The Bashas’ grocery store located at the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and Osborn Road is unique for two reasons: it is the first Bashas’ store ever built in Phoenix, and it is a fine example of midcentury modern design.
However, with much of that center now sitting vacant, save the grocery store itself, and with the Phoenix rental housing market on the rise once again, the property owners are looking to make a significant change. Which may result in that landmark grocery store being partially or even wholly torn down.
The center was once home to a Skaggs/Osco Drug Store and a Chinese restaurant. But both have been closed for some time, and more than 50 percent of the corner is actually occupied by a massive parking lot.
The property owner, G.B. Investment Company/Bashas’ Inc., is requesting to rezone the 6.93-acre site from C-2 (Intermediate Commercial) and P-1 (Passenger Automobile Parking, Limited) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) for a Planned Unit Development to allow for a mix of uses including multifamily residential and retail. The multifamily residential component is planned to be a five-story, woodframed building surrounding a concrete five-level parking structure. This structure is planned to occupy the southern portion of the site along Flower Street.
The balance of the site is planned for multiple new uses such as retail and restaurants.
The Phoenix Historic Preservation Office has recommended that the original Bashas’ building receive Historic Preservation (HP) zoning as part of the PUD application. It is significant for its Midcentury Modern design, and as the first Bashas’ store in Phoenix, advertised as “state’s largest complete food store” when it opened in 1956. The property is featured in the book “Midcentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix 1945-1975,” which was published in 2011.
The Historic Preservation Office has no objection to the removal of the south addition to the Bashas’ building, which was apparently built in 1970 when Skaggs Drug Center relocated from the north end of the building. However, it appears from the site plan that more than just the addition is being removed. The Historic Preservation Office does not support demolition of any portion of the original building, as it will likely make the property ineligible for historic designation.
The developer, while not having committed to retaining and revitalizing the historic-eligible Bashas’ building, has expressed an interest in retaining as much of the building as is feasible if an appropriate tenant and/or tenants can be identified to occupy the space.
The rezoning request was approved by the Encanto Village Planning Committee on Dec. 5 after committee members added several modifications and stipulations, including adding bicycle parking, protecting the mature tamarisk trees along the east property line, paving the alley, and maintaining a turf lawn in the area west of the existing parking area.
It now goes before the Phoenix Planning Commission at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5 in the City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St. The agenda was not posted as of press time; for more information, visit www.phoenix.gov and click on the Public Meeting Notices link. Look for case number Z-65-16 on the Phoenix Planning Commission agenda.