Phoenix is about to lose another historic gem. It is a story we have heard dozens, if not hundreds of times before. This time however, the antagonist isn’t a greedy developer or out-of-state company, but our very own city government and state university.
As a former ASU employee, I have long known about ASU’s take no prisoners approach to expansion that over ruled any stated interests in sustainability or community engagement. I had hopes that the new city management and the City’s stated commitment to a vibrant downtown were more the mere window dressing. I was wrong.
Together ASU and the City of Phoenix are about to do something that would make even the most Machiavellian developer blush – raze a historic hotel in the middle of our city, and replace it with a parking lot. For more information on the back-story, and the history (and potential) of the site, please read this passionate post by my friend Rachel Dawn Luptak. For a more concise overview, check out this post that Seth Anderson managed to sneak by the typically boosterish editors at DowntownPhoenix.com
Like Seth, I may have been sympathetic if it was to replace it with a vibrant new project, but no, in their infinite wisdom, ASU and the City of Phoenix have decided that what downtown needs is yet another parking lot. Sure, there are long-term plans to build a law school on the site, but there are no firm plans. Downtown is already littered with empty lots, razed to make way for well intended yet never realized projects. Why not use one of them instead?
Also, what is wrong with encouraging multimodal transportation such as light rail? There is a station less than a block away that to service the ASU downtown campus. this system connected to hundreds of park & ride spaces, where people can park for free and ride into downtown for cheaper that a downtown parking spot.
ASU is supposed to be committed to sustainability. They boast about the LEED certifications awarded to the new nursing and journalism buildings, yet want to destroy a landmark hotel for a parking lot. Surely with all the supposed sustainability expertise they have amassed they would have learned that the greenest building is the one already built.
The City of Phoenix has listed ‘Dense City Core as one of it’s visions for their General Plan Update. Why then are they allowing the demolition of an existing building when there are already plenty of empty lots in the immediate vicinity? Are they really that siloed in their thinking?
What Can We Do?
While the City is telling us that this project is a done deal, I’m not giving up hope. I’ll join the fight to get the city and ASU to reverse this asinine decision. It may be late in the process, but until the wrecking ball dislodges the first brick, there is still hope. Please join me:
- Start by leaving your ideas for adaptive reuses for this building. The most effective opposition contain reasonable alternatives. Lets give them some.
- Write letters or emails letters expressing you opposition to the proposed demolition to Mayor Gordon and City Council members. Also let the ASU administration know of your displeasure, particularly President Michael Crow and ASU Downtown Vice President, Dean Debra Freidman.
- Attend this Saturday’s (March 13th) meeting of the Downtown Voices Coalition, where there will be a discussion on strategies to reverse City Council and ASU’s decision and keep the building for more creative uses. The meeting runs from 9:30-11:30 at the 9:30 a.m. at the Roosevelt Commons meeting room, 825 N. 6th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003.
- Stay tuned to this blog. I will keep you posted of further developments and opportunities to engage.
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