Ben Bethel's Embassy Penthouse Commune

Photo by Claire Lawton
Ben Bethel (right) with John Werkema (center) and Daniel Bryant (left) on the wrap-around patio of their penthouse. See more shots in our slideshow.
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.


Ben Bethel

graduated from University of Arizona in computer programming, he headed north and sold his computer to pay the deposit on a condo at Fourth Avenue and McKinley Street in downtown Phoenix.

Almost twenty years later, he's moved up in the building and currently lives in one of the penthouses. He laughs, but is definitely serious, when he calls his place the Embassy Commune -- the 4,300-square-foot space has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a theater and "eight-or-so" roommates, "depending on who's dating who," Bethel says.

When he's not running around the Clarendon Hotel, which he bought in 2004, he's on the 1,600-square-foot balcony, usually with a few of roommates, taking in the view.

From the balcony, he says he's seen the city grow and change. He points out the new satellite that was just installed on one of the buildings on Central Avenue and says how cool it is to see the transistors blow up whenever a dust storm rolls across the city.

Inside, the style is "temporary eclectic," Bethel says, because each roommate has brought his or her own pieces of art and furniture that decorate the walls and floors.

Bethel has plans to completely renovate the place -- reflooring, painting, and replacing the astroturf on the balcony -- but says he's waiting for his hotel business and the economy pick up.

He says he and his roommates used to throw big parties, but they admit to settling down and living more low-key lifestyles. That, and Bethel's moved most of his parties to the Clarendon.

The "commune" doesn't have any official rules (other than not touching the last beer) and while Bethel has seen his roommates come and go, there's usually one constant: "everyone gets along -- we're white, black, Hispanic, straight, gay, single, coupled ... everything except Republican."

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.