Another Piece of History Dies at the Altar of “Progress”

Photo Credit: Phoenix Business Journal

The word “progress” denotes moving forward by its very nature. While it takes on different meanings for different things, at its core it generally means leaving something behind in the past for something in the future that is ostensibly better. But sometimes the word is used too loosely; not everything old needs to be updated, and not everything new adds value. Such is the case with a demolition that is coming down the pipeline soon in Paradise Valley.

We were disappointed to hear about a local fixture befalling this fate. The Ascension Lutheran Church in Paradise Valley was recently sold and will soon be demolished in favor of luxury homes. 60 years of quiet solitude, fellowship and praise was not enough in the face of what was almost certainly an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

The 5.3 acre parcel was sold for $11 million and actually garnered a bidding war, not surprising in the ultra-hot Paradise Valley residential market (even the Mayor was recently bragging about the strength of the housing market). Since PV homes are mandated to be on parcels that are at least one acre in size, that will lead to only about four or five homes, but one can imagine how high-end they will likely be if the land alone is worth over $2 million a home.

According to the vice president of the church, they were facing $2 million in maintenance, an onerous cost for nearly every church except perhaps the largest of megachurches. And to their credit, they brought the potential transaction to a vote amongst the parishioners, a truly democratic approach that feels exceedingly rare but pleasantly transparent. They will be ok, be it via merging with another church or simply moving, one way or another.

That said, anything that lasts 60 years in Arizona might as well be considered a historical landmark. We are an area that has consistently seen new growth as progress, and old structures as just that…old. Regressive. A wasted opportunity financially speaking. While the modernity inherent in our home area can certainly be a draw, it’s hard not to peer wistfully at historic buildings in other metropolitan areas and not think…what if.

So again, longtime Arizonans lose yet another link to our past. Again, history is erased in the name of profit and ultra-luxury. Again, local landmarks are transformed into more of the same. And while we certainly do appreciate beautiful homes as much as the next person, it would be preferred if they didn’t come at the cost of history.