Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maricopa County continues to demolish buildings in Phoenix's warehouse district

[Source: David Therrien] -- As I write, demolition crews are working on the old church at 9th Ave & Madison (NE corner), across the street from the Arizona Testing Laboratories art space. This church dates back to 1911 according to SHPO. It is one of few old-old buildings left in the west warehouse district. As far as I know, SHPO reviewed the building a few years ago, but deemed it insignificant. It used to be part of the old St. Vincent de Paul complex, which has some nice 40's and 50's warehouses as well -- ideal for artists' studios/galleries/cafes. I have no idea what Maricopa county plans to put in its place - most likely an empty lot.

The county has applied for permits to demolish other buildings on the block -- 802 & 806 W. Madison (including the old Gallery X building), but conveniently missed applying for this one, perhaps to avoid a review by the city's historic preservation office (although they don't ever seem to stop any historic demolitions downtown). This block of buildings, along with my block on the south side of the street, make up the only small scale storefront/warehouse block left in the downtown (buildings built out to the property line). It wouldn't be unique in any other city, but it is in Phoenix -- a small downtown street fully built out from one end of the block to the other. It has been turning around the last few years -- going from the worst street in the city (see the NT article about Madison Street) to a workable artists neighborhood, with three galleries, studios, and soon a new cafe.

The county is continuing its campaign of suburban sprawl in the downtown, building low rise buildings and giant (empty) parking garages with taxpayer money, tearing down the existing historic structures (ironically, most owned or occupied by artists). Vacant lots now sit where vibrant art studios and galleries once thrived. They are paying NO attention to the downtown urban fabric and plan/design as if they were in a cornfield in Gilbert. Call city council members, county supervisors. Get them to stop and think, even if for just a moment.