Phoenix contractor-developer works to preserve city’s architectural history

May 19, 2023, 4:35 AM

Warehouse 215 hosts events in a space that remains recognizable as a once-working laundry plant. (K...

Warehouse 215 hosts events in a space that remains recognizable as a once-working laundry plant. (KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)

(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)

PHOENIX – Phoenix is growing, and change is inevitable. However, there’s still room for some of the historical architecture that defined how the city used to look.

Heather Lennon has been a residential and commercial general contractor for 25 years, and she’s also a real estate developer with a passion for preserving Phoenix architecture.

“I think that we all have to take personal responsibility, to make things better than when we found them,” she said.

Retrofitting and repurposing old buildings isn’t easy – and it requires a lot more work and know-how than just tearing a building down and starting from scratch.

“You need to understand how things used to be built,” Lennon explained. “From old brick walls that can’t handle loads anymore, to old bow truss ceilings that really should only last from 60 to 80 years.”

Despite that hurdle, she said clients still show an interest in putting in that work and carrying on the legacy of Phoenix in the process.

“There are people that are willing to put forth that extra effort, and find ways to create scenarios where the history of the space still exists,” she said.

Lennon’s work in Phoenix has led to many stories of old buildings being given new life, from work on houses in historical neighborhoods to retail projects.

“We had an opportunity to work with a client who owns a building that was one of the very first funeral homes here in Phoenix, called Merryman’s,” she recounted. “We were able to save the building for them, and now Chuckie Duff has an amazing restaurant there called Sin Muerte.”

Some of the projects she takes on involve reusing historic architecture in a more abstract way.

“I purchased some flooring that happened to be from the Suns arena when it was America West [Arena],” she said. “Then we found out that it was the flooring from the season where they got to the Finals against the Bulls.”

She then turned that flooring into furniture, including metal tables with tops made of slats of the historic hardwood.

“The Suns actually hosted a beautiful party where they were celebrating that season,” she said, “and we were lucky enough to have the legacy and current players sign our tables.”

To Lennon, projects like that are just another example of Phoenix’s history being repurposed and co-existing with the present.

Then there’s Warehouse 215. Once known as Phoenix Linen and Towel Supply, the building opened in 1918 has now been converted into a multi-purpose event space.

As with all jobs like this, it presented some unique challenges.

“I think with Warehouse 215, a lot of the saving grace was actually the fact that it was a linen and laundry business, there was steam involved,” Lennon explained. “I believe that moisture helped save the bow trusses that are up there. They now have a steel structure in them that helps support.”

She sees Warehouse 215 as an example of what the future of once-bustling warehouses can look like.

“The Downtown warehouse district is near and dear to my heart,” Lennon said. “I see that that neighborhood is in need, and I see great opportunity to actually create change in that area.”

Some Phoenix residents may look at one of her future projects and see nothing more than an empty building. However, Lennon said that when she walks in, she can visualize what the space will eventually become, and understands its importance to the fabric of Phoenix.

“If you have an opportunity to travel around the world, you realize what a young country we really are,” she said. “There are so few old warehouses that tell the story of what we were, and I just think you should never forget where you come from.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A border wall constructed of shipping containers and topped with concertina wire, built on federal ...

Brandon Gray

Shipping container border wall cases involving federal government and Arizona dismissed

Two cases between Arizona and Federal officials involving shipping containers at the U.S.-Mexico border were voluntarily dismissed, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

4 hours ago

FILE - John Holman, of Denver, Colo., right, and others with the group "No Labels" take part in a r...

Associated Press

A third party signed up 15,000 voters in Arizona. Democrats worry that’s enough for a Biden spoiler

More than 15,000 people in Arizona have registered to join a new political party floating a possible bipartisan “unity ticket” against Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

5 hours ago

Maricopa County is seeking sanctions against Kari Lake and her attorneys over the Republican’s la...

Associated Press

At Kari Lake’s 3rd trial related to Arizona election, county makes case to protect ballot signatures

An election official and lobbyists were among the witnesses brought by Maricopa County attorneys on the first day of a trial Thursday in another lawsuit filed by Kari Lake, the defeated Republican in last year's Arizona governor's race, to deny her request to see signed ballot envelopes of 1.3 million early voters.

6 hours ago

AP Photo/Matt Rourke)...

Associated Press

President Joe Biden to deliver speech in Arizona next week, pay tribute to John McCain

President Joe Biden will travel to Arizona next week to deliver a democracy-focused address that will also pay tribute to the late John McCain.

7 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Homeless ID Project)...

Homeless ID project helps nearly 800 people in downtown Phoenix during first month

Nearly 800 state IDs were issued during the first month of the Homeless ID Project in downtown Phoenix.

8 hours ago

people standing at mather point...

SuElen Rivera

Grand Canyon National Park to stay open if federal government shuts down, Arizona Gov. Hobbs says

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said the state is prepared to keep Grand Canyon National Park open regardless of a government shutdown. 

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Phoenix contractor-developer works to preserve city’s architectural history