Arcadia Community Association
Peter Sperling is an Arcadia resident and an executive with Apollo Education Group.
decided to retain the orchards on our properties and today, after multiple decades, they remain. It is no accident that our business, The University of Phoenix, is one of the top 50 community-minded companies in America. My father and I are strong believers in the concept of community.
Unfortunately, we have a new neighbor who is taking quite a different approach.
A lawyer from Las Vegas recently bought the beautiful home near Exeter and Rubicon which Frank Lloyd Wright built for his son David and daughter-in-law Gladys back in the 1950s.
Back then, the Wright's decided not to pave Rubicon because they didn't want to alter the rural character of the neighborhood. But the new owner, Mr. Rawling has a different idea. First, he bought two other nearby homes, then he knocked one down, and now he is developing the combined properties into a 25,000-40,000 square foot commercial complex, complete with a museum, a large outdoor amphitheater, a café, a wine bar and a huge underground special event space open for rental.
He says he intends to attract 100,000 new visitors into our neighborhood each year.
When you stop for a moment and consider Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy of organic architecture, it's obvious that this massive commercial complex doesn't make sense. As Wright explained in 1939, the fundamental value he strove to bring to life was "exalting the simple laws of common sense."
His gorgeous works did more than just fit in with the existing land and environment — they exalted them. He did not construct buildings to stick out of nearby mountains like sore thumbs, but rather to blend into them and reflect the natural beauty that existed there already.
If only Mr. Rawling would take the Wright approach to his new homes in Arcadia. Can you imagine what a 25,000 square foot café/museum/amphitheatre/wine bar would do to parking in Arcadia? Or noise at night? Or traffic?
Can you imagine what any size of a use like this in the middle of a residential neighborhood might to do the property values of the homes that so many families have poured their savings into?
Mr. Wright's winter home itself, at the much larger Taliesin West in Scottsdale, doesn't allow for wedding rentals or such commercial activity as they want to respect the architects philosophy.
Arcadia shouldn't be made to suffer because a restoration project became too expensive. The commercialization of Arcadia shouldn't be a subsidy or bailout for anyone.
Some may say look at Wrigley Mansion in the Biltmore or Paolo Soleri's Cosanti in Paradise Valley which are tourist attractions with tens of thousands of people as something we shouldn't mind in Arcadia. Well, both of those examples were there first, before people invested their homes and families nearby.
That's not the case here. If it is allowed to happen in this part of Arcadia near us, it will be encouragement to do the same with other neighborhoods near you.
The Arcadia High School basketball team put up a great fight in their recent championship game. It's up to us to show that same spirit now. And while the courageous Titans might have come up short in overtime, we can't and won't lose this fight to save our residential Arcadia community.
Peter Sperling is an Arcadia resident and executive with Apollo Education Group.
Arcadia is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in all of Arizona, and I love living here.
My father and I both chose to purchase our homes in Arcadia because of the special ambiance and low density purely residential lifestyle.
My father first moved to Arcadia in the 1970's when many of the roads were still dirt and large citrus and pistachio orchards were interspersed throughout the neighborhood. These orchards were an important part of history, providing citrus to our American hero's fighting in World War II.
I moved to Arcadia in 1983, purchasing a property that was (and still is) home to one of the last two of these indigenous citrus groves. Both my father and I remodeled our homes but were quite careful about preserving the history and unique character of the community. Through an appreciation and respect for the Arcadia heritage, we