Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tempe gives OK for Monti’s towers

[Source: Garin Groff, East Valley Tribune] -- Tempe finally approved plans for three towers next to the historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja on Thursday. The City Council unanimously approved the 1.1-million-square-foot hotel and condo project following months of controversy and changes to the proposal at Thursday night’s meeting. Tony Wall of Scottsdale-based 3W Companies said he will first build a hotel along Mill Avenue while restoring the historic La Casa Vieja. He said he would later build two condo towers rising 257 feet.

The first version of the plan would have placed a 300-foot tower directly above the historic La Casa Vieja, which triggered preservationists to blast the plan. The adobe structure likely would have crumbled during construction, critics said, or at least be obscured by piers supporting the tower. Wall then backed the tower away from the adobe structure and won praise from former critics — though neighboring landowner US Airways called for a “good neighbor height” of 225 feet. Tempe’s elected officials had blasted the airline as a bully for refusing to agree to various concessions offered.

La Casa Vieja was built in 1871 by Tempe founder Charles Trumbull Hayden. The house also served as a general store, boarding house and community gathering place. It’s the Valley’s oldest continuously occupied building, often called the most significant historic structure in the metropolitan area.