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Multifamily Housing Information

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is charged by the City Council with identifying and protecting significant historic resources in Scottsdale. As part of its mission, the Commission worked with City staff to identify the best examples of post World War II multifamily projects built between 1946 and 1965 that tell the story of this important period of Scottsdale history. The Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission plans to place significant buildings and/or collections of this property type on the Scottsdale Historic Register in 2007.


In 2003, the City conducted a citywide survey of multifamily complexes constructed during the post World War II building boom. The goal was to identify and document buildings and districts that could be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Data was collected and analyzed for 368 multifamily complexes built between 1946 and 1965 within the current City boundaries.

To determine eligible properties for listing on the Scottsdale Historic Register and NRHP, research was conducted and a report compiled describing the influences that shaped the way apartment complexes were built in the postwar era. Using Maricopa County Assessor's records the physical characteristics of 368 multifamily complexes in Scottsdale were analyzed to determine the historic development pattern and distinct architecture of post World War II multifamily housing. The study included multifamily apartment projects that were originally located in unincorporated areas of the county and properties that were originally built as apartments but later converted to condominiums. Excluded from the study were properties originally built for use as town homes or condominiums. Also excluded were small infill multifamily projects (2-4 units) that were built on the fringes of single-family districts, which demonstrate larger residential subdivision development practices of the period. Using information from the Assessor, field reviews were conducted to determine individual building condition, the degree of intact historic architectural features (character-defining features), and to photograph and document the properties. Because of the large number of eligible multifamily housing projects, potential candidates were held to a high standard. Buildings that physically demonstrated the important historic and architectural trends of the period were determined to be eligible for listing. Buildings that had substantial alterations to their character-defining features were deemed ineligible. The report detailing the selection process can be found at Scottsdale Postwar Multifamily Housing Survey (pdf / 659 kb / 30 pg).

The public process to go from identification of eligible properties to placement on the Scottsdale Historic Register includes several steps. The complete process is shown in Steps to Zone Property HP and Place on Register (pdf/18 KB/1 pg).


Historic Context:

The broad historic context for postwar multifamily projects can be broken down into six specific themes. Three themes for postwar multifamily projects relate to specific events and three themes relate to design and construction methods. The three historic themes are Growth of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Housing Practices in Scottsdale, and the Development of Tourism Industry in Scottsdale between 1947 and 1965. The architectural themes relate to the overall design of the multifamily housing projects and specific architectural styles that were used. The architectural themes include Multifamily Housing Project Design Evolution, Multifamily Housing Project Design, and Multifamily Housing Project Architectural Styles between 1946-1965.

Some of the prominent multifamily project styles found in Scottsdale include Ranch, International, and Contemporary. The Ranch style is characterized by sparse decoration, low-pitch roofs, and a rectilinear or "L" plan. The International style is distinguished by geometric massing and flat roof forms, and the Contemporary style features front facing low-pitch gable roofs. Buildings of all three styles often featured dramatic entries, which were incorporated into the design as part of an ongoing marketing campaign to attract renters. The report detailing the historic importance of postwar multifamily housing in Scottsdale can be found at Scottsdale Postwar Multifamily Housing Survey (pdf / 659 kb / 30 pg).