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April 27, 2016


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I would say that 2/3 of the building remains, not 2/3 were demolished. Still they were jerks. Oops, did I accidentally bulldoze something that was unusual and perhaps even historic?

Jon, I guess you have not been back it town to see it, but the developer actually stopped well short of demolishing 2/3 (or closer to 3/4) of the building as they had intended. The only major damage has been to the northwest corner, maybe 1/4 of the building. Apparently that is as much as you can quickly demo in one day before you realize that you are burning every bridge you had with the neighborhoods and the city.

I am still hopeful a win can be pulled out of this steaming pile. The developer has come back to the table and I believe they are coming to the realization that there will be no public assistance, and lots of public resistance, to their initial plan.

In addition it really is starting to look like it might be possible to get some progress on demolition reform as a result of this debacle.

Let's hope so, Bob Graham. And Jon, always appreciate your sharing your personal knowledge about the history of our city.

I didn't grow up here but still remember some of the big houses that formerly reigned so grandly along Central Avenue. We used to go to lunch at a place called "Two Lips Cafe," in a big brick house on the west side of Central, not far from the Spaghetti Company. (As an a aside, I'm always baffled that Spaghetti Company has thrived for so many years.)

Unfortunately, much of Phoenix's downtown wasn't built with brick and mortar, but with something cheaper along the lines of stucco veneer. After 50-70 years, about all one can do is demolish because it look rather tawdry.
Sandblasting stucco? Not bloody likely.

Repurposing when land was cheap (it still is) doesn't lend itself to charming results, such as a "street scene" common in older cities.

Also, to have a vibrant street scene, one needs social Darwinism in the form of cultural diversity. As well, Phoenix's physical street and building layout really lacks the "storefronts" and setbacks that allow a "cross-pollination" social flowering for such street theatre. And the arts scene is tepid at best.


Thank you for writing, but most of pre-1960 Phoenix was not stucco veneer. That's the crapola they've built from Su-prise to fashionable "South Chandler."

Unfortunately, much of the earlier storefronts and other buildings were covered up with stucco crap. One example is the building on the northwest corner of Adams and Central. Take off the false front and you will find a handsome brick building underneath. I could name a dozen more off the top of my head.

I've never heard Jane Jacob's ballet of the street equated with Social Darwinism, but old Phoenix actually had the former. Downtown could have it again.

While improvements to the demolition process like enhanced notification is helpful, I wouldn't call it a solution. It's true that part of the issue here is prop 207 and I definitely support using GPLET to save Circles, but, Phoenix must think of this as just an interim strategy of borrowing more time for a real solution. A city can't GPLET every historic property (for one thing, GPLET can only be used Downtown) and each time it is used, it just incentivizes more of these hostage situations.

There must be a voter-initiated ballot proposition that eliminates 207 and gives cities all of the tools necessary for quality urban development, such as TIF, special districts, etc. It's possible that this could be effectively accomplished through just a simple "home rule" proposition that gets the state legislature out of local decision-making. This works well in Denver, for example.

But back to the Circles issue, as it's one of my favorite buildings in Phoenix, maybe Bob can chime in here and correct me, but why wasn't this "agreement" with the City and the developer made prior to the demo permit being issued? The demo permit application was submitted at least a couple months ago, as someone who isn't even involved in the "Preservation Police" posted it on my FB page. Why wasn't GPLET in exchange for rescinding the demo permit application the agreement?

It appears to be a fuckup by the City. Which usually means "not a priority". Which doesn't support Jon's observation that there is more "consciousness" about HP than back in the 80's and 90's. The activist Jon quotes puts in well, "it's a shit show".

Going on 45 years in Arizona, and never, not for a nanosecond had the desire to live in the State of Maricopa, nor its bastard cousin Pinalville. Phoenix is an annoying blot on a beautiful landscape, one of the most amazing landscapes in the world. The "Feeno-centric" scene in our state forces me to pass through the stucco vacuum en route to the real pleasures of southern Arizona - all roads lead there. The "Feeno-centrism" looks at my community -Flagstaff - as a backwater you only see if you missed the turnoff to Sedona. Well, at least we have a strong community, a vibrant arts scene, and in spite if the "Feeno-developers, a sense of place. At least for now. I don't know if any form of a sense of community will ever take root in Phoenix, beyond a few historic neighborhoods. The deck is stacked toward more stucco more chain restaurants, and ... that pasture pool thing.

I always appreciate your insights, Ex Phx Planner. As for "consciousness," I was speaking of more citizen-activists and organizations than in the 1980s.

I feel for Flag residents. Like Prescott, this was once a wonderful, real town. And one is hiding in there, beneath all the sprawl, subdivisions, Super Wal-Mart, mall, vehicular dependence, etc.

Kemo Sabe, I'm camped in near Harshaw. Can I pour U a hot cup of brew .
Carbrone cal

The continuing theme here is, "saving phoenix, when in reality we just continue to destroy the great landscape of the Sonoran desert. We humans keep weeping about this matter so I suggest to U all an

Ed Abbey, Quote, "I have never heard a mountain lion bawling over the fate of his soul."

The solution requires more than writing about the soul of Phoenix, it requires physical actions.

Personally I prefer that Phoenix was never more than a small somewhat mostly winter inhabited village along the banks of the occasionally flowing Salt River.


You are channeling your inner Sloper.

Phoenix, with five rivers converging nearby, was always going to be something big -- just as it was for the Hohokam.

I would have preferred it as American Eden surrounding a compact, dense oasis city, with plenty of room for "sahuaros" all around.

Thanks Jon, i agree with U
however the Sahuaro are still here
not so the HoHokam.

I assume that the people doing the actual demo work were sub-contractors.Since I was one for 30 years,I never did anything without a work order,since if I didn't,I didn't get paid without one.Look who signed the workorder and you will know who authorized it.

To Rogue Columnist:

I agree with you on the fact that it isn't all stucco veneer.

But to have a truly vibrant downtown, you would have to have the "roux" of a politically humanistic will, based in equality, that would be open to something more than a quick buck.

It might happen, but I think there is a resistance to an "edgy" element in this bastion of homogeneity.

I do wish it weren't so, but the evidence to the contrary is sketchy at best.

Possibly in the future: We can hope....

Keep up the good fight. I am certainly with you.

To The Rogue Columnist:

With regard to my using the term "Social Darwinism, I strongly believe the long-term viability of anything (say, a street scene or a society)is dependent upon the variety of influences within it or acting upon it--with more being better. The less the number of influences within or acting upon the subject matter, the less likely it will be viable and survive. Simply put, the influences, more or less, will directly affect how "in touch" or "out of touch" the subject matter will be with the larger "reality."

I believe one can apply this formula to virtually anything, such as a governing philosophy.

Brad, the Sahuaro will be here long after the current Hohokam tribe.

Maybe not, Cal. The saguaro is a product of the world's wettest desert. If climate change affects rainfall negatively and humans keep pumping out the groundwater, the Sonoran Desert could come to resemble the Mojave or the Chihuahuan.

U just named two more of my favorite landscapes.

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