Community activist hope to save Greenhaus Gallery battling with condo builder

Some argue that it's a downtown icon, rich with Phoenix history; and they're fighting to save "The Greenhaus Gallery" from a developer who plans to tear it down and build condos in its place.

At the center of the battle are murals created by a famed artist.

The Greenhaus Gallery off Third Street in downtown Phoenix is considered by many an important part of the rich history of Roosevelt Row. 

"It was built about 65 years ago and a year or two or right around the time it was built a bar was moved from across the street right around there to here," said Bob Diehl, a community activist.

A galley owner in the arts district, Bob Diehl says in its early days the 222 building was known as the 307 lounge, a hangout for one of Arizona's most illustrious artists, Etton "Ted" DeGrazia.

"He couldn't pay his bar tab and he painted the walls as part of his bar tab," Diehl said. 

According to Diehl, the murals, along with dozens of others created by other artists, are about to be demolished along with the building to make way for new condos. And the news is devastating to those who know and love both.

"If they tear it down, its gone forever and the memories are gone too, you know," says Scott Hattis. "This building has served the Roosevelt Row community for a long time as numerous businesses."

"Downtown Phoenix will become nothing other than a compressed suburban sprawl," Diehl said. "It's placeless and meaningless."

Diehl has taken it upon himself to try to save the artwork, asking the developer to move the structure across the street or incorporate it into the new design.

In a written statement to Fox 10 spokesperson for Baron Properties, Scott Fisher said, "We don't just share a desire to preserve the DeGrazia artwork. We want to do what we can to actually enhance and expand a great arts neighborhood with additional efforts too."

Fisher goes on to say Baron Properties has hired a well-regarded local architect to craft an overall design. It has sought no increased heights or densities other than what is currently allowed. The ground floor of the new building will be common areas to further activate foot traffic and no historically designated properties are being demolished.

"This is the first of the new wave of the building boom that is happening it will not be the last and there are 70 or 80 buildings that are at stake." If you let this one go silently, what next?"

Diehl plans to fight until the end, which is drawing increasingly near. Work is set to begin in early March.

The Art Detour takes place March 7th and 8th. Baron Properties says it will wait until after the event to start construction.
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