Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Congress-- Not?


If you follow downtown politics and development/non-development, you know that it has been a rocky road littered with bad real estate deals, broken dreams, and random glimmers of hope.

Last fall there was a big hullabaloo when downtown landlord and developer Scott Stiteler evicted 3 businesses (Tooley's, Preen, and Metropolis Hair) and 4 galleries (Dinnerware, Firestone, Rocket, and Central Arts [above]) on Congress to make way for a 7000-square-foot sports bar owned by Mr. An of Sakura fame.

I'm sure, at the time, Stiteler thought that Mr. An would be a more solid tenant than these funky small businesses and galleries, but that Congress Street gallery row-- coordinated for the most part by David Aguirre of Dinnerware Artspace-- created a very popular art scene and drew large crowds downtown to view rotating exhibits (1,2,3,4, 5, 6, 7).

Construction-- or destruction, actually-- started in the spring. Walls were knocked down to make way for the glittering new sports bar. The Arizona Daily Star trumpeted Mr. An's move downtown.

Now, construction appears to be stalled. Word on the street is that Stiteler is stuck with an empty shell with dirt floors, no tenants paying rent, and no Mr. An.

As Joni Mitchell sang, You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. You paved paradise and put up a parking lot..

Sept. 18, UPDATE: I received e-mails from Stiteler and Councilman Steve Kosachik on this story. According to Stiteler, construction and renovation inside structures on 200 block of Congress Street continues. He said that An and others are interested in the space but would not be more specific regarding future tenants. No time frame for completion was offered. Apparently, when the 1912 structures were gutted, they were found to be in rougher shape that anticipated. Watch for further developments on this story..

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