Scottsdale officials say they’ll work to make good on promises to more than 300 homeowners about the benefits of living in the city’s first designated historic neighborhoods.
The Historic Preservation Commission wants grant funding and guidance from architects, designers and construction experts made available to residents who renovate or remodel homes in the neighborhoods.
The commission worked for two years to get the Village Grove and Town and Country subdivisions in south Scottsdale listed on the city’s Historic Register.
The City Council unanimously approved the designations earlier this week, prompting applause from about 40 people attending the meeting. That support gives the commission impetus to push the city to establish incentive and assistance programs to help property owners preserve their homes, said Debbie Abele, historic preservation officer.
Assistance might include linking historical preservation efforts with the city’s Green Building Program to assist residents in making their older homes more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable, Abele said.
Commissioners are aiming to have programs in place next year, she said.
Such programs will provide the best response to critics who view historic designation as too much government control over what property owners can do with their homes, said Ed Wimmer, an architect and chairman of the commission.
Historic preservation zoning regulates property owners’ actions only when they want to make changes to the exteriors of homes that would remove or drastically alter distinctive architectural characteristics, Wimmer said.
The defining historical characteristic of most of the 255 homes in Village Grove near Oak and 68th streets and the 62 homes in Town and Country near Oak and 74th streets is their reflection of the post-World World II suburban boom in the United States and the emergence of modern Scottsdale from its rural roots.
Some of Scottsdale’s 1950s subdivisions exemplify many of the best residential architectural innovations and building practices of the time, as well as the era’s lifestyle trends, Abele said.
JoAnn Handley, a Scottsdale native and longtime member of the Scottsdale Historical Society, saw the city’s transformation during that period.
"People say these houses are only 50 years old and not historical," she said. "But the reason we have famous historic buildings 200 years old in other parts of the country is that people had the foresight to start preserving them before they got too old. If we wait another 50 years, it will be too late."
Barry Rich has lived in Village Grove for 10 years and seen "some insensitive remodels that totally don’t fit the neighborhood’s style."
With historical preservation zoning helping to maintain the subdivision’s original flavor, "it will keep the integrity of the neighborhood . . . and I believe property values will increase," Rich said.
Dirk Moore, a 13-year Town and Country resident, said he thinks the historic designation will provide an important boost for the city’s efforts to revitalize south Scottsdale’s older areas.
Jennifer Hibbard, a Village Grove resident and a real estate agent, said she’s confident the neighborhoods will be more desirable now.
She and Moore were among several residents who spoke in support of the historic preservation zoning prior to the City Council’s vote. They told city officials a large majority of homeowners favored the designations. No one spoke in opposition.
Abele said supporters’s optimism is well-founded.
"It’s been demonstrated everywhere that historic preservation protects (neighborhood) character and encourages investment and reinvestment. . . . These areas are attracting the young people and young families who renovate and keep them alive," she said.
The Historic Preservation Commission plans to soon begin the designation process for sections of three other 1950s south Scottsdale subdivisions: Scottsdale Estates IV north of Town and Country, Cavalier Vistas near Miller and Thomas roads, and Sherwood Heights near Oak and 56th streets.