With Borders closing on Mill Ave, Downtown Tempe is losing more of what little it had to offer. While there are many people out there happy to see it go, I am not just yet. It is leaving behind a wake of empty spaces on Mill as it goes. I would love it if Downtown Tempe finally got a grocery store, and what an almost perfect spot. Whole Foods had been opening larger and larger stores in the early 2000's but they realized how these stores underperformed their smaller predecessors and they have recently switched to designing smaller new stores. The space Boarders leaves is 25,000 square feet, the same size as the Whole Foods planned to go in 690 Stanyan in San Fransisco.
Some musings from the blogger at khamm.net.
I don't think that the vacant location in the Brickyard is a good place for a grocery store. Maybe the parking lot formerly known as Long Wong's; but not the Brickyard. Why do I think this? The space is positioned wrong.
A grocery store just doesn't work well at the community center of the type that is Mill Ave--unless it functions like an open air fruit market/bazaar that I've been talking about. Remember IGA? That was perfectly positioned, just a mile maximum from Mill Ave proper and in a magnificent place. Of course, that's dreadfully gone now.
We have a Walgreens on the corner now, which takes up some of the retail slack of the general bric-a-brack that people who live on and near the Ave will be looking for, but it doesn't qualify as a grocery.
There are numerous spaces off of Mill Ave proper that could hold a Whole Foods, or something else, and that niche is wide open. The space that Borders currently possesses, however, is more ideal for another bookstore or some other type of retail outlet. Ideally, though, I think that location should gain some sort of a community central element.
I'd love to see an arcade or a spot to draw in the college students; possibly a cafe and meeting places. I know that we have Starbucks and Coffee Plantation but we don't have any sort of casual entertainment anymore.