The Bottom Line: Taco Bell makes run for downtown Mesa’s west border - East Valley Tribune: Business

The Bottom Line: Taco Bell makes run for downtown Mesa’s west border

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 5:36 am | Updated: 9:27 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It looks like Mesa will replace a Chevron with a Taco Bell on a prime intersection that serves as the western gateway to downtown.

Despite loftier goals to redevelop the northeast corner of Main Street and Country Club Drive into more highintensity uses like flats or high-rise offices with specialty retail outlets, the fast food giant will build a new restaurant to replace an older one just a block north on Country Club.

The site was previously home to a Chevron service station that operated there for more than 20 years.

Tom Verploegen, executive director of the Mesa Town Center Corp., a private, nonprofit organization that promotes, markets and manages downtown, said the site didn’t draw much interest.

"There were a couple of inquiries just in general, but nothing in terms of somebody saying "Hey, I want that corner,’ " he said.

"If you would have said what’s your druthers longterm, I would have said you’ve got a street that’s underutilized on Morris and it would have been nice to do something like the Bank One project there, or Wells Fargo, or the new fire station, to have a larger, more intense development that makes a nice statement for an entry into downtown. That’s not what worked out."

Meanwhile, a longtime Travelodge returns to the center of the East Valley’s largest city.

Nearly a year ago, the Travelodge on the southwest corner of Country Club and Main lost its franchise agreement and the Sleepy the Bear emblem on its sign was removed.

A company spokesman said the motel is under new management and has a new franchise license.

The Travelodge was Mesa’s first chain motel when it opened in February 1963.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

It’s the $1 million question this week from you faithful Tribune readers.

What in the heck does FBR stand for? The Free Beer Regional? No, actually, FBR is Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, a Washington, D.C.-based investment banker.

The group bought the naming rights for the tournament in late 2003, and last year was the first time the Phoenix Open was known as the FBR Open. In exchange for giving up the name, the tournament received a five-year contract worth between $25 million and $30 million.

When FBR showed up, nobody knew who they were. While it had offices in Irvine, Calif., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, London, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle, it didn’t open one here until November. It’s at Camelback Road and 25th Street.

BOTTOM’S UP

Don’t call Virginia Korte. She’s on an elephant in Cambodia.

The CEO and president of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce is in Phnom Penh visiting, among other things, the Killing Fields.

"She is going to travel by elephant into some of the jungle areas," said Rick Kidder, the chamber’s director of public policy.

"This is a leadership trip. She did one last year into Uganda and Rwanda and toured AIDS orphanages. That affected her very deeply and so she signed up for the second trip as well."

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