EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.
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Wright House lesson: Phoenix needs a sense of place
By Mark Stapp
Phoenix canâ€™t compete on price alone; it needs to put a "there" there.
As a resident of Arcadia, Iâ€™ve been following the debate swirling around the Gladys and David Wright House.
The new owner, who saved the historic residence from demolition two years ago, established a foundation for its management and has applied for a special permit to conduct ticket tours, education and cultural programs and open a cafÃ© and bookstore.
Neighbors are crying "commercialization," but this is an issue that transcends Arcadia or any one neighborhood.
As places mature, changes occur. Metro areas are developed for perpetuity; by comparison, residents come and go in relatively short time periods.
Metro Phoenix is an adolescent metropolitan area struggling to get ahead in a highly competitive economic-development landscape. We are striving against the likes of Denver, Austin, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Seattle for the prize of high-wage jobs.
But we cannot compete on the cost of doing business alone. If we are simply the low-cost provider, we reduce ourselves to a commodity, with all of the accompanying vulnerability. Instead, we need to build an authentic, interesting, culturally rich, locally focused, diversified community.
To compete as a metro area, we need to be a place where employers can find quality employees. Being affordable is important but only to a point. If Phoenix is bland, inauthentic and without contextually designed, culturally relevant, locally focused places, it will not attract the talent employers seek â€” even if it is the cheapest place to do business.
Unless all we want are low-wage jobs, we must create interesting places to live, work and play so that young talent and quality employers will come and stay.
Community-development professionals coined a now overused term: "place making." It means to deliberately create interesting, desirable places. Great neighborhoods correlate with many locational attributes and characteristics. Gertrude Stein, when referring to Oakland, said "there is no there there." The witticism has been used to imply a lack of character, meaningful identity and culture.
What we think of as a place is no single characteristic; it is a combination of characteristics that make a place special. These may be natural, man-made or a combination. How we perceive, interact with and remember a place â€” the human experience in a landscape â€” is what makes it magnetic. These social and cultural elements of society combine to make an identity for a particular piece of land.
Another way to look at sense of place is contrast.
Places like strip malls have little sense of place because they more or less look similar and often have no name. People donâ€™t long to spend any time there or write anything about them. The places that evoke a strong sense of place have an identity and character recognized immediately by a visitor and valued deeply by residents.
Our political leaders need to look beyond the demands of a few residents and realize that the Gladys and David Wright House could be one of our special places: a culturally rich asset that would contribute to the making of Phoenix distinctive, desirable and economically competitive.
This is not crass commercialization; this is respect for priceless culture. Property values in the neighborhood will increase as a result.
You can't have it both ways. You canâ€™t talk about securing higher wage-earning jobs and fail to support the cultural infrastructure needed to attract them. The Gladys and David Wright House is an important precedent. Let us learn how to integrate it into our city as a cultural treasure that belongs to all.
Mark Stapp is director of the master of real estate development program at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Wealthy neighbors of Johnson's estate were aghast at the prospect of the "masses" invading their little bastion of civility with cars and people coming and going (and we are talking acreage here). In this case the solution was to create an off-site visitors' center in the commercial center of town. To visit the house, one must park (or take the train up from New York) and convene at the small exhibit space. After viewing an introductory display, a limited group of visitors share a small shuttle bus to the property. This occurs several times a day. There is no disruption to anyone other than a small van which arrives and departs from the estate a few times a day. Certainly nothing different from the comings and goings of the various gardeners, servants, and cleaning people which serve others in the neighborhood. Why can't a similar solution be made to work for this property?
Contrast this to the full, formal visitors' center built on the property adjacent to the Martin house with visitors allowed to come and go as they please. I find it fascinating how different types of "moneyed" people react to this situation.
That's odd, because Taliesin just announced this morning it recieved an 8 year reaccredidation from the NAABDavidC wrote:Troubles facing Wright school could harm Arcadia house