Ben Bethel's Embassy Penthouse Commune

Categories: Personal Space
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Photo by Claire Lawton
Ben Bethel (right) with John Werkema (center) and Daniel Bryant (left) on the wrap-around patio of their penthouse. See more shots in our slideshow.
After Ben Bethel graduated from University of Arizona in computer programming, he headed north and sold his computer to pay the deposit on a condo at Fourth Avenue and McKinley Street in downtown Phoenix.

Almost twenty years later, he's moved up in the building and currently lives in one of the penthouses. He laughs, but is definitely serious, when he calls his place the Embassy Commune -- the 4,300-square-foot space has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a theater and "eight-or-so" roommates, "depending on who's dating who," Bethel says.

When he's not running around the Clarendon Hotel, which he bought in 2004, he's on the 1,600-square-foot balcony, usually with a few of roommates, taking in the view.

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Photo by Claire Lawton
​From the balcony, he says he's seen the city grow and change. He points out the new satellite that was just installed on one of the buildings on Central Avenue and says how cool it is to see the transistors blow up whenever a dust storm rolls across the city.


Inside, the style is "temporary eclectic," Bethel says, because each roommate has brought his or her own pieces of art and furniture that decorate the walls and floors.

Bethel has plans to completely renovate the place -- reflooring, painting, and replacing the astroturf on the balcony -- but says he's waiting for his hotel business and the economy pick up.

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Photo by Claire Lawton
(from left): Johnny Velasuez, Daniel Bryant, John Wekema, Ben Bethel, Ross Meyer (and not pictured: Analisa Childers)
​He says he and his roommates used to throw big parties, but they admit to settling down and living more low-key lifestyles. That, and Bethel's moved most of his parties to the Clarendon.

The "commune" doesn't have any official rules (other than not touching the last beer) and while Bethel has seen his roommates come and go, there's usually one constant: "everyone gets along -- we're white, black, Hispanic, straight, gay, single, coupled ... everything except Republican."



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3 comments
Ben Bethel
Ben Bethel

Ahh... the past comes back! I definitely was hanging around the wrong crowd back then... at least I cleaned up my act, got help, got back into volunteering, and turned one of the biggest sources of crime and blight in Phoenix into The Clarendon Hotel, which is now the Best Boutique Hotel in this year's New Times. We're now one of the greatest supporters of agencies for local businesses, people living with HIV/AIDS, GLBT organizations, local arts organizations, etc., etc.

Keep in mind that I've got 27 years of community service and involvement under my belt, and even after my slip-up, I held two publicly appointed offices for 7 years. Also note that all charges were dropped and there's no longer any guilty charges on there. Because of this bad period in my life, which had a terrible impact on my friends and family as well as myself, I will continue to dedicate my life to improving my community. Publishing the information that you published is not only just hateful, it's a felony and your IP address was tagged when you searched for this information - you should read that disclaimer - and I hope the court goes after you... karma.

PhoenixKid2010
PhoenixKid2010

Hey! You! jeepboy, your bravado is embarrassing and tacky. Consider taking up a hobby that doesn't consist of pointing out other people's flaws. It just makes you look desperate for attention.

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