By Patty Talahongva
Construction is under way at Sunbrite Center to renovate the space left vacant after a fire burned the historic Richardson’s Cuisine of New Mexico restaurant several years ago. Moving into the renovated space will be current shopping center tenant, Poor Little Rich Girl. The resale boutique’s owner, Katherine Fournier, says she’s thrilled because it will double her space, giving her a total of 2,400 square feet.
Last year MPB Realty Services, the owners of the property at the northwest corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home Road, announced that Baby Kay’s Cajun Kitchen would be moving into the space and construction would include a second story. However, after construction delays brought about in part by parking concerns, the owners of Baby Kay’s ended up relocating to Mesa instead. “We mutually decided with Baby Kay’s it wasn’t a good location for them,” said Michael Bueker Sr., one of the partners at MPB. “We had a lot of push back from one of the tenants” about the already tight parking situation at the center.
Calls to reach Baby Kay’s for comment were unsuccessful; however, on the restaurant’s Facebook page they posted on March 20, “Phoenix has turned out NOT to be our ideal location. Lots of complications poured in the (sic) over the last 6 months. And way to many red flags. Mesa will be our home.” Baby Kay’s actually had a “soft opening” in Mesa on Feb 21.
Parking has been an ongoing issue at the corner and several current tenants have expressed frustration but declined to be quoted for this story.
Buekers says MPB has addressed the parking concerns. “We completed it (the parking survey), and we’re good to go as far as our current plans. We’ve got plenty of parking.”
One issue was the pool supply company was using some parking spaces for storage. Buekers says there are still a few being used by the company but “it’s gotten a lot better.” He added that once construction is complete it will free up a few more spaces currently blocked off for the construction.
As for the planned second story, Buekers says instead of retail space they are shifting to housing. “The plan right now is to build two 900-square-foot apartments. Second-story retail has not done very well,” he explained.
Construction has already begun on the ground floor space, and will likely finish before the second story is put in. “We’re at the city on permitting on the second floor,” Buekers said. However, the city does not have any permit requests on record. According to Alan Stephenson, the acting Planning and Development director for the city, the last inspection the city did for MPB Realty Services was for the foundation. It was specifically for the first and second story addition for Baby Kay’s. It passed on July 25.
Buekers says he expects Poor Little Rich Girl to move into the new space by November. He says there already are a few tenants interested in the soon-to-be vacated space, which is the last space available for rent at that corner.