It was a small victory for Chez Nous when the City of Phoenix took up sides with all the people who want to save the swanky cocktail lounge at Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road.
Apparently, even the city can't stop the interests that want to turn the site of Chez Nous into yet another mundane corporate chain location.
At a recent Planning Commission meeting, Osco drugstore, which recently purchased the land under Chez Nous, asked that the entire property be rezoned for commercial use. The city recommended to approve this petition, but only if Osco agreed to save Chez Nous, or relocate it. Instead of following the city's recommendations, Osco decided to scrap its petition and only build on the piece of property that is already zoned for commercial use. Rather than co-exist with the 40-year-old cocktail lounge, Osco will demolish it when its lease expires September 30.
"This is simply a real estate deal, where the owner of the property sold it, knowing who he was selling it to," says Karen Ramos, spokesperson for Osco.
Ramos, who is based in Chicago, contends the people of Phoenix are looking for a convenient pharmacy in the neighborhood where Chez Nous is located. Yet the corporation has ignored the pleas of both the Encanto Village neighborhood committee and the City of Phoenix, who say Chez Nous is much more than another real estate deal. Scores of people from the community have argued that Chez Nous enriches the area far more than another drugstore ever could.
"I think they're arrogant," says club owner Bob Pavlovic. "There's no reason why we can't co-exist. But Osco is saying because we have five or six billion dollars in real estate, we have the power."
Pavlovic says he tried to buy the property, but could not compete with the money Osco offered. Because the land owner has already sold the property to Osco, and Chez Nous is a decade shy of historic landmark status, the fate of the establishment is inevitable.
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Bill Scheel, assistant to city council member Phil Gordon, says there is nothing the city can do at this point to save Chez Nous.
"This is about as close to a done deal as you can get," Scheel says. According to Scheel, the only remaining possibility is to move Chez Nous to a new location, which would require private funding.
By the end of summer, Chez Nous will be another rare gem deleted from Phoenix's cultural landscape in order to make room for a strip mall.