By Colleen Sparks
A historic designation for a home on North Central Avenue is in place after a protracted debate between its owners and neighbors but the issue is likely not resolved.
The Phoenix City Council at its Dec. 4 meeting approved the Historic Preservation zoning overlay for what is known as the McElroy-Young House at 7019 N. Central Ave. in a 6-3 vote. Their votes came after many neighbors spoke in favor of preserving the historical feel of the site and several others urged the City Council to allow the homeowners to exercise their private property rights.
City staff members had recommended the City Council approve the zoning overlay, as did the Alhambra Village Planning Committee, the Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission. The site had been formally identified as historic property in 2013 when the city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office added it to the inventory of eligible properties. Then in April of last year the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office received a demolition application request from Karl Tunberg of Midland Real Estate Alliance representing the homeowners, David and America Young of the America M. Young Trust.
The Youngs at the City Council meeting said the house needs much work and they have suffered health problems so they want to sell it. They said the zoning overlay would create an economic hardship as they would not receive as much money selling the property with the house still on it as they would if it was demolished.
“We have not been allowed to put our property on the open market,” America Young told the City Council. “We have been sick; my husband’s been sick. If you’re voting that way, you’re taking our rights away.”
William Fischbach, an attorney representing the America M. Young Trust, said the Youngs want to sell the property and “that’s their right.” He said approval of the historic designation would result in a lawsuit being filed tied to Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act.
Community members and residents in the North Central Phoenix Homeowners Association (NCPHA) urged the Council to approve the historic designation.
“This home is worthy of preservation because it dovetails with what our neighborhood and its residents have worked hard for years to protect,” said Mary Crozier, president of the NCPHA.
A city staff report said the home is significant because of its “association with early 20th century agricultural development in Phoenix.” The late William Frank McElroy and his wife, Sara Ray “Cherry” bought the property in 1926 and started constructing the home a few months later.