[IN-DEPTH] Destroyed Phoenix neighborhood’s ‘last standing icon’ creates rift among groups seeking rebirth

East Elevation, Sacred Heart Church, Former Barrio Golden Gate

By Brenna Goth | The Republic

historic brick church just west of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport stands as the last physical reminder of a neighborhood turned to dust by the city. Vacant for decades, the old Sacred Heart Church now finds itself at the crossroads of politics, religion and community in some of Phoenix’s earliest Latino barrios. The building is a literal island near 16th Street and Buckeye Road, boarded up and fenced off among acres of empty parcels. It used to anchor the Golden Gate barrio settled by primarily Hispanic residents in the early 1900s.

The city destroyed the neighborhood roughly 30 years ago by buying land and relocating thousands of residents to make way for airport expansion.

Neighbors lost their houses but fought to save the 1956 church many say is still a symbol of the solidarity there.

Earlier this month, Phoenix finally took a major step to redevelop the area.

Emotions ran high at a meeting where the Phoenix City Council fast-tracked approval to start exclusive negotiations with the non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa to lease 28 acres of land, including the church.

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