A vote by members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to allow the serving of alcohol at restaurants along the Loop 101 corridor is a "huge plus" for the redevelopment of the Scottsdale Pavilions shopping center, according to Marty De Rito, developer of the project.
Tribal members voted 524 to 485 Thursday to allow the alcohol sales, a major departure from previous tribal policy, which permitted alcohol sales only at casinos, hotels and golf courses in the community.
The sales will be allowed in the community's westside retail corridor next to Scottsdale, an area that includes the Scottsdale Pavilions.
Sale for consumption off the premises - for example, from grocery stores - is not allowed. Restaurants that want to sell alcoholic drinks will have to obtain licenses from the tribe and the Arizona Liquor License and Control Department.
Two previous attempts to allow liquor sales at restaurants were voted down by tribal members.
"The third time was the charm," said Zoar Fulwilder, chairman of Community Members for Quality Restaurants, a group that was formed to support the initiative.
He said community members seemed to be more open to the measure this time, with economic benefits outweighing concerns about alcoholism.
Approval of the measure will encourage more and better restaurants to move to the Pavilions and to offices in the corridor and will provide greater tax revenue to the tribal government, Fulwilder said.
"There will be employment opportunities at those businesses and opportunities for community members to open their own restaurants and be vendors to those restaurants," he said.
De Rito said the vote also will help to increase traffic at the Scottsdale Pavilions after 5 p.m., benefiting all tenants in the shopping district.
"If people want to go to a movie and then go to a sit-down restaurant like the Chili's of the world, or Macaroni Grill or Red Lobster or Macayo's, now they will be able to do it," he said.
He also said he hopes to work with community members who are chefs who want to open their own restaurants at the Pavilions.
Charles Carlise, president of De Rito Partners, said his marketing department has not yet tried to recruit new restaurants, so he couldn't say if the economic slowdown will hinder efforts to attract them. But he added "our marketing team will (try to) recruit them immediately."
He also said a few existing restaurants at the Pavilions may decide to sell alcoholic drinks.
The ban on liquor sales has limited restaurant offerings at the Pavilions largely to fast-food outlets and a few family-style restaurants, he said.
The Scottsdale Pavilions has been undergoing a $7 million redevelopment, which included resurfacing of parking lots, repainting buildings and new landscaping. But the district has struggled to retain tenants as Mervyn's and Circuit City have gone out of business, while Best Buy closed its store.
However, Target and Home Depot have extended their leases, Carlise said.