Leveled?

Proposals on their way to the Phoenix City Council could put the historic warehouse district in jeopardy

Without outside funding for rehabbing warehouses, and considering the price of raw land for new condo developments, what would protect warehouses from the wrecking ball?

The Urban Form Project, introduced last July, was supposed to help the Warehouse District and seven other central Phoenix districts with improved zoning and design guidelines that would foster shade, pedestrian-friendly streets, and distinctive neighborhoods. The project would've addressed specific downtown revitalization issues through a series of public hearings that were scheduled to continue through 2007.

But according to Dean Brennan, principal planner for the city's planning department and project manager for Urban Form, the project has been on hiatus for almost two months, since Proposition 207 passed and raised legal questions. (The proposition makes the city vulnerable to lawsuits by property owners who could claim that new zoning adversely impacts their property values.) The project also needs more funding before consultants Dyett and Bhatia can progress to the next phase. The city council vote on the funding is scheduled for February 14.

Bill Scheel, from the mayor's office, says that the zoning changes won't solve all of the area's problems. "This will not be the savior for the warehouse District in one fell swoop — it's really gonna be block-by-block efforts, and it will rely on property owners to understand that there is value in those warehouses," he says.

As for Levine, he sees the proposals as the last gasp of the Warehouse District, a sign that the city is caving to the pressures of developers.

"Basically, my bet is that these guys figured that I was such a tree-hugger historic-preservation fag that I would never tear down my buildings," he says. "But you know what? If my land is sitting there, and it's the difference between 10, 20, or 30 million dollars, I'll take those buildings down. I'll take 'em to another country and I'll rebuild them there, brick by brick."

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2 comments
Its ME again!
Its ME again!

I constantly see comments in stories like this about save this and save that and one would ge the impression that there are people out there who are into preserving these types of buildings. And there are. And these same people always seem to be under some misguided perception that the City of Phoenix agrees with their preservation minded attitudes. NOT SO! The City of Phoenix has no real interest in doing anything other than making money. Period. And if that means tearing down ninety year old buildings to do it, then believe me, the city is all for it! Personally, I think its a travesty to tear down such structures, but my personal believes, as well as anyone elses' bear no resemblence to the reality of the situation(s). In time the City of Phoenix will once again prove its ignorance and incompetence in the name of the almighty dollar. I see vacant lot after vacant lot in downtown and I just don't get it. WHY on earth would the City approve the demolition of such properties, let alone approve half of the inappropriate construction thats already been taking place downtown. Obviously no one with the city of Phoenix planning commission or zoning office has ANY taste whatsoever. They probably all live in tract homes in PV anyway. You can't expect anyone of those people to really care about something that they have no real connection to. Typical Phoenix. Tear it all down !!

Will Novak
Will Novak

There are empty surface lots all over the warehouse district, I don't understand the need to knock down historic warehouses when their is plenty of empty lots available.

 
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