Sunday, January 01, 2023

A Lofty Place In History

By Valerie Millett

Thor Heyerdahl embarked on the infamous Kon-Tiki expedition. The Roswell UFO incident happenedIndia and Pakistan became independent nations while the United States of America established the CIA. Ferrari began production of sports cars. The first “instant camera” was born and Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. 

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Arizona, a suspicious fire takes out all but 6 of the city’s electric streetcars and the city begins the process of transitioning to a public bus transit system. Barry Goldwater forms The Phoenix Charter Revision Committee, a new political group. 

 Studebaker’s post-war automobiles nestle into Central’s auto row in a modern building designed by architect W.Z. Smith, complete with a rotating showroom floor meant to dazzle the patrons traveling on Central Ave.  The company would be known as Stewart Motor Co. and a rotating spire above the showroom donned the name. Fifteen cents in your pocket and you had yourself a gallon of gas in 1947. 

Fast forward to the early ’70s and Stewart Motor Co has been replaced by “Circles Record & Tapes” owned by Angela and Leonard Singer. The rotating showroom floor is now used as a spotlighted dancefloor to entice the local teenagers cruising Central. After almost 40 years, the digital age would prove to be the iconic record stores downfall and the shop was closed in 2010. 

For almost ten years the site was a vacant delipidated eyesore until Scottsdale-based “Aspirant Development”, a residential and commercial real estate developer announces plans to build a 19 story, 312-unit luxury apartment complex.  According to Geoffrey Jacobs, a partner of Aspirant, “This is the first high-rise apartment building constructed in downtown Phoenix since the 1950s. The project has been 4 years in the making and is now open for business. This new complex also bears the distinction of having Phoenix’s highest rooftop pool.  

The Stewart (Named after Stewart Motors) 

The Stewart is a pet-friendly property featuring modern studio, one-and-two-bedroom apartments for rent, with 24 unique floor plans ranging from 477 to 1,899 square feet. You can easily visualize what remains of the previous structures, Stewart Motor Co. and Circles Records & Tapes. Part of the original brick wall remains and eventually, an Art gallery will be added on the main floor. 

Apartment homes at The Stewart feature distinctive amenities including expansive private balconies, the latest “smart home” options, abundant closet space, front-loading in-home washers and dryers, contemporary custom-wood cabinetry, quartz countertops, under-cabinet lighting, lofty nine- to 11-foot ceilings, and energy-efficient windows. 

Residents of The Stewart will enjoy access to an on-site concierge, an eighth-floor 24-hour fitness center with open-air sanctuary, gas BBQ grills, entertainment kitchen, bicycle storage and rentals, 24-hour on-demand parcel lockers, resident boardroom, club room lounge and garage parking.

The property’s shimmering rooftop pool and spa, the highest in Phoenix, will afford breathtaking city and mountain views while providing residents with a refreshing oasis from desert temperatures. A restaurant and retail space will occupy part of the property’s 9,000-square-foot ground floor.

Historic Views 

One of the most legendary hotels in Phoenix, the Westward Ho Hotel can be seen from the rooftop pool, directly behind the young man (Kody Foringer) in the image above. Completed in 1928, the building wasn’t truly finished. In the fall of 1940, the Westward Ho received its iconic radio tower and antenna, used to broadcast programs from Arizona’s very first television station. Even when the station relocated, the hotel held onto the antenna, as it had already achieved landmark status. 

In its early days, The Westward Ho Hotel attracted the Hollywood set and several iconic movies were made in and around the property.  In 1961, President John F Kennedy attended a dinner for Senator Carl Hayden and gave a speech on the steps of the Hotel entrance. 

This property was something I had to see. I have a great love and affinity for Roosevelt Row but I have no personal affiliation with this property at all.  I contacted the property manager, Samantha Spidell and explained that I would love to share the history and images of this spectacular new building with my social media audience. The idea was met with great enthusiasm and my camera and I were given carte blanche to roam the property and take notes and photos. The staff at The Stewart were more than accommodating and gracious. 

We made plans to photograph as many of the structures unique properties as we could and my goal was to end up at the rooftop pool to catch the sunset.  We did even better than that, we went one floor above the pool to the roof of the 19th floor and shot the pool images from above. Words cannot even describe the hour or so that went by as we waited for the perfect light to land 19 stories above Central Phoenix. 

 We watched the light rail zip through the grid on the ground level. People walking down below, going about their business as we spied from our lofty perch was surreal. There was an amazing electric vibe that came from the heart of the city. 

On our level, the city sounds were a mere hum and as the breeze picked up on this warm evening as we waited for the light to change. We kept saying to each other, "I can't believe we're sitting up here!" We watched the planes take off and land at Sky Harbor Airport like clockwork. To be among the skyscrapers, feel and be immersed in the "moment" was an incredibly unique experience that I will never forget. 

 As a landscape photographer, I never thought I would get as much out this experience as I did.  I have the same appreciation for the natural world as I do for the unique and iconic structures that began as mere notions in the hearts of men and women who build spectacular cityscapes that leave us spellbound.  We were simply blown away by the experience and it has inspired me to explore new genres and new heights!

Please enjoy the rest of the images and if you liked to tour the building, they do give community tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Contact them at 602 457-5634.

Kitchen and Lounge area off of the pool.

View From The Roof
  One of the patio views facing North


  1. I am absolutely loving your gorgeous blog!I love this blog.Thanks for sharin

  2. Thanks for this amazing article on Wandering On The Edge was Just searching for The Difference Between Asphalt Shingles and a Composition Roof
    and found this amazing website of yours.