Districts may make history - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Districts may make history

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Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:43 am | Updated: 4:39 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

July 22, 2004

Scottsdale is moving closer to designating its first historic neighborhoods.

The Historic Preservation Commission tonight will review a study of neighborhoods that sprang up during Scottsdale’s post-World War II era boom from rural town to modern suburban enclave.

A committee is recommending five subdivisions built in the 1950s be considered for listing on the Scottsdale Historic Register.

"This was a very important time in American culture. . . . These neighborhoods reflect the society of that time,’’ said Liz Wilson, a historic preservation consultant who researched more than 35 Scottsdale subdivisions completed in the ’50s.

It was a time when the country was seeing prosperity spread to the middle classes. Families were buying their first homes in droves. Mass-produced housing was reconfiguring the urban landscape and the consumer culture was exploding.

There was no better mirror of those national trends in the Valley than in Scottsdale, said Debbie Abele, the city’s historic preservation officer.

Some of the city’s more intact neighborhoods from that period "are probably the best examples in the Valley of quality postwar residences. . . . Some of the architectural and building practices that shaped homebuilding in America were pioneered here," Abele said.

The neighborhoods would join 15 other sites on the local historic register. Most are buildings in downtown Scottsdale that were significant in the establishment of the town in the 1920s and ’30s or galleries, shops and resort hotels that were part of Scottsdale’s later evolution into a major tourist destination and arts Mecca.

Historic designation would come with special preservation zoning, giving neighborhoods a layer of regulatory protection against development that might erode their architectural character or environmental flavor.

Residents also would be eligible for technical assistance from the city to maintain or restore the historical features of their homes.

There could eventually be monetary assistance as well. Abele has proposed the city set aside funding to offer financial incentives for owners of historic buildings or homeowners in historic neighborhoods to do restoration.

All of the recommended neighborhoods are in south Scottsdale. They include Sherwood Heights near Oak and 60th streets; some of the original Cavalier Vistas, Town and Country and Scottsdale Estates subdivisions near Oak Street and Miller Road; and part of the original Village Grove subdivisions near McDowell Road and 68th Street.

Urban development in Scottsdale in the 1950s went only as far north as Chaparral Road, just several blocks from the downtown commercial district, Wilson said.

Residential development at the time stretched only a couple miles farther north to the Indian Bend Road area, she said.

The Historic Preservation Commission plans to hear public comment on the recommended historic neighborhoods at its meetings in the fall, Abele said.

What: Historic Preservation Commission to discuss recommendations for historic neighborhood designations

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Community Development Conference Room in One Civic Center Building, 7447 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale

Information: (480) 312-7013

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