Monday, December 19, 2005

Tucson building may be torn down following finding it's not historic

[Source: Associated Press] -- A building that some people thought might be slated for preservation may be torn down after all. A city report has determined it wasn't historic, as some people had believed. The report by architect Bob Vint found that because of substantial renovations in the 1950s and 1960s, the 90-year-old former bank building had "lost the integrity of its historic design, setting, materials, workmanship, and feeling, and is therefore unable to convey its historic significance."

"It's not even a shadow of its former self," Vint said in an interview with the Arizona Daily Star. Marty McCune, the city's historic preservation officer, said she agreed with the report's assessment of the building, and said the Bank One annex can be demolished because it is not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Some considered the building's restoration a trade-off for the 115-year-old Pusch Building, which was torn down in 2004 to make way for a $23 million condo development by Bourn Partners and the Fina Companies. Downtown lawyer Roy Martin, who led the charge against demolishing the Pusch building, said he was told by city officials that the Bank One building was historic and worth saving, and there was no way it would be torn down. "It's outrageous," Martin said. "We were promised that under no circumstances would the Bank One annex not be preserved."

At the time, Assistant City Manager Karen Thoreson also said the city was working with developers to include the annex in a new condominium project because there was a spectacular historic structure under the facade put on the building in the 1950s. The Pusch building's demolition outraged those who felt it should have been saved and incorporated into the condo project.

The project's developers said in June 2004 that they would do everything they could to preserve it, but the building was reduced to rubble by that September. The bank annex was also included in Bourn's condo project when it was approved. Now it, too, will be torn down if the developers use the land in the condo project, said Paul Schloss, a principal with Bourn Partners. He said the company has not decided whether to use the property in the condo project. [Photo source: Bob Vint.]