Well, you can’t say we didn’t try. When last we left the Devenney-Steadman House, the Phoenix City Council had approved its demolition but the owners were willing to wait awhile before actually razing this fine 19th century house, in case somebody wanted to move it. The Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency put together a plan PHURA that would have relocated the Steadman House to a prominent corner lot on Main Street, adjacent to a historic building on the north (the Phoenix Grange) and the Phoenix City Hall, on the west. The Devenney-Steadman House would have been restored for use as PHURA’s offices, including a compatible addition to the rear for meeting room use, and the entire thing, including purchase of the land, could be paid for by the saved rental on PHURA’s offices over the remaining 15 years of life. Phoenix got a great addition to its Main Street, saved money, created an asset for the community’s future use or sale AND undertook what would have amounted to a demonstration project that rehabilitation is not only cost effective but cool. And Phoenix is a city that has little track record when it comes to historic preservation and re-use so who better to lead the way than local government?
On Monday of this week the issue came before the Phoenix City Council, who needed to approve PHURA’s expenditure to purchase the land. To be clear, they didn’t need to provide any funding, they needed to approve PHURA using its own funds to purchase land and restore the Devenney-Steadman House instead of wasting it on rent. Guess what they did?
By a vote of 3-3, with the Mayor voting to break the tie in the negative, the City of Phoenix formally thumbed its official nose at this win-win-win project. If I were a betting man, I would not be betting on the future of restoration in Phoenix, especially the Devenney-Steadman House. Sigh.
You can read the local newspaper report here: Mail Tribune