Fast Food Dump Continues at Seventh Avenue and McDowell, and It Stinks

Categories: Hahnefeld

MyFloristHabitBurger.jpg
Good-bye historic charm, hello burgers and fries.
For those of you lamenting downtown's lack of exciting restaurant choices, please direct your attention for a moment to an arguably more disturbing development going on at ​the intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road -- an intersection that touches the F.Q. Story, Willo, and Encanto-Palmcroft historic districts -- and take a long, deep breath.

Smell that? That's the stench of the fast food dump developers are continuing to take in what could have been one of many different and more interesting solutions of what to do with this historic district intersection. In this case, favoring several national fast food chains over independent restaurant owners as a way to define "progress."

The latest victim? The My Florist building.

Thumbnail image for HistoricDistrictAntiqueMall.jpg
Buildings at the southeast corner of the intersection prior to construction.
In the building along the north side of McDowell leading into Seventh Avenue (and former home of a flower shop, antique market, and the Willo Bakery), the My Florist Café, the onetime popular eatery that closed in the fall of 2010, is currently being gutted for a fourth Habit Burger Grill. The hamburger chain out of California plans to open the location in June, right across the street from Five Guys because, apparently, putting the two burger joints directly on top of each other was out of the question.

The fate of the purple My Florist vintage sign above the structure, according to a source, is being decided by the landlord and the city -- or to put it another way: Oh, shit.

7thAveFF.jpg
View across the street from My Florist building.
The fast food dump started last year when a group of 60-year-old buildings on the southeast corner of the intersection were gutted, repainted, and expanded to make room for the likes of a Five Guys, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jersey Mike's Subs, Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt (a local chain), and the sushi-made-Subway-style eatery, How Do You Roll? So far, only Vovomeena, the coming-soon breakfast eatery from Tuck Shop and Astor House owner DJ Fernandes is the only non-franchised tenant in the bunch.

Prior to that, in the brick building on the southwest corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell, local establishments were replaced by Pei Wei and a Starbucks. At least SideBar, the popular neighborhood bar with a retro-futuristic swank which moved in afterwards, has stuck around to keep things real.

Will the flicker of local flair be enough to keep the intersection from smelling like a grease fryer or should we start waving goodbye to a vanishing piece of the city's history?

Whatever happens, these days, this historic district intersection is feeling anything but -- and that stinks.

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144 comments
JimD
JimD

I have to agree- that corner is no place for franchised trash food eateries - it  IS historic, and the restaurants that ARE allowed should follow that theme (think Mary Coyle)...... It's not the building's fault that it's been allowed to deteriorate over the years. I remember when it was a beautiful corner. Having lived in that neighborhood for almost 20 years, to see what's happened to that corner is heartbreaking. For an example of what that corner COULD  be again, one need look no further that Rossen House downtown. Twenty years ago it looked INFINITELY worse that the 7t h avenue site. It was a dilapidated, unsightly, unsafe firetrap of a flophouse. The city fathers, with foresight and a lot of help, restored it to its original condition and it's beautiful now. And they didn't need any trash food eateries to pull it off. As for the My Florist Sign, the City has a warehouse somewhere where it can be safely stored until it can be put to good use.

Christopher Patrick Lembke II
Christopher Patrick Lembke II

totez! I live in Downtown Mesa. Sure it's cute. Sure it's charming. Do I go to any of the locally owned businesses that are trying to be hip, on Main Street? No. They all pretty much suck, and close at  like.. 6pm! If Mesa were to bring in a successful, yet unique corporate chain, like Habit or even a damn Starbucks, I truly feel it would draw far more people into the area, and create more opportunities for successful independent businesses. 

skin_savage
skin_savage

I truly enjoyed this thread... seriously, I loved all sides of the discussion!  Keepin' it clever and cynical... yet, factual.  :)  I work in the 7th St area (between Thomas and McDowell) ... no, I'm not a dancer at Bandaids... and I love the local business folk, in smart outfits and ties, we get for lunch, and the tattooed and hip that we get for dinner (and a smattering of everything else in between).    It's a great paradigm, but not one that every area contains... for instance, take away the "business" lunches... and, I'd be out of a job.   So, historical or not, chain or not... mass density will always prevail... are we at least slightly glad it's not a BK across from a McDs???   Cheers!

Shane Kennedy
Shane Kennedy

Right?  Most everybody was super passionate & witty & reasonably cynical (and rightfully so...) about all sides of the issues...I only wish we were all sitting around a table having drinks.....

Leon Cabe
Leon Cabe

 Except that most folks here would turn tail and run at the lack of anonymity.  Posting anonymously drives the courage of their comments.

Luju72
Luju72

FYI:  The cupcakes are $2.50 each.  I give the business credit for trying to be a part of revitalizing the intersection.  The rent is probably low.  Why can't you people be supportive?  Does it harm you in any way for that bakery to be where it is?  What purpose does it serve to be so critical?

Fyou
Fyou

 Are they $2.50 each before or after tax? I'd like to know because everything you say seems really, really...really important.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

and what purpose does it serve to harp on endlessly about this 'go local' shit that appears to be in constant need of 'support'?  Like most left wing politics, it never solves anything but just introduces a never ending cost pit.  Did anyone consider what it's going to cost to MAINTAIN the 'improvements' to Grand Ave?

JConrs
JConrs

I guess this desert wasteland of vacant strip malls, newly constructed banks, and unfinished housing developments are what you conservatives mean by "pro-business."

Yeah, we've all felt the disasterous consequences of what Republican "development" really means to our community.  You idiots lecture us on the power of small business but in reality you blood suckers are just looking for a space to build another Chipotle and T-Mobile.  Small business, pro-America, pro-community, huh?  Lying blood suckers.

BreakingGravity
BreakingGravity

Big bummer  :(  I agree with everything you said in your article here.  So sad to see this happening.

Guest
Guest

If I want a hamburger or sandwich, I'll stick with Hamburger Works and McGurkee's. I don't have much use for any of the options on those three corners.

Bill
Bill

I thought that McGurkee's was serving "Urban Italian" these days.  For me the Hamburger Works was pretty long in the tooth 15 years ago but palatable.  Have you tried the Persian round the corner or is it gone.... just like Mary Coyles?

Leon Cabe
Leon Cabe

 Persian Garden is still open serving mediocre, overpriced food.

jaime
jaime

Persian Garden is still there, after having relocated several years ago from 19th ave near the arizona canal

jaime
jaime

Sorry, that is the grand canal

jaime
jaime

A little history from another long time resident: the northeast corner building (once called discount liquors) was changed to Encanto liquors and run by a family named Patel. They also had a dry cleaners and video store and built a nice business because they worked hard. Pat sold out the liquor store and the guy who bought it had no clue and just sold off the inventory before closing. The florist went out of business when a supplier failed to deliver on Valentines day. When it was Willo bakery it was very convenient to get good fresh bread, and I did almost every day. The guy who ran it started expanding very fast, adding a small market and the bistro, then running off the antique store and boom-boom larues, so he could have all the (limited) parking. There is now construction on 5th ave and McDowell where Ted's tasty burger was. Maybe for parking, again I don't know. On the southeast corner, (previously, and maybe still. owned by Tom Horne) the part that is now the sushi place was also a dry cleaners. I saw a permit in the window a few years ago that it was being made into an Italian restaurant. They started working on it but abandoned it, probably from lack of capitalization or maybe clean up of toxic chemicals. I don't know. When it had the antique consignment store the operator shot and killed some homeless man. On the south west corner, & I really miss the Emerald lounge, which was a total dive, one of my neighbors had a photo studio in the space where Sidebar is located. They told him he could stay in the space when the renovation was done but at three times the rent. They come and they go.

Sean
Sean

I took a photo of the Chipotle sign as they were finishing up construction. It said "Burritification in Progress"........there's a pretty direct reference to gentrification, and I imagine the rest of the businesses think just as lightly about it.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Gentrification is a euphemism for the effect of building a "community" : raising rents.

YOU CAN'T STOP IT.  If you don't like it, go live in a communist country.

Threefow
Threefow

Whoa, were's the lamenting for the restaurants (Sens) leaving downtown because there's no patron support? I may not care for the franchises now in my neighborhood but I can't argue with the crowds of diners.

Fyou
Fyou

Yeah, vacant buildings bring SO MUCH MORE integrity to the area! You're so smart!

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

hold on there sir!

we're talking about DILAPIDATED vacant buildings.  They have charm and attract other charming things like prostitutes and mexican gangs.

Fyou
Fyou

Wait a sec!

Vintage sign + Dilapated vacant structure = Unique Historical Momument!

Quick! Somebody call the President of the United States of America!!!!

Fyou
Fyou

 No, she's right. THEIR'S a reason like people like Luju72 need to exist and serve a purpose. It's because THERE the ones who know how to use "there, their, and they're" in THEY'RE proper context.

Man...I learned an important lesson today. Thanks!

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

and you're humanity suffers when you nitpick as a pathetic response to someone who is offering some excellent points.

get a life, loser.

Luju72
Luju72

Fyou,

Prior to adding your super insightful comments to a blog you might want to brush up on the difference between "they're" and "their".  Your credibility suffers when it appears you don't understand basic grammar.

Fyou
Fyou

  fyou1979@gmail.com

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

LOL.  Just extremely talented at getting my point across on the net.  I should really start to put out a shingle and sell my services.  Im not in the development industry but I understand it well enough.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Fyou, can you post a temporary email here?

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

whats funny is, if they did allow development in the area, letting in young professionals and college kids, the result would be exactly what theyre wining about: a artsy bar district that we already see the beginnings of with Crescent Lounge.

it's either complete ignorance driving this or ulterior motives we don't understand.

Fyou
Fyou

You're absolutely right. And to top it off, property value in the Downtown Phoenix area is skyrocketing, because the demand IS there. What better way to clean up, in addition to reviving an area.

Fyou
Fyou

 Are you in the construction/development industry or just a masterful, as well as brilliant troll? And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

perhaps that is their aim, but that has nothing to do with their charter or the reason the city supports them in the first place.  The City of Phoenix never approved housing projects, and some of these areas could be higher-end housing that generates a lot of revenues and activity for the city.

Fyou
Fyou

 Dude...bro...thank you...I have never seen that acronym before. That's awesome.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

"BANANA is an acronym for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything (or Anyone).[7][8] The term is most often used to criticize the ongoing opposition of certainadvocacy groups to land development.[9] The apparent opposition of some activists to every instance of proposed development suggests that they seek a complete absence of new growth. "

Fyou
Fyou

 I think they're aim is to rent out to low-income residents, but you never know...

Either way, business is business and there's a reason why all these niche shops/restaurants/etc. don't last. Because they don't have the demand. And they especially don't have the market demand that'll help cover overhead costs (i.e. Downtown Phoenix rent).

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

did you know that many of the historic houses are actually owned by a non-profit which is funded by the city?  They don't fix them up and rent to gangsters and illegal aliens.  It's unbelievable.

Fyou
Fyou

 Also, they're the same way in Tucson. We're working on building some high rise projects down there and you would not believe the fight the residence are putting up. I swear, if you give a person the right to complain, they'll complain about anything.

Fyou
Fyou

 Because many of the surrounding residents are demanding that said structures maintain the "historical integrity". I am not making this shit up. For instance, a friend of mine owned a house on Hoover near Central and he wanted to add some...um...additions to it, many of which adhered to more modern architecture. Anyways, long story short, it took him nearly half a year to get through all the red tape (because his neighbors wanted to maintain the neighborhoods historic integrity) and he ended up having to build his additions in a way that would not be visible up front (I am not making this up). It's known as "The Hoover House" and it ended up winning an architecture award.

Checkmate, historians!

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

I can't even believe some of these buildings that are classed as 'historic'.  They're like a rectangular cinder block structure with zero features.  Ex. the building where Phoenix Public Market was.

Some of the historic districts are GHETTOS.  Why is the city paying to support this when these areas are SLUMS?

slut
slut

$10 for a gallon of milk?! Well, at least I'm "urban"!

FartBox
FartBox

I can't agree with you enough (see JOBOT).

Luju72
Luju72

Jobot is a great coffee shop staffed by great people, and if you don't like it, then don't go there.  Go to McDonald's or wherever you feel most at home.

Fyou
Fyou

Nice! Problem solved! You're quite the sharp one, Luju72! You must be in Mensa.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

"staffed by great people" - SEE!?  this is where your thinking is totally fucked up!  You want to staff all these businesses with YOUR FRIENDS.  That's why you don't like chain stores.  You have no control over their hiring.  

This shit is like communism for service industry people.

It's just like Phoenix Public Market- the whole thing was about hiring these douchebags and other idiots that are not very employable.  Or buying food items from jerkoffs who don't want to work for corporations.  PLEASE GIVE IT UP.

Personally I like Starbucks because the girls behind the counter don't get away with all this STUPID SHIT you find at places like Fair Trade.  They think working there is something like a fashion show and something like a beauty contest.  Maybe I'm just there for a god-damn coffee, not to look at your skanky ass?

Voice Of Reason
Voice Of Reason

The sign is not going anywhere!  The developers have already asked the city if they can remove it and were given a very clear NO!  It is being restored next year to the tune of $30,000 (paid for by franchise rent revenue)

Bill
Bill

I have lived within walking distance from that corner for a couple of decades.  To many it was loaded with "charm" and great "potential".  The reality was that it was loaded with dilapidated rundown buildings (remember the used appliance store with the wall falling away from the rest of the building?) and was a total eyesore- even if charming.  Buffalo Browns was okay for food but is long gone and the Starbucks/Pei Wei are a great improvement.  

The NE and SE corners have been a sad blemish on the historic neighbors for years.  The revitalization of both corners is tasteful and significantly improves a pathetic status quo.  The historic "charm" is maintained without the historic "blight" of the past two decades.

If Ms Hahnefeld had her way, we would still be saddled with empty shells reducing our property values with historic "charm."  As it is, there is a future and that improvement is spreading both eastward and westward.

Laura Hahnefeld
Laura Hahnefeld

Thanks for the comment Bill, but two burger joints directly facing each other? This is "tasteful"? 

Bill
Bill

Sounds pretty tasty to me and it's certainly better than vacant space. And we have more variety than your story indicates including one of my favorite franchises- Zoe's Kitchen.  Two burger places across the street from each other?  Sounds like a lot of intersections in the valley which don't have the other offerings.

Vacant and run down buildings are never "tasteful".. Sure the adjoining neighborhoods have residents that have higher than average disposable incomes but even they were unable to keep My Florist Cafe profitable. Based on the intersection, I am not convinced that fine dining will ever be in the cards for us, especially until parking is finally resolved on the north side of McDowell.  Pei Wei does a great business day and night but, like it or not, it's a chain.  At lunch the Madmen (and women) of EB Lane will enjoy the variety of upscale fast food that the new restaurants offer and I guess the art school (is it still open?) will contribute customers but you have to remember that this is largely a residential area and I suspect dinner traffic will suffer because of it.I would love to see independent high quality food offerings at this corner and I doubt that the developers turned down any offers from independents who probably can't afford the rent. As a result, we get upscale franchised fast food and infrastructure improvements that local businesses simply could not afford to offer,  Plus we don't have vagrants and panhandlers like we had in the past hitting us up for money and slashing our tires (it happened to me- twice) for not coughing up cash when I was dropping off my dry cleaning.The buildings actually have more of the "charm" of the originals in this incarnation than when the Justice of the Peace was on the SE Corner.   The corner is clean and secure (I don't worry about my better half being hassled if she goes to pick up something for dinner).  It's a whole lot better than five years ago.

Fyou
Fyou

 No, a decrepit, vacant building is "tasteful". Why doesn't anyone comprehend this?!?!

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