1.  The City used funds from the Downtown Phoenix Hotel Corporation to buy the Sahara building.  Apparently part of this deal was the temporary use of the site as a parking lot for the Sheraton Hotel.  This is the “done deal” City Manager David Cavazos was talking about.

2.  When several community members suggested the lot become a park or a green space, Jeremy Legg, the City applicant for the parking use permit, mentioned the Civic Space Park is just a block away.  Wait, so we can have TOO MANY green spaces, but never enough parking lots?

3.  The resulting parking lot is not currently planned to be open to the public.  It is planned to be used by the Sheraton and other surrounding businesses.

4.  Although the City did not require any parking due to the new Downtown Code, there is a parking garage for the Sheraton that parks 500 cars.

5.  This parking lot at the Sahara will serve as overflow parking for when the Sheraton has events.  I’m glad the Sheraton is attracting so many people Downtown.  But we need to encourage people to take the Light Rail to the Sheraton and stop enabling people’s addiction to their cars.

6.  The use permit was granted for the next 5 years!  5 years is a long time in this continuously changing economic landscape.  We’re going to have to live with this scab of asphalt in the heart of our city for another 5 years.

7.  Jeremy Legg and his engineer said they are planting more trees on this parking lot than are required by the City.  Whereas the City requires 5% shade coverage, they’ll be providing a whopping 7%.  And this is relatively a good thing as opposed to a parking lot with very few trees.  But let’s not confuse the matter.  This is still an asphalt parking lot with trees.  It’s like creating a physical wound in our city and hoping a little makeup will fix it.

8.  Phoenix Community Alliance, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, ASU and of course the Sheraton all signed letters of support for demolishing the Sahara and paving this parking lot.

9.  The State Historic Preservation Office declared that the Sahara does not have enough historic value to warrant preservation, an assessment that is refuted by many who recognize the value of mid-century modern buildings. (A clarification:  The SHPO said the Sahara did not qualify to get on the National Historic Register, Jeremy Legg used this statement to imply this building was not worth saving).

10.  The City made a deal with the Downtown Phoenix Hotel Corporation on a publicly-owned lot and put the Corporation’s interests above the interest of its constituents.  I realize that the logistical nightmare of maintaining the Sahara was overwhelming to the City.  But this behind-closed-doors deal with the Hotel Corporation that was done before residents could ever get involved undermines my trust in the City Government as a representative of the people of Phoenix.  It’s more a lackey to the Corporations of Phoenix.

To read another reaction to yesterday’s hearing, check out Seth Anderson’s post The City of Phoenix and ASU Demolish More Phoenix History

Photo Credit:  The bulldozer on site yesterday at the Sahara.  Photo by the author.

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11 Responses

  1. Welcome to downtown Phoenix, just another errant suburb in this sprawling metropolis…

  2. Sadly there are many creatives in Phoenix that think that the Phoenix Community Alliance, Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Arizona State University are on their side.

    When will they wake up and realize that the land developers still control these groups and the City of Phoenix? Every step forward is followed by three backwards.

    People need to stop cheerleading and start kicking some ass. Why the fuck is this behavior tolerated? Make these groups be accountable for their actions.

    Kudos for writing this article and starting to stand up for creatives in Phoenix. I hope that others will stand with you.

    • Taz Loomans says:

      Thanks Derek, there’s a few of us that are fed up and will start holding our city officials accountable. It’s our own neglect and looking the other way as residents that has brought the parking lots and the empty promises. No more, we have to speak out and get involved in the process.

  3. Eric Vondy/SHPO says:

    I want to correct the wording for #9.
    We did not say that the Sahara was not worthy of preservation. SHPO found that the it was not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to the many alterations including the stuccoed exterior and the changed windows.

    If it had been found eligible nothing would have changed other than ASU would have to document the property before it could be destroyed. Listing it on the National Register would offer it no more protection than it has right now.

  4. Taz Loomans says:

    Eric, thanks for your clarification. It was not put that way at the hearing, what Jeremy Legg said was closer to the way I have written it. I’ll make an addendum to that point to reflect your comment.

  5. J Seth Anderson says:

    Great post, especially point #10.

    The city is using public money to the benefit of private entities that do not in anyway benefit the public.

    Thankfully we have the Internet and we can communicate and organize better than ever before. It’s really the only glimmer of hope I have.

    • Taz Loomans says:

      agreed Seth, the internet gives us a voice we never had before. we’re not powerful, or wealthy or have connections with those who are. but through blogging, facebook, twitter and other tools, we have a voice too and i’m glad to be raising my voice alongside you!

  6. One more thing…the Downtown Devil (a journalism student-run blog for stuff in the Downtown Phoenix campus) weighs in on this. They seem to take ASU’s/Phoenix’s side. I’ve chimed in but some of your perspective advocating for reuse and no parking lots!


  7. Pedro Silva says:

    My is Pedro Silva and I am a student at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.

    I’m all for the razing of this decrepit hotel but believe that instead of placing a parking lot for private use there, the city should place a green space for recreational purposes. While a parking lot will bring in more revenue for the city and the tentative construction of the College of Law, students at the downtown campus need more gathering spaces to truly make it an urban campus. Tennis and basketball courts as well as shaded walkways would truly bring students together.

    I hope the city reconsiders this but realize it may be too late.

    • Taz Loomans says:

      Pedro, thanks for your input…I think it is too late about the parking lot, but don’t think your voice is going unheard. We need people like you to get involved and speak up for what you believe in so next time the City decides to put up a parking lot where people want a green space, they’ll think twice.

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