A proposal that could bring a popular Valley restaurant to a strategic downtown Mesa site is gaining steam.
Avalon Investments owner Scott Whittington is proposing demolishing the building at 51 and 55 E. Main St. adjacent to the Mesa Arts Center and constructing a new two-story building with a restaurant, possible wine bar, retail stores and offices.
A City Council subcommittee voted 3-0 Thursday to forward a recommendation in favor of the proposal to the full council, which is expected to vote July 11 whether to enter into negotiations with Whittington. The proposal — one of two being considered by the city — also has received support from the Downtown Development Committee and a city-organized review panel.
Whittington, whose company is based in Albuquerque, N.M., has proposed purchasing the property for $300,000 — which is $700,000 less than the city paid for the land in 1999 and 2000 — or leasing the site for $16,500 per year. He is also asking the city to pay the estimated $48,000 demolition cost.
Arcadia Farms owner Carolyn Ellis said she is interested in the site and has talked with Whittington, but no commitment has been made.
The Scottsdale-based restaurant specializing in sandwiches, salads and bakery items also has locations at the Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum in central Phoenix and the Desert Botanical Garden. The company opened the City Bakery in downtown Phoenix three weeks ago and runs a full-service catering business. Ellis said Arcadia Farms would need to obtain the arts center’s catering contract to move forward with the restaurant.
Whittington envisions a restaurant with a patio on the first floor facing the arts center, and possibly a wine bar with a balcony on the second floor. The proposal calls for six retail locations on the ground floor with office space on the second floor.
A second proposal was filed by a company headed by former Councilman Bill Jaffa and his wife, Joanne, who were looking to open Benedict’s — a self-described premier nightclub and restaurant. BJJ Events and Entertainment offered to pay $50,000 for the building. A call to BJJ Events and Entertainment was not returned. A third proposal was rejected by the city because officials said it did not meet the filing deadline and was incomplete.