Clinton Campbell house to be demolished

The Clinton Campbell house has been the center of controversy and debate for almost two years. (Nicholas Serpa/DD)

The Clinton Campbell house is slated for demolition following a historic preservation hearing at city hall on Tuesday.

The owners of the building, Glasir Capital Partners LLC., argued they would suffer an unnecessary economic hardship if they had to preserve the building, ending a nearly two-year process to decide its fate.

The house was built by Clinton Campbell, a prominent carpenter and builder in Phoenix in the early 1900s. The owners of the more than 120-year-old house, which is located at 357 North Fourth Avenue, argued that historic preservation of the building would be a financial burden. They needed to prove this in order to demolish the building. The building is one of 50 buildings its age still left in Phoenix.

Adam Baugh, legal counsel for the owners, filed a demolition permit in August of 2015 prior to purchasing the property to check if there would be any prevention because of its historic nature. Baugh said there were none and Glasir refiled for a demolition permit with the intention to actually demolish the building in March.

Following a 30-day-hold on the demolition permit the Historic Preservation Commission initiated a historic overlay in April. This normally begins the process of a building gaining historic recognition and zoning from the city of Phoenix. The decision prevented any demolition or construction that would change the historic nature of the building’s exterior from occurring during the overlay process.

Glasir bought the land in 2015 for $750,000. The purchased land included the lot the house is on and two vacant lots, one to the north and one to the south. The same report estimated the cost of rehabilitating the building would be between $350 to $450 per square foot, an estimate historic preservation staff member Kevin Weight thought was on the high side of what rehabilitation normally costs.

Weight said adding building acquisition costs to the cost of rehabilitation would come out to a minimum of $560,400. This would be roughly $200,000 more than what the home would be worth once rehabilitated.

The report cited an inspection by Tim McCormac of Temac Development Inc. which said the house is in poor condition and would require significant repair. The report said the house is fire damaged and has considerable structural damage, including a hole in the wall of the southwest corner of the house.

Jim Stockwell, a representative of the owners, said a voice in the downtown historic preservation community agreed the best move would be to demolish the building. He said the member requested to keep his name anonymous.

Weight said some members of the commission voted to initiate the historic overlay because they wanted to extend the process while others truly did want to preserve it. He said the building’s poor condition outweighed its value as a historic Phoenix home.

“We knew it was in bad condition, but really the basis for historic designation isn’t condition, its more historic integrity,” Weight said. “But historic integrity is different from condition, it’s got good integrity but poor condition.”

Stockwell said they had looked into trying to move the house to another space, a method sometimes used to preserve historic properties, but that logistics and cost would be too economically costly as well.

“Even if you did all this and spent all this money and got it to a position where it was able to be moved I don’t know that it could be moved because of the height,” Stockwell said. “And then where it would have to be moved to would limit the number of sites available.”

Weight said because there are no funds left from the 2006 historic preservation bond, the city did not have any financial resources to help with preservation of the building. State funding for such projects was swept away years ago and costs associated with pursuing national historic tax credits would outweigh the benefits, according to Weight.

There is a five-day period during which members of the public can appeal the outcome of the hearing which ends on June 5.

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