City Council will vote on a 30-day waiting period for historic building demolitions

Demolition of historic buildings may soon require a 30-day waiting period to prevent unwanted destruction to Phoenix landmarks. (Emily Mudge/DD)
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Demolition of historic buildings may soon require a 30-day waiting period to prevent unwanted destruction to Phoenix landmarks.

The Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend the waiting period to be approved by City Council. The new rule would be applied to commercial buildings 50 years or older and all properties identified as eligible for historic designation.

The Development Advisory Board and the Historic Preservation Commission previously recommended approval. It stemmed from the historic preservation community’s concerns that historic buildings would be destroyed before other options were explored.

Proposed alternative options to demolition included moving properties, rehabilitation, adaptive reuse or selling the building. The Wurth House was mentioned as an example of a successful alternative which was successfully moved and saved.

RELATED: Petition for demolition waiting period faces uncertain legal future

It is expected to affect 300 buildings out of the 1,500 which apply for permits each year. The additional processing would include a $300 fee, and there was a request for one new planner position to help implement this process.

“I think this is a win-win in that the developers now know in a pre-ap what they’re facing in a piece of property or a building and if they’re wanting to pursue it or not and I think that’s really the most important piece of this whole process,” District 4 Councilwoman Laura Pastor said.

District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski said he wants the city to provide incentives for developers preserving historical landmarks in Phoenix.

RELATED: Concerns voiced after Circles building was partially demolished

The issue of demolition of historic properties has been relevant to historic preservations and community members alike.

Following an ordinance passed in Los Angeles, which required at least 30 days of written and posted notice prior to demolition of historic buildings 45 years or older, Stacey Champion, a local activist and head of Champion PR, began to hold community discussions on what tools and steps could be taken to prevent the demolition of historic properties.

“I’m excited. I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” Champion said. “I’m happy that it’s 30 days. I’m happy that it’s good public signage — I think that was a good important piece of it. Hopefully it can prevent what happened numerous times from happening in the future.”

One such instance happened just after the controversial partial demolition of the Circles Records building, and the same day the Historic Preservation Commission discussed ways incidents like the demolition of the Circles building could be prevented in the future.

Champion spearheaded a petition based on the Los Angeles ordinance requesting a 30-day hold on historic properties 45 years or older prior to demolition.

Contact the reporter at kara.carlson@asu.edu.

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