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Phoenix Pledges $200,000 To Save State Fairground Building

WPA building
(Photo courtesy of Jim McPherson)
Artistic rendering of the renovated WPA building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

Mayor Greg Stanton calls it a deal the state can't reject. On Wednesday afternoon, City Council approved a plan to help stabilize the WPA Building located at the south end of the Arizona State Fairgrounds near 19th Avenue and McDowell Road.

Built in 1938, the WPA Building served as the state headquarters for a federal agency that created public project jobs during the Great Depression. In 2014, the Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board planned to demolish it and replace the building with a parking space that could be rented to vendors during the fair. 

"As a longtime resident of F.Q. Story [neighborhood], I have watched the fairgrounds fall into an asphalt jungle even as our neighborhoods stabilized and thrived," Steve Dreiseszun told the council.

After neighbors, like Steve Dreiseszun and preservationists expressed outrage, the Fair Board gave them time to come up with cash to take care of critical repairs to stabilize the building which is also known as the State Fair Civic Building.

Jim McPherson, president of the non-profit Arizona Preservation Foundation told the council that a professional team of architects and contractors conducted a structural review of the buidling that resulted in positive findinigs. McPherson also said that a group of preservationists has secured a tenant for the building to work with the state to possibly house a state historic preservation office and provide display space during the annual state fair

The city’s offer includes $120,000 in General Obligation Bond Funds and $80,000 from the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority. The deal requires the state to match Phoenix's $200,000 offer and promise to preserve the building for at least 30 years. It’s unclear when the State Fair Board will vote on the deal. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.