Phoenix Trolley Museum looks into new locations in downtown Phoenix, Glendale

The Phoenix Trolley Museum board of directors, museum members and the public discussed new permanent locations for the museum at a public meeting. (Craig Johnson/DD)

After the Margaret T. Hance Park redesign did not renew the Phoenix Trolley Museum’s lease, the museum has identified several potential new locations.

At the last public meeting scheduled by the Phoenix Trolley Museum board of directors, museum members and the public discussed new permanent locations for the museum.

Most of the new locations are concentrated near downtown Phoenix. Looking for a new home presents the Phoenix Trolley Museum with new opportunities, but also poses questions about its identity.

“Do we want to just focus on streetcars, or include the context they were used in and the history of streetcars and downtown Phoenix?” said Robert Graham, who is charing the Phoenix Trolley Museum relocation.

One of the closest locations is an empty lot at 1117 Grand Ave., owned by the owner of DeSoto Central Market in Phoenix. The space had lots of potential, Graham said.

The lot has a historic house located on the property, which attendees said could be used as additional museum or retail space. And while little to no space on site to run a trolley car, there is plenty of room in the neighboring alley and local streets, something Graham said was a requirement for the new location.

Another possible location is in the Warehouse District at an unused railroad spur owned by Michael Levine. Graham said Levine called him a few days before the meeting and seemed excited about the museum moving to his location. The best part of the location is the potential several hundred feet where track could be laid, but Graham said there would be almost no space to put a barn or museum area, so the museum would have to separate the storage locations and track.

A third possible location listed is the Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park on the border of Glendale and North Phoenix, suggested by Tom Amrhein, a Phoenix Trolley Museum member. The Adobe Mountain Museum has similar content to the Phoenix Trolley Museum.

The monthly rent would be split between the two museums. The land cost would be cheaper, but the museum would have to build all new facilities. And moving so far outside of downtown Phoenix would substantially change the museum’s vision.

“We need to keep the context of where the cars operated in order to preserve the vision,” said Doug Kupel, a meeting attendee.

Michelle Dodds, city of Phoenix historic preservation officer, said the museum’s lease was extended a year past its intended expiration date in September 2016, giving the museum until September 2017 to find a new location.

RELATED: Phoenix Trolley Museum looks for new home after 40 years in Hance Park

Attendees also brought up the importance of finding a temporary location for the museum.

The museum should be prepared for the move to not happen all at once, Kupel said. It should be a minimum requirement for the museum to find a temporary location as it moves forward, Amrhein added.

“I just can’t see one move happening and the museum getting everything we want,” Amrhein said.

Graham said a problem with finding something temporary is the city’s deadline has given the museum focus in finding a new location. Establishing an interim location may unnecessarily interrupt the process of finding a permanent one.

At the end of the meeting, Graham created two volunteer groups, one to look for short-term locations and the other to look for long-term.

Other possible locations discussed include an empty space near the light rail stop at 44th and Washington streets, the Arizona State Fairgrounds and University Park at Tenth Avenue and Van Buren streets. The museum is still open to other options.

Contact the reporter at sshblaylock@gmail.com

Correction: May 5, 2016:

A previous version of this story incorrectly titled Robert Graham as the president of the Phoenix Trolley Museum board. It has been updated to be more accurately summarize his position.

The previous version also stated there was no room in the potential Grand Avenue location to run a street car. There is room, just not directly on site.

The story also stated there was several hundred feet of track at the potential Warehouse District location. There is no track there currently, and it would have to be laid down.

The earlier version also incorrectly stated the name of the Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park. It has been updated to reflect the correct title. It was also clarified that the park is on the border of Glendale and north Phoenix.

The story also stated that costs would be lower overall for the Phoenix Trolley Museum at the potential Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park location. While the land cost is lower, but the museum would have to build all the facilities.

Language in the story has been changed to make it clear the Phoenix Trolley Museum is still identifying potential new locations.