The Mesa City Council will have the final say on whether or not a controversial beachthemed nightclub gets to move into a partially vacant outlet mall on the east side.
But even if Hurricane Bay does not make the cut, property owners still plan to convert the once-busy mall into a bustling entertainment complex.
John Filli, the senior vice president of the real estate firm NAI Horizon, said that Infinity Mesa LLC, which owns the property, is actively trying to recruit rock gyms, restaurants and several retail outlets to set up shop inside the old Factory Stores of America building at Power and Baseline roads.
“It’s an entertainment venue, and we’re trying to make it a family type of thing,” Filli said.
Filli said the three men who own the building plan to spend an additional $5 million to $6 million to dress up the interior of the mall, and they also are considering adding a total of 60,000 square feet onto the building.
Filli’s firm is talking to retailers that sell small backpacks for skaters and the firm also is speaking with Black & Decker about possibly putting in a small outlet store there.
The plan is to shift existing and new retail tenants to the west side of the building and leave the east side for more entertainment-oriented tenants such as Hurricane Bay, rock gyms and restaurants. Right now, there is about 169,000 square feet of leasable space in the building and Hurricane Bay would only take up about 20,000 of that, he said.
The Hurricane Bay nightclub has been at the center of a neighborhood controversy ever since its two owners unveiled their plans to seek a council use permit so they can open inside the old mall at a neighborhood meeting earlier this month.
Within a day, a resident launched a Web site and soon began distributing fliers and lawn signs urging others to fight the club. The residents say they don’t want a large club so close to their homes, and they fear it will bring drunken drivers, drug abuse and other undesired behavior.
The fight is getting so nasty, in fact, that Filli said he was threatened by an angry resident at a homeowner’s association meeting last week. Filli said a man told him he was going to slash his tires. A police officer at the meeting escorted the man out of the building, and later let him return, according to police.
Later, the police asked if Filli wanted to be escorted to his car for his own safety.
“I said I can handle myself perfectly well, but if you want to escort me out there, I’ll gladly accept it,” Filli said.
Teri Killgore, the acting economic development director, said her office has received a handful of insulting phone calls from angry residents, although none of the comments rose to the same level as the threat made to Filli.
“They can disagree with the concept, but they have to be respectful that someone is trying to do something positive,” Killgore said.
While the Hurricane Bay owners prefer to open a nightclub at the proposed location, Killgore said she planned to meet with Councilman Scott Somers on Thursday to discuss other potential sites in Mesa.
But Filli said he does not believe there are a lot of options out there and that the owners have already searched all over the south East Valley. Many spots just don’t have the right amount of parking.