Mesa has ordered three appraisals of city-owned property next to the Mesa Arts Center to help negotiate a deal that could bring a new restaurant and stores to the prime downtown site.
The first appraisal, however, incorporated not only the 15,295 square-foot site at 51 to 55 E. Main St., but the surrounding common area at the arts center and across the street at the City Plaza building, which houses most of the city’s administrative offices, said Mesa town center development director Shelly Allen.
Allen said that appraisal raised some "red flags," so two more appraisals are being done for comparison. Today, the building is home to the Southwest Shakespeare Company, Metropolitan Youth Symphony and an art studio and gallery.
The Mesa City Council voted in July to enter into negotiations with Avalon Investments owner Scott Whittington, whose Albuquerque, N.M., company had proposed a new two-story building similar in style to the Mesa Arts Center with a restaurant, a wine bar, retail stores on the first floor and offices on the second.
According to the proposal submitted in May, Avalon is offering $300,000 for the site — which is well below the $1 million paid by Mesa to acquire the property in 1999 and 2000.
The proposal also offers an option of paying $16,500 in rent to the city per year. Under both scenarios, the proposal asks the city to pay the $48,000 demolition cost of the existing building.
Whittington could not be reached for comment.
Allen said she hopes to have a deal ready early next year for the City Council to consider.
Mesa Councilman Kyle Jones is a member of the council’s General Development subcommittee that gave unanimous support to the proposal in June.
"As far as I’m concerned, let’s get it done," Jones said.
Two other proposals were also received by the city. One was rejected because it did not meet the filing deadline. Another was submitted by former Councilman Bill Jaffa, who proposed a nightclub and restaurant.