Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monti’s owner scraps plan for towers

[Source: Garin Groff, Tribune] -- The owner of Monti’s La Casa Vieja has scrapped plans to build a 300-foot-tall tower directly above the historic adobe restaurant after a barrage of criticism from preservationists. Michael Monti still is planning for two towers to rise on his downtown Tempe property, but he has agreed to move one of them. Monti’s new plan comes weeks after the city’s Historic Preservation Commission objected to the idea of putting a 25-story building over the Valley’s oldest structure, built in 1871. Historic preservationists argued the building’s history would be overshadowed by a glass-and-steel tower. And the original plan likely would get the building kicked off a state and a national historic register, the state’s historic preservation officer has said.

While Monti argued he was preserving the interior, he and developer 3W Companies accommodated the historic commission’s request to move the new building. “It’s as important in the restaurant business, like politics, to have as high an approval as possible,” said Jason Rose, a spokesman for Monti. The new plan will likely get a good reception now, said Bob Gasser, chairman of Tempe’s historic commission. The group will hear the new proposal Thursday. “Even some of the strongest voices, I think, will be pleased with this,” Gasser said. If the group signs off on the plan, the towers face another source of opposition: The City of Phoenix. The buildings are about 80 feet too tall given their place in the flight path, Phoenix aviation director Danny Murphy told Tempe officials in a letter. The buildings could pose a risk to planes departing from Sky Harbor International Airport in the rare event that an airliner lost one engine during takeoff. To clear the building safely, Phoenix says the building shouldn’t exceed 220 feet.

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