooter taking pot shots at drivers on the interstate. An armed society is a polite society.

All this with low property taxes. What a deal!

In my Portland exile, I can look out my window at a downtown that is both high-end and Calcutta. There are currently a half-dozen boutique hotels being developed in great old buildings. At the same time, it's the epicenter of Portland's huge homeless population. Somehow, it works. Tourists come here and snap pictures even though there isn't a national destination attraction per se. No Space Needle or Golden Gate Bridge. There's just this mid-sized city that has it all, from good to bad, from Powell's to Bud Clark Commons.

Downtown Phoenix doesn't have Portland's bones and it doesn't work, period. There aren't enough good buildings. The new buildings are sterile boxes that could be anywhere, and generate no excitement, crowds, interest, or real urban flavor. When we're in our civic booster mode we have a tendency to tell ourselves stories about how Phoenix is really coming along - just look at all those apartment complexes being constructed on Roosevelt! - and ignore the reality that there is barely a pulse in what ought to be Phoenix's civic heart.

I care about cities, which is one reason I comment so prodigiously on this blog. I share this with Rogue: a bittersweet love for the city of my birth (and home for most of my life). I am as liberal as I can be without resorting to the mau-mau card that some lefties (cough, "intellectualassassin") compulsively play. If Hillary, say, is too right-wing for you, we won't see eye to eye. I'm a realist, a social democrat, and I think Phoenix's mega-sprawl is an absolute profanity.

I took a trip to Canada last month and decided to check out Calgary. I suspected it was like Denver, and sure enough there are some similarities but Denver is the much-better city. What really stood out was a picture-perfect skyline with no real urban fabric at street-level. Like Phoenix, Calgary had been a small city that boomed during the post-war period. And even though it's built a large number of high-rise residential buildings, you don't see many people on the streets or urban excitement. The homeless are few, however, and there aren't the racialized fault lines present in most American big cities.

Calgary, sadly, did what Phoenix did - it tore out so much of its old fabric and neat old buildings to the point that there's no real soul left. In other words, if you want to see Banff, just stay on the freeway after you leave the airport. There isn't a "there" there.

I spend my waking hours obsessing about this problem of human civilization in the automotive age. Nothing fucks up cities more than cars, tearing at the seams of their urban fabric, and making us strangers to one another. Phoenix capitulated completely to this impulse and there's no safe return possible to an era when people actually knew one another in context and real-world relationship. That's dead and gone.

Ideally, Phoenix could grow a little urban fabric in its downtown and remind me people why we live in community. It wouldn't really change Phoenix - most of the city would still cosset INPHX types who don't love their city beyond making it easy for them to drive everywhere and shop at big-box stores - but it would remind the sentient among us why good cities are mankind's greatest achievement

There is no logical argument against restoring the Westward Ho to its previous glory and civic function. There's the emotional blackmail card "intellectualassassin" plays. This counter-argument reminds me of a person from years ago who told me we shouldn't spend a dime on art until the last hungry person is fed. I throw my hands up in despair when I hear this stuff. Really, we can do more than one thing at a time, can't we? Or must we obey a rigid rulebook our puritan overlords impose? Life is complex but we don't have to resort to cartoon stories of human goodness and evil to understand that it's possible to act in good conscience without torturing ourselves with the whiplash of perfection. I'm afraid the Tea Party of the Left will not brook any compromise, however. Either the homeless live there or we're Auschwitz.

Phoenix will always be my hometown. I moved away because it felt hopeless to me. That said, Phoenix is still my original love despite the crushing disappointment of the part 50 years. Is it possible to love Phoenix without either/or constructs? My time horizon is too short to test that proposition. For those of you who still live and fight there, please don't give up.


I am 100% against any public funding for the Suns stadium. If you want to see a failure, look at Glendale and the Coyotes. And Glendale just can't walk away. And I'm sure all the promises were made. More tax revenue, more activity, more people, more commerce.

NBA owners as a group are probably in the .1%. What the heck do they need subsidies for?

But to me, that's the problem. Some want subsidies for stadiums. Or transportation. Or hotels. Or fighter jets. Or electric cars. Or tax breaks. Or labor. Or sprawl.

Pigs at the trough.

And then they justify more subsidies because their already are (or were) subsidies.

And the financial condition of this country is a shambles.

It is interesting to see you and I kind of aligned and I admit my take was not based on gentrification or the unseemly task of relocating the current tenants. More cold, hard economics.

But the affordability issue is becoming a much bigger problem in the cities that so many on this blog love.

If private money can turn the Ho into some sort of destination hotel/ nightclub/ attraction, great.

Soleri writes:

"There is no logical argument against restoring the Westward Ho to its previous glory and civic function."

Well, glad that's settled.

Who could disagree with that impeccable presentation?

INPHX, if there is a logical argument, what is it? Cost? You yourself suggest that the private market might well do it, which is certainly the case in Portland where any number of boutique hotels have already been successfully created without government subsidy. The "human toll"? Something tells me that you would probably welcome dispatching those "takers" to the gutter.

But don't make me guess. Just tell me.


Well, typically extensive real estate/hotel redevelopment projects are not undertaken simply because "there's no reason not to"

I think you'd be looking for a more affirmative set of reasons rather than a double negative.

If private capital makes the deal work, I'm fine with the redevelopment. I'm no expert in hotel redevelopment (and I'm pretty sure you're not either).

But I'll guess:

1. The probable recapture of all the credits that investors have taken if the project is sold and/or the use is changed.

2. The nearby downtown Sheraton is bleeding.

3. I can't even imagine what the costs would be. The rooms are now configured as apartments and you'd have to change them back to hotel use.

4. It's way, way, way too big.

5. Does the location work?

6. As this article points out, starting from scratch is often more efficient than redeveloping:


7. The inability to attract professional management.

But again, these are all guesses.

What we know is that their is abundant capital and really smart hotel people constantly scouring the earth for opportunities.

And if redevelopment of the Ho makes sense, they'll figure it out.

Geez! "Lubbock on steroids"? Really? Whoever wrote that should just move to Seattle or wherever and spare us!

Frankly, I agree wit Jon about the Westward Ho. Sometimes, the "right thing to do" is just too obvious. Restoring the Westward Ho is one of those.

I went to an event recently at the Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport, Iowa. The Blackhawk is a smaller version of what the Westward Ho could be--a charming, restored, downtown hotel. And it's in a much smaller city with no light rail and no parking. Closest thing to it in Arizona is the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott.

As anyone who has read my posts knows, I don't often agree with Jon's "the glass is half empty" view of Phoenix. But if his observations help make us get our act together, so be it.

INPHX, neither of us knows whether the Westward Ho would pencil out, but then again, it's way too early in our civic non-discussion about its future to hazard a guess. This is the point of Rogue's post. We're not talking about its possibilities but we should be.

The Hilton Garden Inn might give us a clue about the economic viability of reclaiming the Ho as a hotel. In a year or two, the answer should be fairly clear. We'll be looking at room rates, etc. My own view is that if the city can use some bond money to jump start the process, go right ahead. The Ho is that important to downtown. There is no other possible miracle that can take downtown from comatose to vibrant. Yes, there's ASU, Roosevelt Row, and the biomedical campus. But those uses, as good as they are, will not attract people downtown. A well-restored Ho could be that elixir.

But, as I already mentioned, we're not even having this discussion, which is the real tragedy. Phoenix needs to brainstorm more bravely. Yes, the puritans will scream but that's a false dilemma as any adult can easily see.

"Penciling out" and "making the numbers work" are deceptive. See the financial crisis, Enron, HealthSouth, Frank Lorenzo, etc. At some point, "the numbers made sense."

Lower Downtown in Denver didn't make financial sense until private and public figures with vision, creativity and a willingness to invest in their city made a leap. Now it's a huge success. People forget that the "sensible financial course" in the 1980s was to tear down the buildings of LoDo.

The Skirvin, a majestic oil-riches palace, sat empty in downtown Oklahoma City for years. At least they didn't tear it down, a fate that many of its fine old buildings met under urban renewal. Finally that same combination made the Skirvin work. Same story in Detroit.

That Phoenix ever let the Westward Ho go is a staggering blunder. Imagine Denver doing that with the Brown Palace?

Given vision, creativity and skills, the Westward Ho could be revived and it could be a "win win" — but people would have to try.

Soleri writes:

"My own view is that if the city can use some bond money to jump start the process, go right ahead."


Why not a new Suns stadium? Why not property tax abatements to spur development south of the baseball park? Why not expand light rail further south? Why not a sales tax carve out for downtown? I bet we need another library or two. And don't forget- the cops need dashboard cameras and a pay raise. Free junior college? Sure.

Why would WE take about the possibilities of the Westward Ho? Why would anyone pretend that what has happened to it be termed a "tragedy"?

A private, overly regulated capital market will figure things out just fine.

BTW, IMHO, the tax credits and other subsidies previously bestowed on it most likely are decreasing the ability to redevelop it.

All for the common good.....

One other thing....

Assuming that the Hotel Palomar opened without any significant subsidies, how would you feel if you owned it and the city granted subsidies to the Ho, who was then going to become your competitor?

Do you think that would encourage other private development?

I want to touch on something intellectualassassin mentioned above about the Golden Gate barrio. This was not gentrification, since it was razed for Sky Harbor expansion. I suspect even if were middle-class and white, the same thing would have happened.

Gentrification is a much maligned idea on the left, and I can understand the powder keg of emotions it releases. No city has gentrified more than Portland over the past 20 years. Blacks still live here in about the same numbers as before, but it's the white population that has taken off. Why? Because the stock of old houses was deep and wide. Another thing: Portland's creative, artisanal ethos attracted a lot of immigrants, particularly from California (and Arizona, I might add). So, the historic black "ghetto" with its sketchy neighborhoods is now extraordinarily vibrant. The city didn't have to do anything except paint bike lanes on busy streets (which really upset the old guard). Instead of the neighborhood being a net drain on Portland, it's a net contributor. Crime has gone down, schools have improved dramatically, and existing homeowners, many of whom are black, are suddenly house rich.

This is what every city dreams of - young people moving in, fixing up derelict properties, and not only saving the city money on the social housing end, but sending much more revenue to the general fund. You don't argue with a rainbow. You just head straight to the pot.

That said, I sympathize with the idea of displacement as a negative social phenomenon. There's something to be said for real communities, not just housing projects or the vertical sprawl of high-rise condos. I don't have a solution except conscientious efforts to push affordable housing programs. But even workforce housing is not the same thing as real, organic communities.

The black ghetto in Portland was an ethic enclave that resisted this gentrification with as much anger as white enclaves resisted black newcomers 60 years ago. The irony should not be lost on anyone. We went through a civil-rights revolution precisely because of malignant ideas like "ethnic purity". You cannot legally permit it. It was wrong when whites did it and it's wrong when blacks do it.

But in my heart of hearts, I understand the power of community. I wish it wasn't predicated on skin color, but it would have to be predicated on something, possibly something equally arbitrary and probably unfair. Again, I'm in sympathy with the organic community argument. But I'm afraid it comes too close to old covenants and deed restrictions. We probably can't reconcile the heart and the mind here for that reason.

That hotel could be used for a variety of venues, it has the guts for retail and dining, a concert venue or reception hall + lodging.

It can't be suited well for disabled folks in wheel chairs, it has to be constantly retro fitted for the needs of the immobile.

Sure, its great that it is on the rail line, and it has been the home to some of those people for 35 years, but I can't see it being a relaxing paradise inside, perhaps a more modern and probably cost efficient solution (ie bettter HVAC and wheel chair access) would suite the unfortunate souls better than a possibly run down old hotel could...

Alright you guys, since romanticism is my thing maybe we can *all* enjoy this: http://repository.asu.edu/items/28323

You will have issues with this on mobile devices. I recommend the clips but there are some nice tidbits in the overall videos. The dining room there was known as the Thunderbird Room and the narrator said this was dinner for 1,000 people.

INPHX, if you don't care about cities, as you've already admitted, you won't see the tragedy of Phoenix with its weak urban pulse, low-end economy, and suburban template. Phoenix is a nice place for drinking margaritas by the poolside, but it's little more than a gigantic sprawl pig of a city. This means it's not attractive to tech start-ups, young creatives, global capital, or anyone with a dream.

You're a money guy who wants to argue economics only from the fear side: debt. As Rogue mentions, every great city makes great investments: Denver with LoDo, Chicago with Millenium Park, San Francisco with its new Bay bridge, Portland with its visionary light-rail network. Phoenix scrapes along the bottom of the barrel with a convention center and its ugly hotel.

I won't argue with you about the miscues and sorry choices Phoenix has made. I've done a lot of heavy breathing in this forum that most of Phoenix's downtown investments were terrible, from the sports' venues to the convention center to the sorry Arizona Center. What I argued FOR were hippies, old buildings, and creative spark. I saw this first in Denver when I lived there in the 1970s. Every vital city, in fact, shows this happy combination of favorable qualities. And it really doesn't cost you anything.

Phoenix was too slick for its own good, and decided to tear down its treasures since everyone knew it was the city of the future. Now it's a city of the past, mired in a strategy that was time-dated 1970. It stuck with this strategy well into Terry Goddard's mayoralty, although he was the guy who finally got us thinking about urban values. Even today, people get excited by a new high-rise box as if that will fix everything.

The blog Rogue Columnist is dedicated to this passion. If you want to argue that Phoenix would be better off if we cut taxes to zero, never dreamed, and only let private capital make the decisions, then you better pray that they strike oil in Arizona. Because private capital doesn't give a rat's ass about Phoenix now. Even Donald Trump wouldn't go downtown a few years ago. He knows a loser when he sees one.

"The freakin' thing needs tons of subsidies just to make it as elderly housing": They could be your grandparents, parents, etc. that need shelter and safety in a building that has a slight glimmer of nostalgia. Hush your mouth.

Being stuck in the grand old 1970s isn't much to write home about. Maybe we can host a Clint Eastwood Days and celebrate him driving his armored bus downtown while the Phoenix PD shoot it up.

The biggest "MISTAKE" that was made in Phoenix, (besides the "money pit" Sheraton Hotel), was doing away with Union Station and AMTRAK service to Phoenix!

I would think INPHX is Bob Robb, but he or she writes with more verve.


In Phoenix, the private market will continue to provide small changes at the margins towards what you see as a noble goal- the urban form.

I'm fine with that. Or not.

It's not Denver, SF, Portland, or Chicago. And none of them are Phoenix.

And public money to try to turn it into any of those is a foolish endeavor.

INPHX, I agree that Phoenix is not those cities and never will be. But it would be foolish not to culture and grow the few pieces of urban tissue the city has. What else does Phoenix have going for it? Ever hotter and longer summers? A host-parasite relationship to suburbs that share their problems but not their wealth? A citizenry crouched defensively against the future? It's getting late in the game for Phoenix. It better make some positive moves, and the restoration of the Ho would be a relatively inexpensive one.

Perish the thought that some "investor" would rehab this building. It would be destroyed by those whose goals are transitory at best. No longer are the developers the local business community It's hit and run, build particle board future slums and be gone with the money. Most who can remember the old Phoenix or the young who came of age here realize their hometown is a wannabe place and therefore do not value what is here and are suffering from feelings of inferiority. Nothing is too sacred to bulldoze or "improve". Enough of this throwaway mentality.
I had occasion to go to the Westward Ho recently and I was delighted to see an unscathed interior. It is also a hub of activity not some nursing home with zoned out folks shuffling around behind a walker. This property, like any with heavy use will need periodic maintenance. This is a place of which to be proud. Creative reuse in action.

Nike also helped with positive urban development in inner city Portland.

What company is Phoenix's Nike?

Phoenix is not Denver but Denver is a future Phoenix with better public transportation and a decent downtown. Even with Denver's respectable efforts it will become Sprawl Land of the mountains.

It is all about natural water be it lakes, oceans, sounds or major rivers. The core or bones grow out from the water. Denver will be more Phoenix than anything else as it continues to grow out.

HMLS, Denver is already there. The last time I drove over I-70, I couldn't believe how far the sprawl edge had gone. Essentially, it now goes from east Aurora to Vail. People love themselves some Rocky Mountain High.

I love the disclaimer before the comments section of Barry Ritholtz's blog:

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

Re Denver:

I have long thought that most of the countryside is hopelessly lost, hence another attraction of good cities. The Front Range is a mess. But Denver is a very high-quality city.

Outside of a places such as Oregon with its urban growth boundaries, albeit weakened, sprawl has destroyed the appealing boundaries of small towns and rural places. The other exception is very poor and less populated places.

When Willcox, Arizona, is the next destination for tract houses and Super Wal-Marts, you know the situation about "living in the country." A subject for a future blog.

One of Phoenix's challenges is that almost every major metro it competes against for talent and high-quality capital has all manner of suburbs, malls, #AllAboutTheCars, an equivalent of Scottsdale, even golf. Metro Seattle (!) has about 100 courses, including the one near Tacoma where the US Open was held.

But the most competitive of these have things Phoenix lacks: vibrant downtowns, walkable urban neighborhoods with unique shops, a life that doesn't depend on cars. This puts Phoenix at a huge disadvantage -- particularly when it has done such a poor job of preserving so many of the things that made it unique and magical.

Yes, it is sunny. But Seattle just went through its warmest, sunniest summer on record. Meanwhile, Phoenix faces a very risky outlook from rising temperatures and other consequences of climate change.

Water has been discovered on Mars
"pity this busy monster, manunkind. Listen I hear there's a hell of a universe next door, let's go."
e.e. cummings.

I'm amazed at the discord here. I too see the private market potential for assets like this one, but I found nothing at all offensive about Rogue's longing for something better to come out of this building for us all.

Let it remain senior housing for all I care, but let's not discard the potential for other uses that better integrate the building with a more vibrant community. What if the ground floor were converted to some kind of retail/public use as a start? I'm not demanding this, but merely suggesting it. I think it would be a hit, and it may encourage further investment in reviving the building in the public's eye.

Phoenix is filled with ugly (Including Tovera Castle) buildings and they seem to get uglier everyday. To my eye the Hotel Westward Ho was never appealing. It reminds me of a Gothic structure out of a Batman Movie. But i doubt that current architecture would provide anything more appealing. A current example of unappealing art structures is the stuff the city erected south of the more appealing old Post Office, (as is the old Train station, appealing). So to those that prefer imposing structures ( anything over one story) may the worlds next Wynand structure be to your liking.

Cal, I agree with your architectural critiques, but I don't think those critiques really disqualify the buildings as good. What matters is how the buildings serve the public with an eye to scale, ornamentation, materials, and civic dignity. By themselves, they suck. In context, they're extraordinarily valuable. The Luhrs Tower, for example, is a minor art deco temple that any schoolboy could have sketched out. Yet it may be the best building in downtown Phoenix.

I love modern architecture for its individual panache and daring. But in urban landscapes, they're often lost or "non-contributing". The Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse makes a strong visual impression on west Washington St but it may as well be on Mars (water or no) given its lack of relationship to anything around it.

In the end, I cherish the old stuff mostly because of the obedience to urban scale along with their superior materials and proportionality. I'm not in favor, however, of raiding the Beaux Arts toolkit for new buildings. That glorious period is over and it's best not to create good-looking corpses just to pay homage to a better period. You end up with stuff that looks like a cheap floozy in a Holiday Inn cocktail lounge.

Rogue mentions the Skirvin in Oklahoma City

Looks like about $30M of the total redevelopment cost of $55M came from federal tax credits and local programs:


From that article:

The tax credits provided by NMR and REI have leveraged a number of other public and private funding sources. In addition to developer equity, private first and second mortgage financing, and federal and state historic tax credits, the project has utilized a section 108 loan, a federal EDI grant, a brownfield loan, and bond proceeds Skirvin Hotel Interior from two separate tax-increment-financing districts. Public assistance funding administered by various agencies of the city has contributed $18,000,000 of the total project costs of $55,000,000.

No, thanks.

BTW, speaking of Oklahoma City, did you know that the venue there where the NBA team plays is owned by the city?


And they passed a 1 cent sales tax bump to pay for $120M in renovations in order to attract the NBA team?

Double no thanks.

Pigs at the trough......

Soleri in my drinking days a "Cheap Floozy in a Holiday Cocktail lounge", looked pretty good.
My CPA'S uncle jumped to his death off the Luhrs. Had he stuck around he probably would had died from Asbestos poisoning. I have friends that cannot drive by any old building without wanting to restore it. Some old things are attractive but they are still old. I drove Nina Pulliam' s 89 caddy around until it got to costly to keep it running. But i have noticed that as i get older I'm getting better looking. Sad as since Jack Elam died I have been Arizona's ugliest dude. And i think Jack a Globe boy died in Portland.

"Beaux Architecture" Again too Gothic and heavy in appearence. I prefer Moorish. Particularly the use of colors and particularly the white wash white. For example a view of a castle looking down the narrow (carless) streets of Calle de las Flores in Cordoba.
But the best structure is a traveling collapsible tent.

Hold it....

I'm in- with one snag.

Once the Obamacare co-ops repay the taxpayers the billions that they borrowed, then we can afford the federal tax subsidies to redevelop the Westward Ho.

Oh, snap.....


or we could build a desert Botanical garden on the empty property behind the Bayless Home near where Inphx lives. And use some funds to return Central Avenue to two lanes between the Arizona Canal and Camelback with overhanging Cottonwoods. And do something with that Ugly structure surrounded by asphalt on the SE corner of Central and Bethany Home Road. Room for more Sahuaros.

Back on topic. If you want a counter-example to urbanism, there's Charlotte. It tore down scores of great old buildings and the fabric of its downtown. It lacked anything of the value of the Westward Ho, Luhrs Tower, old City-County building. Still, it lost a lot.

But it had two money center banks and, in Hugh McColl Jr., a born-again urbanist from the 1990s on. So downtown ("Uptown") Charlotte was rebuilt impressively -- given the limitations of today's architecture. The Fourth Ward neighborhood where I lived was saved and is the closet thing to an authentic place worth loving.

For all this, it is sterile and lacks the variety and architectural magic it might have had.

INPHX, yeah, instead of plowing $3 trillion down a rathole in the Middle East, sane adults actually spent some money at home. But keep falling for that trick Republicans play on you rubes. You obviously don't quite get the idea of investment at home but are all in favor of no-questions-asked defense spending. Notice how all the Krazy Klowns want to INCREASE the amount we hand over to defense contractors? And cut taxes? It's almost Pavlovian with you guys, isn't it?

Cal, I agree that North Phoenix Baptist Church is an eyesore (despite being designed by noted Phoenix architect Ralph Haver). It's also John McCain's "church", or was when he was running for president in 2008. It was one of the first mega-churches in Phoenix, famous for all the various clubs and activities it uses to keep its membership up. But the demographics are no longer favorable for that hustle. North Central is a bit more sophisticated (with some notable exceptions, er, cough, cough). than the could-be-anywhere suburbs that require Big Box religion to avoid dying of loneliness.

BTW, before the church was built in the 1970s, the site - an old hobby farm/ranch of about 40 acres - was one the most glorious vistas in Phoenix. Driving up Central, you'd see Squaw Peak looming over a Mediterranean house surround by a citrus grove, with cattle grazing on the perimeter. It was one of those sights that made me love Phoenix. And like so much from that era, it's gone, never to return, much like youth itself.

A big problem with buildings of the Ho’s age is the enormous cost for renovation. This is due to many things but three that stand out are: (1) they are typically drenched in asbestos, (2) lead paint all over everything and (3) old, obsolete HVAC, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. Buildings are typically grand-fathered to the building code that was in force when they were built. However, it you replace or significantly modify something (e.g. the motors used by the elevator system) you have to bring the entire system (e.g. the entire elevator) up to today’s code.

Another is the absence of replacement parts for system components – there aren’t any.

All of this is amplified if you’re trying to keep the facility in operation during the restoration.

Anyone who has owned an evenly moderately old house runs into this sort of thing all the time.

On a different note: “The Top of the Ho” sounds more like a discrete bordello on the 13th floor reachable only by a secret elevator.

and of course one of my favorite religious story's was by Terry Greene Sterling; The Baptist Foundation. one of the best white collar crime investigations ever done by an Arizona REPORTER.


Time after time, I have criticized the Bush administration for not passing a tax increase for the Iraq war.

To me, the budget is not a partisan issue.

To you, it pretty clearly is.

Want to start a war? Pay for it. Want cradle to grave? Pay for them. Tax credits for senior housing? Pay for them. Tax loopholes? Pay for them. Basketball arenas owned by cities? Not a chance.

See, any idiot can borrow money and start a war, or offer tax credits, or subsidies for every screwball idea that you can think of. That's EASY.

To me, you balance the budget. If there's no will to increase taxes, then you can't spend the money. If there is will to increase taxes, then you can spend the money.

ALL pigs at the trough.

$18 trillion and counting


And that doesn't include lots of state deficits and unfunded liabilities.

About $60,000.00 for every man, woman, and child in the US. My son has about $103.43 in his bank account, so someone's got to make up for that.

You know the way you guys feel about global warming? That's the way I feel about the deficits our federal and states are running.

Only worse.

Ok restore the Ho and the train station. The hotel should allow for college students living and also for seniors a place to escape the Soylent Green machine. You can put a Dennys and a Starbucks in the basement. And the seniors could tutor and the kids could push them in their wheel chairs across the street to the ASU medical center for Dementia studies.

Obama warming vs The Debt? Maybe inphx can write us a column explaning that in detail?
"$103.43" but what about the tidy amount his grandparents left him?


I blew through the Trust that my son's grandparents (my parents) set up for him.

Went long on Enron; lost the rest in the BFA fiasco.

(I'm just kidding)

Funny scenario with the oldsters and the college kids. Sounds like a sitcom--

"Cal and the Hipsters"?

INPHX, your feeling about the debt is just that: a "feeling" devoid of either empirical evidence or real-world import. It's just you pretending to know something that is otherwise meaningless in our lives. The proof is a virtual inflation-free economy. With all this deficit spending going, where's the fire? By contrast, climate change will ruin your son's life. Of course, since that's based on science rather than your feelings, you don't think twice about it.

I really don't care if you see yourself as the last sage Republican or not, but it's a meaningless distinction since you are a partisan Republican in every sense of the word. Your fellow party members want more defense spending, not less, more wars in the Middle East, more unilateralism, and less spending on veterans. Because your party loves war a lot more than the people you bamboozle into fighting them.

The negligible amount we spend on infrastructure in this country somehow exercises people like you to no end. Never mind defense is an order-of-magnitude greater burden to taxpayers with little to show for it except a destabilized Middle East and an Israel with universal health care (thank you very much!).

We're a country whistling past the graveyard when it comes to decrepit infrastructure, huge income inequality, the worst social mobility among OECD nations, and an edcuational system indenturing students to debts that will take decades to pay off. Time for a little nation-building at home. I know: the debt bomb will go off just as soon as take the emergency brake off our economy. But tax revenues will go up, too. And maybe our nation will be a global leader again in something besides imprisoning its citizens and pauperizing our young people.


Well, I guess you're right (like always). I guess it's just an irrational feeling I have.

I mean, it's not like any government agency charged with watching the numbers is worried. It's not like really bright people who have run the numbers are worried about the oncoming explosion in medicare and social security. And that economic growth just might not get us out of the hole.

Oh, wait....

That's EXACTLY what happened:


Focus (if you can) on "unsustainable". You guys LOVE sustainable, don't you??

Well, never mind. It's just an odd feeling I have, and at least the situation can't get any worse than the CBO numbers above. I'm sure they've captured everything.

Oh. wait.....



I guess it's just a "feeling" to all those guys, too??

See, if I was going to deny global warming, I'd accuse you of just having a feeling. And then you'd post article by people who really know about it.

Kind of like the CBO and the freakin' budget.

So, Mr Chicken Little, let me guess: either we cut SS and Medicare now, or the world goes KABOOM! I've seen these arguments from the same side that "dynamically scores" tax cuts, to mean the economy will take off and revenues explode. But first, we have to cut SS and Medicare, abolish the VA, and cut food stamps while we're at it, because ......er......voodoo will really work this time!

No it won't. You'll immiserate millions because your horrifying ideology - Ayn Rand coupled with Arthur Laffer - is just a way to make sure the rich can opt out of the social contract, offshore their millions, and live like kings in a nation skidding off the rails because of your rancid ideology.

If you wanted to ensure Social Security will be there for the remainder of the century, merely remove the income cap on FICA. You want to stanch the bleeding of Medicare, move to a single-payer system and establish price checks on a health-care sector that is out of control because we pay full retail for a very greedy oligopoly. It's not impossible, of course, to redress this terrible fiscal imbalance and there is historic precedent, as well. This nation was at its strongest when the upper marginal tax rate was 90% under the noted Communist, Dwight Eisenhower.

As I noted above, your feelings matter more to you than anything else. I've never met a Randian who wasn't essentially a sociopath. You don't want to pay more taxes so others might simply live. Republicans are very "Christian" in that way, of course. It's never you guys who take, just the darkies and Mexicans. I spend a lot of time wondering how Jesus became a flunky for the Daddy Warbucks of America, but I'm convinced debt hysteria is more couched in nativism and race than actual math. That's why your libertarian ideology is inherently fraudulent. You're very comfortable with Republican presidential candidates promising tax cuts and defense-spending hikes. That doesn't bother you period. What bothers you is that some people want to spend money on things you don't like, say, infrastructure, education, research, and food stamps. That is the road to perdition, not the 57% of our discretionary budget going to defense.

I'm a social democrat not because I think everyone is wonderful but because everyone is human. People make mistakes, eat too much, drive too fast, and spend money on things they can't afford. Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives. We're all human. We have to get over this idea that some of us better than others (and we know what color the "others" are). This situation is not impossible. Your solution is. Because it's a constructed lie based on racism and greed.

INPHX, let us know when your Republican Party is willing to negotiate your budgetary concerns. The GOP can barely and rarely govern itself, causing costly and senseless government shutdowns. Obstruction until Republicans control the White House and Congress is their plan. Were that sad event to occur, Republicans would only increase the deficit with tax cuts to the well off and large defense spending increases.

So why harp at Democrats? Yours is the party of "deficits don't matter" military spending.

@Emmy Brighton re: “I had occasion to go to the Westward Ho recently and I was delighted to see an unscathed interior. It is also a hub of activity not some nursing home with zoned out folks shuffling around behind a walker.” I’m curious about what sort of uses are made of the first two floors of the building – which guess would be called the public are of the build (at least when it was a hotel)

@Soleri re: “What matters is how the buildings serve the public with an eye to scale, ornamentation, materials, and civic dignity.” It’s always gratifying to find something I can agree with you totally. Then we come to “By themselves, they suck.” Which I can sort of agree with. My point: without them, a great building (or even a good one) is out of the question – there are a few exceptions (but they are rare-rare-rare).

Can’t comment of the Luhrs Tower – I know nothing, and I mean nothing, about it. (RC: this might make a good 101 topic).

Re: the O’Conner Federal Courthouse. I hate it – for pretty much the items you listed above. A huge glass box with attached faux-columns and pediment (intended to be a parody, irony or satirical statement?).

The Sandra Day O'Conner court house should have appropriately resembled a large Ranch House.

Cal, Jack Elam may have gone up to Portland to die, but he lived in Ashland, a great little college town in Southern Oregon. Did you know he never learned to ride a horse, even growing up in Globe?

Soleri and HMLS:

What brilliant, unique responses.

It's all the GOP's fault.

Way back in 2011, here's what S and P said when they downgraded, for the first time ever, US debt:

"Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon"

Do you think that situation has gotten any better? Do you think the politicians in Washington are more likely today to be able to fix the long term problem than they were in 2011? Has there been any budget negotiations since 2011?

Soleri proposes three ideas that are right around the corner, likely to be implemented anyday, often endorsed by politicians of all party affiliations, and clearly favored by an overwhelming majority of Americans:

Single Payer
Eliminate the cap on SS earnings.
90% top marginal tax rate

And then he writes:

"I'm a social democrat not because I think everyone is wonderful but because everyone is human."


You're a social democrat because you haven't a clue about reality.

This blog demonstrates the problem perfectly. The problem is that there is no indication whatsoever that the parties can come together for a solution.

And the interest keeps ticking, and the deficit keeps building...

Want a laugh?

Soleri hints at a 90% (like 60 years ago) tax rate and then complains about offshoring.


It's not like there'd be any more offshoring today given a 90% tax rate, or that money can move more easily across borders today than it did in the late 1950's.

The heck with the 90%. Let's go to 100%. Cause that will halt the offshoring.

Pat, no on Jack and the Horse but I know he lost his eye in a fight at Ciots Ball Room in Phoenix on Central Avenue just south of Indian School on the west side. About a block from the 19 cents McDonald's where I had my last teenage fight in the back lot.

INPHX, 90 percent Bernie is rising!
Do U think a Mujica would help?

INPHX, I wasn't proposing a 90% rate, which you know, but your College Republican debating style intends to confuse and mislead, not to illuminate. You're a full-bore zealot and I would expect nothing else from you.

The reason I brought up that number was simply to illustrate that ideology is not always the best guide to reality. If America not only survived but prospered with a high marginal tax rate suggests that high taxes are not economically ruinous. Just the opposite, it would appear.

There are many ways to get to a desirable goal of long-term fiscal stability and they don't all involve gutting Social Security, privatizing Medicare, ending the VA, and throwing millions off food stamps. We can actually be a decent, first-world nation that also doesn't depend on asset bubbles, voodoo economics, and financial legerdemain to goose the economy.

Republicans are utterly bereft of any economic ideas that don't involve making the rich richer and ending all regulatory oversight. You don't argue with zealots, needless to say, so I realize the compelte futility of this conversation. This country has always fared better when liberals were in charge, when we had a strong middle class, social mobility, and low income inequality. The nightmare scenario you advocate would tear this nation apart. It would create social divisions so huge that the nation would be ungovernable. You would necessarily have to create a police state in order to control the millions of desperate citizens you would plunge into deep, grinding poverty.

There is no first-world nation on Earth that does it your way. None. Have you ever wondered why? Sadly, ordinary curiosity is not a trait we often find among ideologues. Why are all the nations where life is actually secure, pleasant, and rational also nations that tax highly enough in order to redistribute wealth?

You don't know, you don't care, and you don't want to. Your obscene ideology only depends on convincing the stressed white working class to believe that it all comes down to feckless liberals giving blacks "free stuff". This toxic - and racist - idea is the core of your fantasy political economy. It's why Republicans have crossed the line from an actual political party into a deeply irrational political cult. It's why yours is the party of secession, civil war, and national self-destruction. I shudder to think what you cretins are doing to this nation. It is more than ominous now. It's a full-blown nightmare.


Debating tax policy and economics with you is akin to Miley Cyrus writing a song with Barbara Streisand.

But I guess you can stick your tongue out, eh???

I have proposed no nightmare scenario that would tear this nation apart; that is childish hyperbole.

I know that you and brevity are like the same poles of a magnet. But I like concise, so here:

1. The budget(s) is a problem.
2. There's no will to fix it.
3. The problem gets bigger.
4. Go back to 1.

BTW, revenue is at an all time high. So, there's that.

But you stick with the cretin racist cult

"The budget is a problem" When has it not been a problem? But how about this problem: "Technology will erase millons of Jobs." I think 200 years ago Malthus proposed a bigger problem than the measly issue of how the world spends MONEY.

Debt hysteria is all the rage - or was - among the Very Serious People several years ago. It's based less on any economic theory than the puritanical notion that "we're living beyond our means, all we'll end up in the gutter if we don't tighten our belts". Into this farrago of feelings emerged a a plan created by Obama appointees, Simpson and Bowles. Reduce the deficit by various spending cuts and adjustments (e.g., chained CPI for SS calculations). There were some modest tax reform, etc., but not tax increases, which Republicans announced were "off the table" for any serious discussion. Out of all this, we were talking maybe $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

Obama, to the howls and consternation of his base, bought off on the deep Medicare cuts and SS adjustments. He acceded to the pension cuts in the federal workforce, including military. He met Republicans 90% of the way. Guess who refused to budge?

The Grand Bargain failed for the same reason America is failing. Because zealots don't compromise. They won't consider tax increases period. They won't compromise even when the deal gives them most of what they want. They won't make significant cuts in the bloated defense budget. That's why we call them zealots. Compromise is for wusses.

If Republicans were truly interested in deficit reduction (but only when a Democrat is president!), they could have gotten most of what they wanted. But True Believers don't compromise. Obama abandoned his political base to meet them more than halfway. Not good enough. It's either everything or nothing.

America: this is your future. Keep voting for these hypocrites who hate deficits only when a Democrat is president, who bargain in bad faith, and who willingly subject the nation to a credit downgrade to score political points, who cost the nation billions during their last showdown stunt. Or simply mutter to yourself that "both parties do it" and ignore the Theater of the Absurd that politics in this nation has become.

You're a Republican? You're the problem.


You're a liar.


In the final vote on the Simpson Bowles idea, 11 voted for it (5 Republicans and 6 Democrats)

7 voted against it (3 Republicans and 4 Democrats)

It needed 14 to pass.

A version of it failed the House by the slimmest of margins- 382 to 38.

But certainly any liberal economist would have been for it, wouldn't they have been?

Oh, wait....

"The proposal was dismissed as "unserious" by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for its large cuts in income tax rates.[19] Krugman dismissed the idea that current marginal rates are a drag on economic growth. Further, he doubted that proposed combination of rate cuts and removal of deductions and loopholes will be revenue neutral, let alone increase revenue."

Now that you realize that your opinion of the Bowles Simpson proposal was wrong, does that change your thinking?

Or are we just going to get more racist cult nonsense?

You LIE about important attempts to fix budget problems?

You're the problem

I think INPHX and Soleri need a time out.

Actually, blowhard, I never said anything about the Commission vote per se. Again, your College Republican debating style crushes any semblance of truth. Unsurprisingly, the commission appointees were favorably inclined. They were appointed for that reason. What wasn't bargained for was the Republican House caucus pretty much scuttling Boehner's efforts for a compromise. Democrats would have been a tough sell, too. But as the TPP vote showed, Obama probably could have wrestled the needed votes. But again Republicans wanted more than 90% of their demands along with no tax increases period. Zealots tend to be that way.

Krugman is absolutely correct in his analysis. I'll see his Nobel prize to your Amway Goober of the Month award. I was happy that it failed, since it would have added even more headwinds to a mediocre recovery.

Okay, enough. This topic is done.


1. Obama appoints a commission to try to tame the deficit.

2. Just about as many Democrats on that commission oppose the ideas as Republicans.

3. The leading "just left of Bernie" economist (Krug a roo) opposes it.

4. So does Soleri.

And Republicans are the problem......

Republicans and Democrats:
So was E O Wilson right about "Group Evolution"?
Will Bernie become Adbusters Hero and deconstruct the the Pols?

The Luhrs Tower (1929) is one of the last designs of the El Paso firm Trost and Trost, responsible for more than 55 projects throughout the southwest and Mexico between 1898 and about 1935. They completed residential and commercial projects in more than 25 Arizona towns, especially in Bisbee and Tucson. They also designed the nearby Luhrs Building. We have some very nice drawings. They have their fans: http://www.henrytrost.org/

It seems as though a few people missed the point of this article. It was never suggested that the City take ownership of a 2nd hotel property as it did with the Sheraton; nor, did it suggest simply displacing the seniors who currently live in the Westward Ho.

The main point is that because of the short-sightedness of the City (extending the HUD contract almost indefinitely), they've completely eliminated the chance that the private sector could at some point come in and turn the property (yes, maybe with some benefits, like all projects, esp. the Palomar which is part of CityScape) into a use that would promote public engagement with the building.

Given the massive chunk of land the City just RFP'd between 4th and 6th ave, Van Buren and Fillmore, a very reasonable solution would be for the City to require senior housing be built as part of that bid. Surely, a 1928 building is not providing the highest standard of care for these seniors. In this case, they would get a brand new facility, and the City would get an architecturally attractive asset to RFP at a later date (i.e., Barrister building).

It doesn't take much more than a set of eyes to see how big a piece of the downtown puzzle the Ho represents. In its current state, it completely cuts off the ASU district from the Roosevelt Row part of town. If the rooms above were filled by people with disposable income, that void could be filled with retailers the city so badly needs.

Instead, the entire ground level is being turned into an ASU teaching clinic, with the purpose of serving the residents of the Ho. This is another example of ASU failing miserably on its promise to facilitate true urban development in Phoenix through its presence. The clinic is a great idea, but 1) it does not need to be located along prime Central Ave frontage, and 2) it should serve the entire community.

This, of course, is nothing surprising. Look at the Security Building occupied by the County. Prime retail lining VB and Central, filled in with opaque paper. Yet another building that the public has no connection with, and that could have served as a catalyst toward a critical mass of retail vs. the sporadic nature of the current pattern.

By the way, The Professional Building being turned into an HGI isn't quite the win it appears to be. The rooms will be entirely generic- the only areas being preserved are the exterior and the lobby. That property deserved a boutique, one-of-a-kind hotel that highlighted its past and respected its historic integrity. To have a nightlife destination akin to the clubs seen within W hotels would have been a huge step for downtown in providing a range of options beyond hipster. Instead, the HGI - a midpriced hotel - will have just 3 retail spots for lease, and I can guarantee they aren't going to be game-changers.

I am a 75 yr old as native who spent the last 4 mos in the WH before escaping. I remember it's beautiful days and going to events there. The renovation is a joke. While I would have liked to see it truly restored this effort I'd a joke. It should have been restored as the magnificient place it was for all to enjoy. The remodeling consists of putting cheap linoleum on the floors...the cheapest of cheap pressed sawdust cabinets so small that a normal dinner plate won't fit. The last 7 weeks I was there the water was shut off every weekday from 8-4pm...no water or toilet during that time for the tower other than 1 bathroom on the 2nd floor...there are 14 floors of residents and only one small elevator working...and it down part of the time...the drugs and alcohol use rampant...at times you stepped over vomit on the hallway floors...i have a service dog...my place was immaculate but other dogs were allowed to bark and attack any time with no reprimand. It was a horrible nightmare. I am at a different place..not new but awesome, beautiful and immaculate with wonderful sweet neighbors...same price to me...10 times the amenities and management is wonderful...plus here the retail rent is $200 less than the $850 a month than HUD approved for the HO...which doesn't matter to me but tax payers are paying it plus the $44+M from HUD...how can something like that be approved by Arizonans? The days of reason and sanity in Arizona are gone...we need Goldwater, Steiger, and others of long ago who worked to make this state great...as it stands now the Westward Ho will be nothing but a ghetto because of the owners and management....and taxpayers will pay forever to pay it and the $22T our current genius is leaving us with.

The Westward Ho's current fate is one that is both dismaying and uplifting. It is indeed dismaying that the once grand hotel has not been restored and revitalized as a glamorous boutique hotel much like its sister, the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles. However, its incarnation as a HUD residence for the elderly and disabled means that it escaped the fate of so many downtown Phoenix buildings, and it still enjoys a prominent place on the Phoenix skyline.

More than a decade ago, when the building's contract with HUD was ending, I had devised a concept for turning the Ho into a multi-use residential/commercial property that would have incorporated a hotel with condominium and apartment living, plus urban services which included a supermarket, a gym, a laundromat/dry cleaner, and a few other boutique retail spaces. I envisioned the Ho as a city within a city. But the owners renewed their HUD contract and set out to do their own renovation of the hotel.

By getting involved with residents at the Ho, I not only assisted in preserving the hotel's history, I also got to know many of the elderly people living there. And because of the exposure I had, I came to realize that, for now anyway, the purpose that the Westward Ho is serving as an affordable home to the elderly and disabled is one of the loftier purposes it could.

As someone who has spent a lot of time inside the building, examining it from stem to stern, I can say that the structure has suffered a number of changes that would make converting it back into a hotel a rather costly endeavor. Guest rooms have been altered and cobbled together to create larger units that include kitchens. Solid poured concrete walls throughout warranted that sprinkler systems, which were not installed until the 1980's, be run on the exterior of the walls. To put the supply lines inside the walls would again be an endeavor of enormous cost. Stairways and open-air fire escapes have been enclosed or removed altogether. And much of the original character of the building has been lost in various remodelings over the years.

The bottom line is that it would be cost prohibitive to restore the building to its original grandeur, and it would take a lifetime or two before investors would see a full return on their money. Some estimates were done to calculate how much the hotel would have to charge to make it economically feasible, and at that time the projected room cost would be over $200 per night. It is doubtful that Phoenix could attract enough of a "money is no object" clientele to make the endeavor of restoring the building to a hotel something worth pursuing.

So for now, we can all be grateful that, in a city where any commercial building over 25 years old is seen as past its prime, the Westward Ho is still standing and serving a purpose. I don't agree with many of the things that have been done to the Ho since 2003. I think a greater sensitivity to its history could have been exercised. I think that the neon signs atop the building could have been painted as they were originally, and that the color scheme inside and outside of the building could have followed the original scheme more closely. I think that the Thunderbird Room should have been utilized as a supermarket so that the residents in the building as well as downtown dwellers had a convenient place to shop for groceries and other needed items (it was instead converted into 32 one bedroom apartments). And I think that it would be nice if the owners sprung to have the lobby ceiling repainted and gilded as it was in its heyday. But the reality is that I'm not the one holding the purse strings. And to that end, I have to acquiesce to the vision that the owners of the building have for the Westward Ho, and hope that they make good, sensitive decisions regarding its appearance from here on in.

If you would like to know more about the history of the Westward Ho and see what it looked like both inside and out back in the day, check out The Westward Ho Time Capsule page on Facebook:

I would like to take a moment to correct a few of the blogster's inaccurate descriptions and factual errors about the hotel.

"Presidents, movie stars and gangsters (Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel among them) stayed there."

It is true that Harry S. Truman stayed at the Westward Ho. Men who would become future presidents (Richard Nixon, JFK, Ronald Reagan) stayed there as well. As to the rumor that Bugsy Siegel's car was buried in the hotel's sub basement following a torrential rain that flooded downtown and collapsed the ceiling, that's only an urban legend. The Ho has no sub basement, never did, and the only time that downtown Phoenix flooded was at least 5 years before the hotel was built. There is no confirmation that Siegel ever stayed at the Westward Ho. As for Al Capone, he would have had to stay at the hotel prior to his arrest in May of 1932 when he was convicted and sent to federal prison. I have never found any confirmation of his stay at the hotel which leads me to believe that it is nothing more than another urban legend.

"The interior was spectacular, the huge lobby presided over by massive oak arches, gilt chandeliers and featuring Spanish tile and a ceiling of pressed tin and molded plaster."

The arches were concrete, as were the rest of the walls and ceilings throughout the hotel. Arches and walls were textured and faux-painted to resemble stone, and in more recent times someone re-fauxed the arches once again to look like stone. "Wood" beams throughout the first floor were again formed concrete painted to look like wood and then stencilled. There was almost no wood used in the construction of the hotel, save for the lobby desk and the dining room and ballroom floors. The whole of the hotel was poured concrete, which is probably why it was able to survive for 50 years without a sprinkler system.

The chandelier in the lobby was made of iron and wood, with glass cups surrounding each light bulb. A few details on that chandelier were gilded, but not the entire fixture. Other chandeliers in the hotel's public rooms were made of iron that was not gilded. The lobby chandelier that was installed in the early 60's, and which still exists, is of polished brass. Originally it had conical pierced metal shades, but those are long gone. Matching sconces decorated the walls of the first storey but have been removed or replaced for the most part.

The "Spanish tile" that decorates the floors was also added in the 1960's. Originally the floors were covered in saltillo tiles. The only Spanish (or Mexican) tiles that were original to the hotel were on the risers of the stairs. Some still exist where they are not covered up.

The ceiling in the lobby is reportedly formed of plaster. The legend says that 12 Italian craftsmen carved the ceiling, but there has been no concrete evidence to support this story. It was originally painted in dark turquoise and terra cotta, and the filigree rope details outlining each section were gilded. If there was any tin or other metal on that ceiling, it was only in the center air vent cavity from which the chandelier is hung.

"After World War II, as the automobile became more dominant, the Westward Ho expanded, adding a garage and annex specifically aimed at motor travelers."

The Westward Ho Garage opened somewhere around 1930, on the Northeast corner of Central Avenue and Fillmore Street. It offered a certain amount of rooftop parking, but nowhere near enough for 350 guests. In more recent times, the garage served as the Jewel Box pawn shop. It has since been torn down for a parking lot.

The hotel never had a parking garage on its premises, except for a 2- or 3-car garage by the service lot abutting the North wing of the hotel which was probably used by the hotel's owner at the time, Mr. John B. Mills. The land from the back of the hotel to 1st Avenue was originally a great lawn (called the Tropical Patio), part of which was built upon when the hotel added the Patio Suites addition. More of the lawn was gobbled up by the swimming pool and deck, and finally the Thunderbird Room (following the demise of the Women's Club at 1st and Fillmore). The hotel ultimately used a few available lots on the East side of Central and the Southwest corner of Central and McKinley (the lot now used by Grand Coffee House), for parking in the post-war years.

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