The Sacred Heart Church of Phoenix will remain in operation even as the land around it is developed for a mixed-use project.
Members of the Phoenix City Council have given their approval to a proposal that will allow the nonprofit Chicanos Por La Causa to develop some 35 currently vacant acres at the northeast corner of Buckeye Road and 16th Street.
As part of the deal, the city will allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, which had earlier sold the property to Phoenix, to keep the church open.
The plan passed by the council additionally calls for the 80,000 square-foot construction of a new headquarters for Chicanos Por La Causa, a statewide community development group based in Phoenix.
The larger site will also see the construction of both restaurant and retail space.
The stately brick church was once regarded as the center of the Golden Gate barrio, a thriving Mexican-American neighborhood that was subsequently acquired by Phoenix through eminent domain to make way for the expansion of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
That action in the 1980s saw more than 6,000 residents of the neighborhood moved to other parts of the city, with an excess of 700 small homes eventually demolished. In 1990 the city agreed to keep the church, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, intact.
City officials are hoping that the archdiocese will take steps to restore the church, which was built in the mid-1950s. Should that not happen, it will be transferred to Chicanos Por La Causa, which has vowed to keep the church open.
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