Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Shutdown of Tucson eatery dents downtown rehab efforts

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Daily Star] -- Even by Rio Nuevo standards, the $12 million restoration of the Historic Train Depot Downtown has never been a huge draw for visitors and shoppers. Now its star tenant — lured by the city with heavily subsidized rent and taxpayer-funded renovations — has closed its doors indefinitely and is considering suing the city because road construction Downtown hurt business. The restoration was supposed to attract offices, shops, a museum and restaurant — and most importantly, people — to the depot. Central Bistro's closing leaves the depot with a collection of offices and a rental car agency.

Sonia Economou, co-owner of Central Bistro, which opened inside the depot in early 2006, said the restaurant closed its doors because of the construction of the Fourth Avenue underpass and open trenching along Toole Avenue in front of their business. "We can't get people to understand we're there and open," Economou said. "We're losing money staying open." Economou said the Fourth Avenue construction "alone has been pretty devastating to us," but the trenching on Toole is what got the restaurant considering legal action against the city. "Our lawyers are looking at it," Economou said. "We feel deceived by what was happening down there. The Toole Avenue construction was a slap in the face."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Kelly Presnell, Daily Star.]