Category Archives: Kerr Cultural Center

Scottsdale’s Kerr Center easement urged

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] — The Scottsdale Historical Preservation Commission plans to tell the City Council that a conservation easement is the best preservation the Kerr Cultural Center can expect to get. Commission Chairman George Hartz said he wants to describe the hundreds of letters and hours of emotional testimony that led the commission unanimously to recommend the city accept the easement from Arizona State University.

The Kerr Cultural Center at 6110 N. Scottsdale Road consists of the home and studio-performance hall of composer and philanthropist Louise Lincoln Kerr, who donated the site to ASU in 1977. Scottsdale had discussed putting historic zoning over the site, but ASU said the city has no authority to zone state-owned land. The university suggested that the conservation easement would reach the same goals. Hundreds of musicians and residents have pleaded with the commission and the university to protect the adjacent parking lot so the center can continue to be viable as a performance hall.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Ralph Freso, Tribune.]

Kerr easement proposal to go before Scottsdale City Council, June 17

[Source: Patricia Myers, Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center] — The Kerr Cultural Center conservation easement will be voted on by the Scottsdale City Council at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at Scottsdale City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (south of Indian School Road between Scottsdale Road and Miller Road). This agreement between the City and Arizona State University (via the Arizona Board of Regents) will protect the two adobe buildings and surrounding landscape, Resolution 7615 on the Consent Agenda, which predicts its passage. A Scottsdale Historic Preservation commissioner will speak in favor, as will Patricia Myers, representing nearly 1,000 signers of our support letter.

If you wish to attend, fill out a Comment Card (for Request to Speak, or use the card to log your support). That will demonstrate ongoing support, as at the three previous Historic Preservation Commission meetings, where more than 150 supporters attended and nearly 50 spoke. CCKCC also suggests going to http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/, click on City Council agenda. It’s easy to submit a comment of support for Item 23 (unless the Item numbers have changed), which is forwarded to mayor and council members.

The Kerr Conservation Easement protects the two adobe buildings and 0.459 acres on which they sit. It does not include the parking lot, interior aspects or usage, despite those elements specifically advocated by HP Commissioners at previous public hearings. The HP Commission had asked that negotiations between the city and ASU include all aspects of the Kerr center’s physical state and function as a cultural venue, the stated intention when Louise Lincoln Kerr willed the two buildings and 1.65 acres to ASU in 1977. Despite the city’s request, ASU would not agree to the inclusion of the entire 1.65-acre property. CCKCC continues to emphasize that the value of the Kerr Center to the community lies in its function as a cultural venue, not just two old adobe buildings that will be nice to look at.

At the Council meeting, CCKCC will acknowledge the importance of the easement to protect the two buildings from destruction, but also express disappointment that the easement does not honor Mrs. Kerr’s stated intention in her will, since it does not specify the usage and essential parking lot.

Panel delays vote on future of Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] — Scottsdale’s Historic Preservation Commission has postponed a key vote on the future of the Kerr Cultural Center. Hundreds of advocates were expected to converge on the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Thursday for a meeting on a proposed “conservation easement.” Arizona State University, which was deeded the historic performance hall in 1977, had proposed the easement in place of historic zoning. The commission delayed the vote last month, saying the easement did not protect enough of the property. Scottsdale officials said the city and ASU still are negotiating terms. The next meeting of the commission is May 8 at an as-yet undetermined time and place.

Fight to protect Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center continues

[Source: Kathy Howard, Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center] — The next important meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 10, when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission meets. The location will likely be One Civic Center, 7447 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale (the site of previous meetings). Please plan to attend, fill out a comment card, and speak if you’d like.

Last Thursday’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting focused on the “final draft conservation easement” agreement proposed between the city of Scottsdale and Kerr’s owner, ASU. The draft would protect only the two historic buildings and immediate grounds. More than 70 supporters attended the 90-minute discussion; more than 20 spoke fervently in favor, including musicians, Kerr and Lincoln family members, community leaders, and preservation advocates. The speakers repeatedly asked that three provisions be added to the agreement: the adjacent parking lot, KCC’s continued use as a performance venue, and preservation of the interior. Many speakers echoed the powerful mantra that “ASU should do the right thing.” Because citizens rarely attend these meetings, the Commission saw vividly that Kerr supporters are serious about preserving the Kerr Cultural Center under the terms and conditions Louise Lincoln Kerr spelled out in her will.

The Commissioners discussed and agreed not to vote approval of the “final draft.” Instead, the Commission instructed city staff to further negotiate the easement to add usage, parking lot, and interior protection. (Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center asked for these elements in February, but city staff added only the Rose Lane/private drive access and 50-year coverage.)

The morning after the meeting, major reportage was printed in the Arizona Republic (daily Valley section, not just Scottsdale zone) and East Valley Tribune. You may view the articles at http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/0314sr-kerr0315-ON.html and http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/111308

Historical panel says Scottsdale’s Kerr easement plan needs more work

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] — Scottsdale’s Historic Preservation Commission said this week that Arizona State University would have to do a better job on a conservation easement for the Kerr Cultural Center. After listening to artists and residents blast the reputation of ASU for historical conservation, the commissioners delayed a vote for the easement Thursday and sent it back to the negotiating table. “The more we can get into this document the better,” said Commissioner Rob Viergutz.

The commission began talks with ASU in January, after the university said the city couldn’t legally impose historic zoning on state property. But a score of artists and residents from around the Valley argued that ASU could not be trusted to allow the 50-year-old center to continue its role as an arts venue. That was the intent of composer and arts patron Louise Lincoln Kerr, who bequeathed the site to ASU in 1977, her descendents argued. “It was her wish that this continue in perpetuity,” said Dorothy Lincoln Smith, who spoke to her sister-in-law just before her death.

Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble said that ASU has been making it difficult for artists to perform there. “I think it’s very clear that ASU is trying to terminate what Louise Lincoln Kerr intended when she donated it,” Trimble said. “It’s not the ASU I used to know.” Paul Berumen, ASU’s director of local government affairs, said the proposed easement would guarantee the buildings and that the university has no plans to alter the site at 6110 N. Scottsdale Road. “This easement gets us to the point where we are able to work as partners to protect the site,” Berumen said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Republic.]

Next step in helping to preserve Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center

The next important meeting to put on your calendars will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at One Civic Center, 7447 E. Indian School Road, when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote on a conservation easement. Patricia Myers, Chair, and Kathy Howard, Co-chair, of the Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC) hope that a large number of Kerr supporters attend to sign comment cards and speak in favor. The proposal will then go to City Council, date to be determined.

Positive progress is being made to preserve the two historic adobe buildings of the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Although the one-year-old grassroots organization, CCKCC has aggressively pursued Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning from the City of Scottsdale, another designation was proposed and appears to be stronger for protection. It is called a Conservation Easement. In contrast, historic overlay zoning would have had no strength because a state entity has sovereignty that a city cannot usurp.

Meetings to discuss the conservation easement provisions have been held between the city and representatives of Arizona State University, which owns and operates the cultural center. At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission, 11 specific provisions were discussed. The key point has the easement running with the property and will apply to future owners. That means if the Kerr were sold by ASU, the buildings could not be destroyed. However, the easement does not cover the function of the Kerr as a cultural center.

At the February 14 meeting, we asked for more precise provisions: include the usage, include the parking lot, designate length of time of easement coverage and provide for roadway accessibility. These are being presented in a future meeting between the city and ASU.

FYI, a rezoning sign on the property immediately adjacent to the Kerr last year prompted the organizing of CCKCC. The organization now has 500+ signatures in support of the Kerr remaining as a functioning arts center. That rezoning issue (immediately north for condos and an enlarged conference center) is in limbo because the city of Scottsdale asked for changes to the plans, which have not been made. But the rezoning request has not been withdrawn.

Also, ASU restored the adobe exterior and the doors last fall, but no funds were available for interior improvements, hence a benefit event at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 24, with musicians and staff working without pay. Funds from the performance and a silent auction will go toward interior enhancements. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and dessert, coffee and tea, with wine and beer for purchase. Tickets are $65 reserved, $50 general admission. If you are interested in attending this concert of classical, Renaissance, and jazz (Gershwin), call the Kerr at 480-596-2660.

Status report on efforts to preserve Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center

[Source: Patricia Myers, CCKCC chair; Kathy Howard, CCKCC co-chair] — A total of 42 friends of Kerr Cultural Center submitted comment cards favoring preservation at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). Of those, 21 spoke in favor of the proposal. No one was opposed. ASU’s representative asked for a continuance to propose an alternative to historic preservation overlay rezoning, called a preservation easement. Research reveals that this designation might be stronger than the usual HP rezoning. We are optimistic that a properly written document could ensure Kerr continuing as the arts and cultural venue that Louise Lincoln Kerr envisioned when she willed it to ASU in 1977.

The HPC instructed city staff to meet with ASU representatives and work out a satisfactory agreement within 60 days. If this is accomplished, there will be a progress report to HPC next month, with the final report and vote at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, when we will again need support. If the vote is in favor, the issue will go the Scottsdale Planning Commission, then to the Scottsdale City Council in late spring, where we again will need attendance support of 100 or more.

We are appreciative of support for our grassroots organization, Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC), particularly from the more than 250 people who signed our petition on behalf of the preservation of this remarkable jewel in the desert. We continue to collect signatures, so if you wish to support the cause, click here to download, complete, and send in the petition.

CCKCC was formed out of concern about increasing development and a rezoning request in the immediate area of the Kerr center. We began meeting in February 2007 as an advocacy group for supporting and preserving the unique identity and original purpose of this remarkable and historic adobe arts center — a facility without peer or parallel. Louise Lincoln Kerr, daughter of John C. Lincoln, was a gifted musician and arts advocate who built the adobe performance studio in 1959, nearly 50 years ago. Her will specifically expressed her fervent wish for the center to continue in its original purpose. The Kerr is renowned as a unique cultural venue, attracting people from throughout the Valley and across Arizona, the Southwest, and West Coast. Those who attend come from as far as Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Sun Lakes, Chandler, Carefree, Flagstaff, Prescott, and Tucson.

CCKCC will continue to monitor the progress of the discussions for preservation easement, and keep you in the loop as elements develop.