First Friday

City Of Phoenix Orders HoodRide Tear Down Its Popular Tree House

The HoodRide treehouse.

The intersection of Fifth and Roosevelt Streets has become one of the hotspots for the downtown Phoenix arts district. And one of the coolest parts of this cluster of galleries, boutiques, and coffee places was the HoodRide treehouse.

Built into an olive tree in front of the sidewalk of the bicycle shop/art gallery run by Derrick Pacheco, the two-story construction of wood that was kind of a landmark for the Fifth Street scene.

But now the treehouse is a thing of the past, as city of Phoenix officials ordered Pacheco on Thursday to tear down the structure by this afternoon.

John R. Siefert, deputy director of the city's Street Transportation Division, stated in a letter to HoodRide's property owner that the structure was in violation of city ordinance 23-32 (which prohibits the "encroachment of trees, shrubs, or bushes") and ordered it to be torn down within 24 hours.

"This structure presents a considerable safety hazard to the public and exposes you to potential liability," wrote Siefert.

The structure last constructed last summer by Pacheco and his friends and fellow artists, who used wood and materials left over from the demolished HOUSE Studios over on Fourth Street. Every month the treehouse hosted DJ Jon Dread spinning old-school hip-hop and reggae tracks on the second floor, while various artists hawked their wares down below.

Pacheco was understandably upset at the order, although he complied fully with what it specified. The structure was carefully disasembled by the artist and several friends, with an eye towards possibly rebuilding it somewhere else on the property sometime in the future.

"It's kinda like bullshit," Pacheco says. "It was an otherwise wasted space. We could've worked with the city to get the necessary permits, but they didn't want to help us."

Phoenix New Times was unable to reach Siefert for comment on the matter.

The artist says the treehouse was beneficial to the neighborhood, both as a cool landmark and as a lookout for fighting crime. Pacheco claims his friends have foiled several bicycle theives by spotting them from the top floor of the treehouse. -- Benjamin Leatherman