Developer begins demolition of dealership

It's been a part of Phoenix history since the 1940's, but efforts to save the iconic Stewart Motor Company building in downtown Phoenix hit a roadblock. The property was sold to a new owner who plans to build apartments there, and last week developers began tearing down the structure piece by piece.

Now the developers are apologizing, but it may all be too little, too late. People fighting to save the building were shocked to see bulldozers move in on Friday and demolish portions of the building, even Mayor Greg Stanton expressed his anger on social media, saying he hoped a compromise was going to be worked out.

Phoenix resident Stacey Champion is speaking out about the demolition of the iconic 1947 building on the corner of Central and McKinley in Phoenix. Built in 1947 as a Studebaker dealership, it was known as the Stewart Motor Company building and most recently circles discs and tapes before closing in 2009.

Developers building a 19 story apartment complex on the site had been working with the city and neighbors to incorporate the building into the plans, but demolition started Friday and into the weekend.

Champion started a petition to try and keep the builders, Aspirant Development from getting any tax incentives from the project.

"For them to continue to ask for any sort of incentives after what they've done would really be rewarding terrible behavior and setting a bad precedent moving forward," said Champion.

Mayor Stanton took to social media saying "I am angry that in the middle of negotiating a plan to save the iconic Stewart Motor Company building the developer began demolition."

The head of the development company addressed the controversy saying they got bad advice from consultants, and "that advice resulted in the start of the demolition of the existing building, since it was ultimately our responsibility, we sincerely regret this taking place."

Where things stand now is unclear, but it does sound like the developers want to go back to the table with those fighting to save the building to see how much of it can be included in the new plans, especially the most recognizable part, the round front windows that were used to serve as a display for the Studebaker cars.