Worth Repeating: Local Newspaper Titan Building Modernist Hideaway

April 30, 2011 | 10:12 AM | Media | By Staff

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Call it the house that classified ads (and Sheriff Joe bashing) built. Yes, sources tell us that the owner of this sleek-yet-woodsy abode featuring million dollar views of the Phoenix skyline is none other than Michael Lacey, the famously hard-nosed editor/co-owner of the Phoenix New Times.

Perched on a rocky rise straddling the Paradise Valley-Phoenix border, this custom manse appears to be at least a $1-2M project. Which, crazy as it sounds, is just a drop in the bucket compared to the approximately $22M in fines Lacey and his Village Voice Media just paid out following a bitter court battle with a rival paper in San Francisco, in what media pundits are calling the Last Great Newspaper War.

After the jump, take in a full slideshow of what 40 years of sticking it to the man will buy you. Plus, learn a little more about how Lacey, an ASU dropout and self-described ‘foul-mouthed son of a sailor,‘ transformed a single newspaper into the nation’s largest chain of ‘alt-weekly’ newspapers once valued at $400M. All while giving away his products away for free.

New Times founders Jim Larkin (left) and Michael Lacey (right) run the nation's largest chain of alt-weekly newspapers

Long story short, Lacey (pictured at right, alongside business partner, Jim Larkin) founded the Phoenix New Times in 1970 after realizing local media were all but ignoring controversial subjects such as the burgeoning anti-Vietnam-war movement. After building its reputation for top-flight investigative journalism and exposing political corruption, the New Times started expanding in 1983 with the purchase of the Westword newspaper in Denver. Now named Village Voice Media after a 2005 merger with the original alt-weekly in NYC, Lacey oversees a mini-empire of 14 newspapers, with a (supposed) readership of some 4 million people in cities stretching from San Francisco to Miami.

Click here to read an outrageously-good profile of Lacey in the New Yorker right as he was about to take the reins at the musty-but-still-revered Village Voice. Here’s just a taste of the classic bon-mots he dropped, Look, a lot of people think I’m a prick. But at least I’m a prick you can understand. I don’t sneak up on you. You can see me coming from a long way away. Like the Russian winter.” Awesome stuff.

That said, even the mighty New Times (and it’s famously aggressive boiler room sales staff) has been struggling the Internet era, especially after a certain guy named Craig single-handedly destroyed its most lucrative revenue stream. Yes, Craigslist and other free online classified ad services have drained away the lifeblood of the weekly freebie newspaper, including those smutty sex personals that traditional newspapers won’t touch. Which is why newspapers ad dollars have been shrinking for five straight years. That said, click here to read how medical marijuana might just save the Phoenix New Times.

Whew. Still with us? Good, because back in Paradise Valley, we hear that renowned local architect, Eddie Jones, designed Lacey’s super-stylish new pad (although this famously friendly, talkative architect got pretty coy when we asked him to confirm anything about the project.) Either way, this sleek home wouldn’t even be Jones’ most impressive project on the block.

Eddie Jones' previous projects include this stunning 30,000-square-foot palace in PV

That honor would belong to the infamous “House of Five Dreams” located just down the hill. This stunning 30,000 square foot palace (pictured at left), features one bedroom, a one-car garage and a massive underground art museum. Click here to see a slideshow from the home’s star turn in the pages of the prestigious Architectural Digest.

Oh, and one last thing. Here’s hoping Michael Lacey isn’t as pissed about us revealing his personal home as Sheriff Joe was when a New Times reporter published an expose revealing his extensive real estate holdings. That little scoop landed Lacey in jail on trumped up charges that were eventually dismissed. Either way, we’re guessing neither us nor Sheriff Joe will be invited over to break bread when the home is completed.

Lacey & Larkin image via Phx New Times




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