David Wright House Update

On December 7 the Phoenix City Council voted 8 to 1 to withdraw the landmark designation request for the David and Gladys Wright House that the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy initiated in June 2012.

That application was awaiting City Council action and had been pending, at the current owner’s request, since December 2012, when Zach Rawling bought the property and pledged to preserve it. Since that time the site was enlarged and the Conservancy was fortunate to be able to tour the property during our 2014 annual conference. The Rawling family developed a new plan for use of the property that stirred controversy with some neighborhood groups. The owner submitted a landmark request in 2015 for the enlarged property, which triggered a new landmark review process that has not yet been completed by the owner.

Last month the Conservancy was asked to support withdrawal of the 2012 landmark request. Because the Conservancy’s consistent objective has been to ensure that the house is protected, we sent a letter expressing appreciation for the owner’s efforts but urging the City Council to allow the 2012 application to remain in pending status until such time that the new 2015 landmark application process could be completed and be presented to the City Council for action. The Conservancy stated that retaining the 2012 application would be the most secure path in the event that unforeseen circumstances did not allow the 2015 landmark application to proceed.

Larry Woodin, past president of the Conservancy and a current member of the board of directors' executive committee, met with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton on Wednesday for a productive discussion of the options facing the council. Woodin also attended the City Council meeting to personally present the Conservancy’s views prior to the vote. He reiterated that the Conservancy remains involved to advocate for the protection of the house and to encourage the best possible outcome, offering to all parties involved the organization’s participation in any efforts to help accomplish those goals.

The timetable for completion of the 2015 application process is uncertain, and the owner’s stated goal is to work with a philanthropic partner to develop the future plans for the house. We continue to closely follow the progress in Phoenix.

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