Phoenix Frank Lloyd Wright House Still Faces Threats of Demolition

Thumbnail image for DavidWright2008_01.jpg
The David Wright House,
Panic over the future of the David & Gladys Wright House in Scottsdale began over the summer, when the property landed in the hands of 8081 Meridian, a Nevada-based developer that expressed plans to redevelop the land, split the property and "relocate" of all existing structures on the site.

The historic home at 5212 East Exeter was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1950s for his son, David. The Wright family sold the house to JT Morning Glory Enterprises LP in 2009 (for $2.8 million) and was recently sold again to 8081 Meridian for $1.8 million.

And this morning, it was given front-page treatment by the New York Times as a building in "a fight for its life."

See also:
- Solar Panels Headed to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West
- Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum Misses the Point

Front page of the New York Times by Preservation Foundation member Jim McPherson
When 8081 Meridian announced its plans for the property, historic preservation and architecture groups immediately rallied around the house, started an online petition, and held public meetings.

In September, the Historic Preservation Commission unanimously recommended that the house be given a landmark designation, but to save the house, the Preservation Commission and die-hard Wright supporters have a few more hoops to jump through -- before the current owner decides to 'doze it. And they have plenty of reason to quicken their pace.

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Unfortunately, it seems like the preservationists only want to preserve with other people's money.  The owners were willing to sell the property to someone willing to preserve it, but had no takers.  Yet, we haven't heard word one about the creation of a non-profit to solicit and accept donations to purchase and preserve the house.  If the people who are howling about preserving this home were serious about it (other than just being blow-hards), they would have formed a foundation, raised enough money for the downpayment, purchased the property, and continued to raise funds to pay the mortgage debt.  But as far as I can tell, none of that has happened.


Even the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which just enterred into a huge new collaboration with Columbia University and MoMA in Manhattan, apparently hasn't even stepped forward.  With these new connections (and the trail of money they lead to and the doors they open) why aren't they stepping forward to lead this preservation effort.  Now that the FLW Foundation can more easily access NY Money, it should be a piece of cake for them to raise $1m as a down payment on the property.  The real interested party isn't the Guggenheim Museum (as the article suggests), its the Columbia/MoMA collaboration that could really open a very interesting satellite facility for the study of the FLW's work in the place that FLW called home.  But even they don't seem to think this property important enough to step forward and save.


But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the preservationists insisting on preserving the property with someone else's money because, apparently, they can't be bothered to preserve it with their own $$$$.


5212 E Exeter is the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix. Scottsdale doesn't begin until 64th St, a mile and a half to the east.


I'd like to revise and extend my remarks.


Per the NY Times today: "It may be that the demolition threat is being used as leverage to drive up the price to be paid by preservationists. Having just bought the house for $1.8 million, Mr. Hoffman said 8081 Meridian is looking to clear $2.2 million from any sale, and has so far rejected a cash offer floated several weeks ago from an anonymous, out-of-state Wright lover. This prospective buyer promised a little over $2 million, according to the realtor representing him."


I no longer blame the preservationists for wanting to preserve with other people's money.  I know blame the greedy developers for insisting on a 88% annualized return for owning the house for less than 3 months.

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