The Republic’s Wrong Vision For The Wright House. And Political Nescience
We are fans of the Arizona Republic. We also came into being due to their retreat from robust, community-oriented editorial content. Today, the Arizona Republic’s editorialists awoke from their frequent hibernation on matters local, reminding us how they can be wrong, not Wright.
Essentially, the Republic chastised the Arcadia neighborhood for its substantial opposition to a developer’s plan to commercialize the David Wright House, designed by the famed father for his son. Here is a link to the editorial.
The opposition appears to be based on the not unfounded frustration that what once seemed a noble effort to preserve and restore a house has metastasized into a commercial development ploy that would make even Donald Trump blush.
According to the Phoenix Councilman who represents the area, Sal DiCiccio, the effort to preserve this house now includes an outdoor performance venue, a “wine bar,” weddings and substantial tourist visitation levels. Just the way Mr. Frank Lloyd designed the house, Wright? Not exactly. He designed it as a peaceful retreat for his son with no commercial activity, unlike the current owner Zach Rawlings who is using Wright’s renown for an exceptional commercial development parlay.
We do have to give Mr. Rawlings credit for creativity, even if it now means any home of interest in the City of Phoenix can follow his lead for enrichment and disruption.
Maybe the Rawlings’ Austin Powers-like ingenuity is what led to the mancrush in today’s editorial It was written by a long-time scribe at the Republic well known for being a reliable tributary for Rawlings’ chief lobbyist.
During the love letter we were regaled to Rawlings’ selflessness and ties to the Valley, with neighbors being scolded for describing him as being someone from Las Vegas. Shame on they the Republic instructed, not realizing itself Rawlings’ has apparently been registered to vote in Nevada since 2007.
While the Republic is misguided at least they are consistent, trespassing on both white-collar neighborhoods like Arcadia, and blue collar ones alike.
Flash back an Olympiad to 2011. Not too far from Arcadia, just north of McDowell and 44th Street, the same Arizona Republic suggested it was OK to turn a residential property into one for a QuikTrip. You know, the neighbor everyone would want next to its single-family home. The kind of commercial neighbor that was opposed by the lower middle-class neighborhood surrounding it. Well, it turns out Phoenix voters disagreed with impugning neighbors. In the first city-wide referendum election the position of QuikTrip and the Republic was defeated. Not by a little bit, but by a large 61%-39% margin. A key theme of the successful campaign was that if commercial development could be so inserted next to neighbors in east Phoenix it could happen to your neighborhood next.
On that same ballot something else happened showing how important it is to politically side with neighbors. Former Councilman Greg Stanton won. In a crowded field the former Councilman became a Mayor (actually it took the run-off election in November). A chief reason was the belief by many neighborhood leaders and their fellow residents that he was on their side. And that is the formula for winning most often in Phoenix.
Editorial writers like to use big words. So we’ll try to speak their language. Nescience. It means not terribly wise. While the Arizona Republic Editorial Board can be wise on many matters, it’s got the wrong vision for the wrong location in Arcadia. In this case neither the means nor the ends are justified. But that’s not just our opinion. It’s the apparent one of Mr. Wright himself who designed this particular house in splendid isolation, at peace with its surroundings, not in jarring contrast to them. With a decidedly residential setting not strident commercialism. Just like his two famed homes of Taliesin and Taliesin West. “Taliesin” means “Shining Brow.” Surely Mr. Wright would have grimaced at all the furrowed brows in Arcadia now, spawned not by a disciple but by a dissimulator.