Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Owner: Tower above Tempe's Monti’s Restaurant only answer

[Source: Garin Groff, Tribune] -- The owner of Monti’s La Casa Vieja says the only way to save the historic adobe building is to build a 300-foot glass and steel building above it. The building — the oldest in the Valley — would remain largely untouched. But concrete columns would sit in front of it to support the mass of what’s above. Michael Monti’s proposal has generated support, opposition — and a passionate debate over just what is historic and how to ensure future generations can experience what is often considered the Valley’s most important historic structure.

[Update: The developer will return to the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission with revised plans on November 1, 2007, starting at 6 p.m. at Hatton Hall/Gov. Moeur House, 34 E. 6th St. You are welcome to attend to voice your opinion.]

Historic preservation advocates are largely siding against Monti’s plan, saying the new structure would swallow the low-slung building constructed in 1873. “It somewhat hides it,” said Bob Gasser, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The plan isn’t an honest attempt to save the home built in 1871 by Tempe founder Charles Trumbull Hayden, said Ann Patterson, a commission member. She blasted it as “window dressing.” Though Monti said his plan will leave the inside untouched, changing the building’s setting could get the adobe structure kicked off state and national historic registries, said Jim Garrison, the state’s historic preservation officer.

The city’s historic commission opposes the high-rise above the historic building, insisting that Monti’s should stand out and the new high-rise should serve as a backdrop. So far, though. Monti has scoffed at the idea of keeping the existing building so visible. “Nobody ever said, ‘I had a great time leaning up against your stucco wall,’ ” Monti said. The real historic value of the building is its rooms, he said. Hayden built it room by room, and generations of people experienced the building by the flow of the rooms.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Monti's.]