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Commission votes in favor of Wright designation Written by Sepeedeh Hashemian 10/11/2012

The Phoenix Planning Commission voted 7-1 to recommend approval on the historic preservation designation on the David and Gladys Wright house in Arcadia.

Tuesday’s meeting was the third in a process to grant the house historic landmark designation, which would put a three-year hold on demolition.

The National Park Service said the circular house is one of 56 Wright buildings eligible for national historic landmark designation, said Kevin Weight of the city’s Historic Preservation Office. Commission Chairman Thomas Awai said before the vote that commissioners would be considering whether the house should be deemed fit for historic preservation overlay, and not on the legal implications of the process.

The Phoenix City Council chambers were filled with people of all ages on Tuesday sharing anecdotes and sentiments about the 1950s-built house. There were 68 public comment cards turned in, 49 in favor who didn’t wanted to speak, 16 in favor who wanted to speak and 3 opposed who wanted to speak.

Preservationist and Realtor of architecturally unique homes Scott Jarson said more than 2,500 attendees recently attended a open house at the site on 5212 E. Exeter Blvd. in just two days.

“Great cities cherish their past, and we cannot let Phoenix be remembered as the city that let this home be demolished,” he said. “So let us instead be celebrated for the community that saved it.”

Unlike at the Camelback East Village Planning Committee meeting, where the current owners were represented by attorney Chris Kramer, owner Steve Sells spoke on behalf of his business


Commission votes in favor of Wright designation Written by Sepeedeh Hashemian 10/11/2012

partner John Hoffman and himself.

Sells said he was not aware of the home’s significance when he bought it. He said he wasn’t told about the historic preservation overlay process being filed, and if he had been he wouldn’t have gone through with buying the house.

“If I would have known today the passion that exists in this room, and rightfully so, I certainly wouldn’t have done it and I would have moved on to another deal and done something else,” Sells said.

There have been four offers on the house, but none have been valid, Sells said.

While the majority of the commission voted to recommend approval, commission member Dwight Amery opposed the designation.

“Nothing started on historic preservation until the city had already approved the lot split on this property,” Amery said. “I think now it is up to the new owners to do what they choose, not us.”

Council members Andrea Katsenes and Nicole Davis voted for approval, but had reservations.

“I hope that with the passion we are hearing tonight from all of you and the family that we can come to a good resolution for our community,” Katsenes said. “It’s with an extreme heavy heart because I am really conflicted that I support the landmark designation.”