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Preservationists call foul on Suns, Phoenix

PHOENIX — A couple of 20th-century buildings in the heart of downtown Phoenix have been reduced to rubble, in order to pave the way for a Suns parking structure.

“My first thought was, of course, disappointment,” said Jim McPherson with the Arizona Preservation Foundation. He watched as demolition crews tore through the walls of the St. James and Madison hotels.

“Here it is our centennial year and historic buildings are being taken down. They represent our collective history, collective culture,” McPherson said.

Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton released this statement regarding the agreement between the city and the Suns to save the front and lobby of the St. James Hotel:

“I support historic preservation because how we treat our past says a lot about our future, and part of our city’s rich history includes the Madison and St. James hotels. When I learned of the Suns’ intention to demolish both buildings, I personally asked them to meet with me and discuss preserving all or at least some portion of the site.

“The Suns agreed to save a portion of the St. James, a hotel that is on the National Register of Historic Places, and I appreciate that the Suns changed their plan and accommodated my request. This instance highlights a larger policy issue our city faces.

“The city’s current investment in historic structures is inadequate, and if we really want to be serious about preserving historic buildings in the future, we need to find better financial solutions. As Mayor, I will make it a priority to build a bridge from our rich history to our new development.”

Critics said it’s too little, too late.