This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Giving old buildings new life in Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona has always had growing pains. From the moment the townsite was created in 1870, people wanted to live there. And with each growth spurt there came a wave of new buildings and the destruction of the old ones. The first big building boom happened after 1887, when the Phoenix-Maricopa Railroad finally arrived. This brought in relatively inexpensive lumber and bricks, and meant the demolition of virtually all of the original buildings in Phoenix.

An even bigger building boom happened in the 1920s, with the great prosperity of the United States and the world in general. Again, most of the old buildings disappeared and were replaced by new ones. After World War II, in the late forties and early fifties, another gigantic building boom hit Phoenix which again virtually rebuilt the entire city. This is the city that most of us are familiar with.

Because of these constant building booms, very little of the original buildings of Phoenix remain. It's as if the city has had a "face lift" every few decades. And it does give an extremely young and modern look to the city, which most people like. But not everyone wants to see their city be "reinvented" every few years. Not everyone want to see a generic building replacing the old buildings of character being built on every other street corner. And these people are doing more than just speaking up, they are acting. This process has come to be known as re-purposing.

Re-purposing an old building does not mean making a museum out of it. It does not mean hanging velvet ropes around it and saying "don't touch". It means taking a building and keeping it externally the same, but giving people something they need in their daily life, like a restaurant.

Oddly enough, it is much cheaper to tear down a building and put up a new one than to re-purpose it. And if you're wondering why an investor would choose to go that route, I was wondering it, too. And my recent involvement with the "Old School 7" at Osborn and 7th Street has answered some of those questions for me.

The city of Phoenix can't afford to make museums out of all of its old buildings, nor would we want to live in a neighborhood with dead structures. Re-purposing is a way to breath new life into old buildings, help keep the connection with our history, and besides, they're kind of cool places to go and hang out!
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