Development History of the Art Park
In the early 1990’s Alwun House was approached by a City of Phoenix Preservation Officer informing us that Alwun House needed to attain a “Use Permit” to operate the nonprofit’s activities. So we promptly started the Use Permit public hearing process. The key issue expressed by a few people was parking. When Alwun House held events the parking was an imposition on the neighborhood. Our Use permit was approved with stipulations that we seek opportunities to develop parking options, including shuttle service to larger parking lots.
In 2007 neighbors Leo & Florence Kyle died and left the house to their daughter. Flo had given her daughter instructions to offer the house to Alwun House knowing we needed parking and secondly, she did not want her house to remain a blight on the neighborhood or a slumlord property. In 2008 Alwun House purchased the property. At almost the same time the house on 1209 E Diamond became available. That house had been open vacant and stripped bare. Not a light future, a light switch or even a piece of conduit. Both houses were acquired and razed.
Considering the very occasional parking needed by Alwun House, it seemed wasteful to have this land sit there unused over 90% of the time. Also, we found that to rezone for parking use (P-1) would mean we could only use the land for parking, nothing else. About that time the City of Phoenix became one of the last cities in the valley to offer PUD (Planned Unit Development) which allowed us to create a custom zoning that would allow social activities when not in use as parking. The rezoning required a series of public meetings starting with neighborhood residents and up through the various committees and approved by City Council in September 2012.
Awun House spent the next decade raising funds and literally six full years processing the required “Environmental Assessment.” City staff working alongside declared it record breaking time (as in the longest time ever). After that our Landscape Architect and engineers spent the next two years preparing Construction Documents (aka blueprint plans). In September 2018 plans were submitted to City Development Review. In September 2019 we had the plans reviewed enough to finally go-to-bid. Bidding process was overseen by City NSD staff due to their contribution to the project. Bidding process had to be repeated a second time and required value engineering to trim construction budget to our available funds. December 2019 contract was signed with Kroll Contractors for $387K and construction began.
As construction was underway, we discovered that among the 40+ uses listed in our PUD, it turned out we didn’t have zoning right to host food trucks on the property. Even our attorneys were surprised and thus Alwun House started into rezoning the property again. To amend our existing PUD required a complete new rezoning process again with all the public vetting process and series of public meetings. The amended PUD was finally approved by City Council on December 2nd 2020.
While it appears construction is complete, we still lack our official “Certificate of Completion” due to minor inspection protocols that have been ongoing the past several months. Our contractor is still dotting I’s and crossing T’s.
Special thanks to Gammage and Burnham for donating their services, assisting Alwun House with purchase contracts and rezoning. Thanks also goes to Paul Miluski of Project Engineering Consultants who donated a technical land survey of the site.
Special thanks to the following professional designers.
Jason Harrington, Landscape Architect | Ritoch Powell Associates , Civil Engineer | Mark Greenawalt*, Electrical Engineer | *donating their professional assistance pro bono – THANK YOU!