Visual Arts

2 Roosevelt Row Properties Slated for Demolition; Petition Seeks Adaptive Reuse and Mural Preservation

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See also: Greeting Card Artist Ted DeGrazia's "Unseen" Murals on Roosevelt Street

Both 222 East Roosevelt Street and the adjacent property at 1002 North Third Street, once home to the Church of Scientology in Arizona, have been purchased by Colorado-based Baron Properties, which already owns several residential and industrial buildings in metro Phoenix.

The City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department's Site Plan Review Team granted preliminary approval after a review of the preliminary site plan (PRLM 1404282) for Baron's "Illuminate Apartments: A development located at 1002 North 3rd Street (Central City Village)" during its December 2, 2014 meeting at Phoenix City Hall. Citizens who want to see the plan can head to counter 6 on the second floor of Phoenix City Hall.

Baron Properties principal Justin Sims confirmed for us several days ago that they're planning "four levels of apartments." The ground level will have some units along Roosevelt Row, he explained, plus a fitness center and clubhouse. But he wouldn't share much more. On Tuesday afternoon, we viewed the recently approved plans and learned there will also be one level of underground parking. Current plans specify 111 dwelling units. They're required to have one parking space per unit, but the plan calls for a total of 145. The plan also includes 36 secured bike parking spaces, a leasing office and generous use of plant material along Third Street. Landscape design is by Logan Halperin Landscape Architecture of Phoenix.

The petition was published Thursday night, December 19, on the Change.org website under the name Pete Petrisko, but penned in collaboration with Robert Diehl and Connor Descheemaker. Diehl says he planted the seeds for a possible petition through social media for a couple of months, and found kindred spirits in Petrisko and Descheemaker. As of Tuesday evening December 23, they had collected more than 525 signatures.

Their goal is reflected in the petition's title: Save 222 E. Roosevelt & the Oldest Murals in PHX - with Adaptive reuse instead of Demolition. It's a familiar issue for Roosevelt Row and neighboring areas, which have seen the development of new residential complexes like Roosevelt Pointe in recent years. But the prospect of seeing several murals destroyed adds a new twist to the familiar adaptive reuse versus new construction debate.

We spoke with Jim McPherson, who told us while donning his "Arizona preservation hat" that he alerted several folks -- including Gail Brown with the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Bob Booker of Arizona Commission on the Arts, Rusty Foley of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, and Catrina Kahler with Artlink -- to the prospect of losing the 222 East Roosevelt building and its murals. Talk among yourselves, he told them. But it's the petitioners who were first out of the gate on making a public case for preserving the building and its mural art.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble