Building Down

Warehouse-district defenders retrench as two structures come down

Some warehouse-district advocates also question the motives of Jerry Colangelo and the quasi-governmental agency, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. The partnership has staunchly promoted new development downtown, especially Colangelo's.

At a recent meeting of the Jackson Street Advisory Committee -- a group appointed by mayor Skip Rimsza to study the jail site issue -- Downtown Phoenix Partnership executive director Brian Kearney voted against a motion by Phil Gordon to relocate the jail site several miles to the southwest, on Durango Street, where the county currently has significant jail facilities.

Kearney says the partnership has never taken a formal vote on the jail issue, but informally chose to support the county's proposed site. He's careful, however, to strike a conciliatory tone.

"With regard to the additional developments that they are proposing, we are very interested in working with the county and the city to make sure that what they build is consistent with the warehouse district."

Hestenes feels betrayed by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, saying that when Bank One Ballpark was approved, residents were assured that the warehouse district would maintain a balance between arts and sports.

"[Colangelo] will tell people he doesn't see it [warehouse demolitions] as good, but then his representatives and his groups vote yes. It's been very manipulative, and I think it's payback because the county helped push through his ballpark and now he's helping them with their jail project."

Colangelo was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

With the Borden block decimated, warehouse-district advocates are now reexamining their strategy. One plan under consideration is to push for an initiative that would require the county to dedicate the land for a park, or some other art-related use.

"The battle is not over at all," Irwin says. "The county may believe that because they tore down the Borden block, we're going to sit back and say, 'We have nothing to fight for now.' What they don't understand is that it's a whole concept. We can always make modifications to what our vision is."

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: ggarcia@newtimes.com

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