The Next Phoenix Mayor Needs to be a Visionary

As we evaluate the plethora of Phoenix mayoral candidates one must consider past performance as insight into future. Today we’ll look at our current council and Mayor’s visionary skills with regard to the demolition of a downtown landmark to make way for something terribly important… another parking lot.

ramada-inn-courtyardThe demolition of the Ramada Inn, once Sahara, caught the eye of many downtown historic preservationists. Numerous articles were written by true visionaries including Yuri Artibise, Steve Weiss and Seth Anderson. Strong arguments were raised about the importance of the hotel, a fine example of mid-century architecture.

Despite hundreds of citizens calling for the protection and revitalization of a historic property, our city council voted unanimously to tear it down. What is most surprising to me is that at the very same time, ASU was speaking out about the immediate need for more student housing.

Maybe I am really dimwitted, but when you have a hotel with rooms, kitchens, conference areas and parking perfectly situated to provide student housing,  I think rehab the building? Some would say it costs too much… I know because this is what they actually said. However, the costs of ground up commercial construction would/will far exceed renovation costs. If this wasn’t the case, then why did an investor try to lease the property from the City to create a boutique hotel? Here is what happened…

Months ago The Downtown Voices Coalition brought a developer to our Mayor Mr. Phil, who wanted to lease the property back from the City and give our downtown a hip hotel, and come up with solutions for the Sheraton’s Parking “crisis” and new locations for the Law School.  He swiftly declined the offer and then tore down the two smaller side buildings three days later.  Apparently Mr. Mayor is more concerned about giving our downtown this very very important parking lot immediately, versus giving the DVC any time to create a win-win situation for all and actually fill up an ADDITIONAL extra empty lot downtown.

I could go on and on about a historical property razed to make way for a parking lot. Hell, they did it to the Fox Theater so we should be used to really stupid policy when it come to things like heritage, the past, wrongs that can’t be righted and the rush to do something even if it is wrong.

The question I pose today is: What are we going to do about it? Perhaps vetting our next mayor and future council members would be a start. Certainly anyone who voted to approve the demolition of the Ramada Inn without seriously considering the options should be on our list of “NO WAY CANDIDATES.” We already know the stripes of these tigers and a lack of vision is a part of their collective DNA.

If you would like to know whom I am speaking, simply look at the candidates for Mayor of Phoenix; if he or she is a current councilperson, they are on my “No Way” list. How about yours?

Vote Often and Vote Smart…

Gene Urban
The Urban Team
Realty Executives

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