For Sale: Arizona’s Oldest American Legion Post

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 8:13am

front of building and parking lot
Christina Estes/KJZZ
In 1920, a charter member of Post 1 deeded his property to the city of Phoenix in exchange for leasing it to the post for 99 years.

Phoenix will give developers a chance to bid on Arizona’s oldest American Legion Post.

Nearly 100 years ago, a charter member of American Legion Post 1 gave the city his land at the southwestern corner of Seventh Avenue and Polk Street. In exchange, the post would get a 99-year lease. Now, Phoenix wants to redevelop the 1.68 acre site.

Before council members voted last week to put the property on the market, they heard from Patrick Mayes, a former Luke-Greenway American Legion Post 1 Commander.

“It has always been the position of the American Legion that adaptive reuse of our current facility would be preferable. It is something the Legion wholeheartedly is behind as an option,” he said. “However, it should remain just that — an option. To make it a mandate or restriction, we believe, limits our opportunity.”

flag flying half staff
Christina Estes/KJZZ
American Legion Post 1 in Phoenix has a 150-foot flagpole. On June 4, 2019, the flag flew half-staff in honor of Virginia Beach shooting victims.

Some people argued the historic building should be preserved, but that will not be required in the request for proposals (RFP). Instead, the site will be listed as either for sale or for lease with consideration for elements of the building being preserved or reused.

“Under the concept to activate the site, additional points would be given if they maintain features and portions of the site,” Christine Mackay, Phoenix Economic Development director, told the council.

The RFP will require at least 3,000 square feet for community support services for veterans and at least 60% of housing units for lower-income renters with a preference for veterans. Mayes said he had been assured Luke-Greenway American Legion Post 1 will have the opportunity to offer input on the RFP’s that are submitted and the post endorses the process.

“We have the rare chance to become an example to the rest of the nation for what can be achieved when local government, community service and neighborhoods come together to do something truly special,” he said.

Last September, the city approved a lease extension so the Legion can celebrate its 100th anniversary in its original location next year.