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Future of Arizona State Fairgrounds, buildings under review

In this October 16, 2016, photo, the State Fair midway is shown in full color at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The future use of Arizona's aging fairgrounds and the structures on the property are being studied by state officials, volunteer design specialists and members of the public in a series of planning sessions at the site. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In this October 16, 2016, photo, the State Fair midway is shown in full color at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The future use of Arizona’s aging fairgrounds and the structures on the property are being studied by state officials, volunteer design specialists and members of the public in a series of planning sessions at the site. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The future use of Arizona’s aging fairgrounds and the structures on the property are being studied by state officials, volunteer design specialists and members of the public in a series of planning sessions at the site.

“We want to make sure that we are looking at all possible options for that site and its buildings,” Arizona’s State Historic Preservation Officer Kathryn Leonard said March 7.

Moving the fairgrounds from central Phoenix is one of many options, said Leonard, and allowing some mixed use development to create income from the site when it isn’t being used for fairs and related events.

“It’s not in the best of condition and there is a lot of down time when it isn’t being used,” Leonard said.

The 88-acre site partially bordered by a historic neighborhood is used for the Arizona State Fair and Maricopa County’s fair, along with other events.

The Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board, the state’s historic preservation office and the Governor’s Office were to begin a series of meetings March 8 in the Coliseum at the fairgrounds.

A public tour of the site is set for March 9, followed by discussions on ideas for development of the grounds. After a daylong session March 10, a preliminary report is expected the next day.

A final report will be released in May.

Leonard said her office is especially interested in the historic buildings on the site and the best possible uses for them.

Among those structures is a building constructed in 1938 as the Arizona headquarters of the Works Progress Administration. It is built with an art deco design and has a concrete frame with adobe infill, both considered rare in Arizona.

Four years ago, the building was scheduled to be demolished because of a badly leaking roof, termite damage and a cracking foundation. But a lawsuit by the historic preservation group Preserve Phoenix halted its destruction until alternatives could be explored.

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