- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - The owner of a Phoenix home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright will face resistance if he tries to turn the property into a major tourist attraction, residents said.

Zach Rawling, a Las Vegas attorney who purchased the house last year, wants to incorporate an underground museum and other expansions, according to his attorney.

Paul Gilbert said Rawling wants to put in a 25,000-square-foot facility that will include a stage and gallery space, the Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1w6ZkVP ). Rawling has purchased three neighboring properties to tear down for more open space. But Rawling asked the city in March to delay consideration of an historic preservation designation on the structure.

According to Gilbert, more time is needed to pursue new zoning rules for parking and public visitation. And that has residents worried.

“Once they have a (planned unit development), that opens the door for development,” said Luis Argueso, who lives around the corner from the house. “We have zoning laws for a reason. It’s zoned as a neighborhood.”

Members of the local neighborhood association recently circulated a petition rejecting Rawling’s ideas. But some do not share their opposition, including association president Richard Rea.

“It seems like the owner and the attorney are making every effort to do what will be the least intrusive and it will be something that everybody in Phoenix will be proud of,” Rea said.

The previous owner had planned to demolish the house in order to develop the property in the Arcadia neighborhood of east Phoenix. Talk of knocking down the structure triggered an outcry from locals and preservationists. Gilbert said Rawling is an enthusiast of Wright’s architecture and residents should wait to hear more about his plans. So far, Rawling has had crumbling walls reinforced and more than 100 olive trees planted, Gilbert said.

Nieghbors’ concerns are being considered, Gilbert said. Once the house becomes a public museum, noise levels would be enforced and visitors would park at a church next door.

But some neighbors say it is all too much.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to put a stop to it,” Argueso said.


Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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