Community Impact of Phoenix Biomedical Campus Expansion

Javelina Partner Bill Scheel talks historic preservation and the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

Several buildings and houses marked by the passage of time lie in a barricaded cluster in two small blocks in the Evans Churchill community of downtown Phoenix. The buildings were some of the first in the neighborhood and now may be replaced with the newest expansion of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

Members of the Evans Churchill Community Association have expressed concern over this issue because of the value of the historic structures and the impact it could have on local businesses and community members.

A master plan for the Phoenix Biomedical Campus was adopted by the Phoenix City Council in 2007. A representative from the Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department said the plan is organized in developmental stages.

“This next phase of development has always been envisioned as part of this anticipated 20-year build-out of the 30-acre campus,” Cynthia Weaver, Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department spokeswoman, said in an email.

Cory Kincaid, President of the Board of Directors for the Artisan Village Condominium Association and Secretary of the Evans Churchill Community Association, said much of the Evans Churchill community respects the efforts of the Biomedical Campus and their research, but residents have reservations about what impact the campus’ expansion will have on the neighborhood and businesses in the area.

“I believe that the preservation of those buildings is important to help respect both the history and the culture of the neighborhood itself, and also to help ensure that there’s a character of the neighborhood,” Kincaid said.

He said it was the culture and history of the neighborhood that made him move to the neighborhood — which encompasses the area between McDowell Road, Fillmore Street, Central Avenue and Seventh street — in 2009.

The Historic Preservation Commission conducted a survey of the area in 1988, deeming it eligible for a historic district title, but many of the buildings were later demolished. In 2001, another survey was conducted, but there were not enough properties left to recommend a historic district title, said Bill Scheel, vice chair of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission.

Among the buildings that could be impacted is the Louis Emerson House, which is on the Phoenix Historic Register and has historic protection, Scheel said. Even though many of the other houses are not on the Historic Register, the properties may be reevaluated by the Historic Preservation Commission in the future to determine if they are eligible.

He said one of the options the community has considered is moving the houses entirely. Many of the houses that were in the city-owned property between Fifth and Sixth streets were moved about 10 years ago to the Roosevelt neighborhood.

“They would become part of the fabric of the neighborhood and become either a home or a business,” Scheel said.

Kincaid said the Evans Churchill community hopes to open a discussion with the Biomedical Campus about these buildings and work together to develop a plan. The community has already had successful collaborations with Biomedical Campus, he said.

In 2013, the Evans Churchill community, Roosevelt Row, city partners and the Biomedical Campus successfully worked together to identify options to increase pedestrian safety, Kincaid said.

Scheel said the University of Arizona has been a good partner to the community and has respected the preservation of historical Phoenix buildings in the past.

“The historic buildings on Van Buren were the first buildings that U of A turned into the medical school,” Scheel said. “Because of U of A coming to town, we were able to save those three historic buildings that were the original Phoenix Union High School campus.”

Local business owners have also expressed concern about the way the campus’ expansion will impact the infrastructure of the community. Wayne Rainey — a third generation Phoenix resident and owner of the artistic, multipurpose space Monorchid on Roosevelt and Second streets — said he and other business owners have issues with parking.

He said all of the spots around local businesses in the area are taken early in the morning, and he hopes the expansion won’t worsen this problem.

“Students and young people are the lifeblood of cities, period,” Rainey said.

He said the city needs to focus on acting like the big city it has become by continuing to work on infrastructure and not building for whoever is lobbying the city – even that includes the universities that are trying to expand for educational purposes.

“It’s hard to navigate the needs of the neighborhood when the goals of the university are different,” Rainey said.

Reprinted from Downtown Devil. Read the original article here.  Article by Madison Adler, Reporter, Downtown Devil.

Javi Javelina

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