As the process of tearing down the former Ramada Inn begins, some Phoenicians are concerned with the future of the lot.
A public zoning hearing is taking place Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the future of the property across the street from Taylor Place. At the hearing citizens will talk about rezoning the lot to put in a temporary parking lot for the Sheraton Hotel, however many are not happy with this plan.
The Downtown Voices Coalition does not agree with making the site a parking lot. According to the DVC website, a “developer members finds it difficult to convince people to bring new projects to the downtown, especially when driving them through large swaths of empty, unused land and rows of parking lots.”
The DVC said investors are skeptical of a city’s progressiveness when it invests more money and effort on “land banking and demolition than creative and adaptive development,” said the website.
Sean Sweat, a Downtown Phoenix urbanist who is also a member of the DVC, has been campaigning to turn the lot into a green space.
“I don’t think their needs to be any benches or fancy things,” Sweat said, “just a space with grass will make the city and space much more attractive and bring around more people.”
Sweat, who received a graduate degree in public transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the parking lot shields pedestrianism because people would rather not walk by a parking lot.
“Once you make it too easy for more cars to come by that area, pedestrianism drops,” Sweat said.
Sweat, also a downtown Phoenix resident, is concerned that his property value will go down if a parking lot is put in that space.
“What differentiates this city from a city like Chandler or Tempe is the walk-ability, and people don’t want to walk by a parking lot,” Sweat said.
Journalism sophomore Amy Vogelsang said the Downtown campus would benefit from having another park nearby.
“If somebody put a park in that space that would be great,” Vogelsang said. “I like sports and it would just be nice to have that green space to play or study. I know other colleges have that space, so it would be nice if we had more of it.”
ASU does not have the economic means to support another green space after recently building the Civic Space, according to Deputy City Manager Rick Naimark.
ASU had the opportunity to buy the property at a very reasonable price, so they had to act on the opportunity, Naimark said.
By putting up a temporary parking lot for the Sheraton to use, ASU is making a business decision, Naimark said. Instead of their just being a dirt lot, ASU would rent out the space temporarily for the use of the Sheraton’s money wisely.
“Tearing down the building is ensuring future viability of the ASU campus, but in the interim, a parking lot will help fund this space,” Naimark said.
Naimark added that ASU needed a site for expansion, but the hotel was not the right type of building to preserve for that. It had mold and the layout was not suitable for a university setting.
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org