preservationSaving the Sheriff

On February 28, 1908, famed lawman Pat Garrett was gunned down just off a road outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. The killer of Billy the Kid died as a result of a land dispute—although the man who shot him, Wayne Brazel, was acquitted on a claim of self-defense. About 30 years later, Garrett’s youngest son Jarvis put a marker at the death site: a rock with a cross on it surrounded by cement, in which “P. Garrett” and “Feb 1908” were scrawled.

Jump ahead nearly 100 years. A developer plans a huge project that could more than double the size of Las Cruces over the next 20 years. It would also obliterate the Garrett memorial. But local citizens and Old West buffs have come to the rescue, forcing the developer to preserve the site. Details are sketchy, and the agreement is tentative. Still, it looks like a historic spot will be saved for posterity—and visitors will get the chance to see a son’s simple monument to his father.

A Grey Area

FOR SALE: Hilltop property on SoCal island. Magnificent views of the ocean and nature preserve. Hopi-style architecture built in 1926, now used as inn. $16.9 million. All offers welcome.

Okay, so the price tag seems a little high—but hey, this is California’s Catalina Island, which means location, location, location. Oh, and incidentally, the house was built by famed Western writer Zane Grey, an avid fisherman, who found Catalina a perfect base for deep-sea expeditions.

For the past 30 years, the building has been the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel in the resort town of Avalon. But the owner wants to get out of the business. The real estate broker says the price is negotiable, and he would like to find a buyer who’ll keep the place. But developers are showing interest in the site, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll preserve the building.

The property is a half acre, so there’s room to build some condos without tearing down Zane’s place. At this point, the whole deal is in a grey area. 310-510-0966

Catching the Last Train

Walter P. Gray III loved history—especially if it was on rails

He spent more than two decades at the California State Railroad Museum. Gray was the man who launched the museum’s Sacramento Southern Railroad excursion line, which runs from Old Sacramento on down the city’s riverside. More than 60,000 riders each year enjoy it.

In 1998, Gray was named California State Archivist and spearheaded the effort to digitize historical records. In 2004, he joined California State Parks as chief of archaeology, history and museums. He drew up plans to make cultural artifacts more accessible to the public and safer from damage during flooding or other natural disasters.

Walter Gray was only 54 when he died of cancer on May 8, 2007. For most folks, he is an unsung hero in the worlds of history and preservation. But countless people, present and future, will enjoy the fruits of his labors. Much like the men who built the railroads he loved so much, Gray built a legacy that will last.


Star Power

The stars shone in Telluride, Colorado, in May. Their deep pockets bought some 250 acres just outside town, preventing a large commercial project from becoming a reality.

The story goes back to the 1980s, when California businessman Neal Blue purchased the Valley Floor property for $7 million. He planned to develop the area, an idea that alarmed residents of the tony ski town. In June 2002, Telluride voters approved a measure to preserve it as open space. A judge ruled that Blue had to be reimbursed to the tune of $50 million. The town set a deadline of May 11, 2007, to raise the cash.

Anyplace else, that amount would probably be out of reach. But folks like Tom Cruise and Daryl Hannah are part-time residents—and they ponied up big bucks. Still, the project was more than $2 million short with just a week left. Then Hollywood producer Tom Shadyac, who directed many of Jim Carrey’s hits, wrote a check for almost the entire amount, and the people of Telluride celebrated.

But it isn’t over. Blue plans to go to court to block the seizure of the land (is the $50 mil not enough?), which could tie up the deal for years. During that time, however, the land will stay as it is. And stars and common folks will get to enjoy the natural surroundings in the mountains of Colorado. 970-728-8256 •


Tempe Restaurant Sale Gets Good Review

Let’s face it—the terms “developer” and “preservation” usually fight each other … but there are exceptions.

Case in point: Monti’s La Casa Vieja Restaurant in the Phoenix, Arizona, suburb of Tempe. The adobe building, constructed in 1873 by city father Charles T. Hayden, was the first Anglo-built home in the area. It’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1994.

In recent years, the neighborhood has become an exclusive address in Tempe, making the value of the property skyrocket. Frankly, the Monti family, which has pumped more than a million dollars into the place since buying it in 1954, has felt the pressure to sell. But they’ve taken a creative approach to finally doing so.

The buyer, 3W Companies of Phoenix, has agreed to preserve the restaurant and building. In fact, the Montis will still run the operation—and use some of the sale proceeds to upgrade the kitchen and build an outdoor patio. In return, 3W can develop the rest of the 2.5 acre property. The sale will be finalized this fall; construction starts in about two years.

So all involved get their cake and eat it too. 480-967-7594 •

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