The fate of a high-profile corner near downtown Mesa is unclear after the doughnut shop there closed for good.
Venchell, at 405 W. Main St. that was once a Winchell’s outlet, closed less than a month ago, leaving both the northwest and southwest corners of Main Street and Country Club Drive with empty businesses. The lot on the northwest corner has been cleared.
The short existence of Venchell’s at that corner was a tumultuous one. After Winchell’s was bought by Yum Yum Donuts in 2005, the shop’s owner changed the name on the store’s signs by deleting half of the letter “W,” converting the “i” into an “e” and dropping the apostrophe and “s.” Earlier, owner Edward Salib became embroiled in a lawsuit with the city over its sign regulations. A city ordinance prohibited signs from covering more than 30 percent of window area, a rule that Salib claimed violated his First Amendment rights. He eventually lost when the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against him.
Ideally, Mesa officials want to see something more than just a doughnut shop occupy the former site of Venchell, said the city’s town center development specialist Patrick Murphy.
“I would imagine that something would occur there,” he said.
Murphy said some form or mixed-use development involving retail, office and residential would be ideal for the site. But he added that sort of project is unlikely since the site is so small and shares the corner with an adjacent motel.
So far the land’s owner, Edward Salib, has not indicated what plans he has for the area, and the Tribune was unable to contact him.
The intersection, which accommodates about 30,000 cars every day according to the city’s transportation department, was once seen as a potential gateway to downtown Mesa, said Tom Verploegen, president of the Downtown Mesa Association.
Although the group doesn’t consider the west side of Country Club as part of the downtown business corridor, which runs down Main Street, Verploegen said it’s still an important area. The two vacant corners detracted from the aesthetics of the area.
“It’s a negative,” he said. “Again, that’s a busy intersection.”