Culture News

Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore Is One Step Closer to a Second Location in Phoenix

If all goes as planned in the next 60 days, uptown Phoenix could get its own Changing Hands Bookstore.

According to Cindy Dach, co-owner and general manager of the Tempe-based independent bookstore, an offer made by Jon Kitchell and Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects was accepted for the long-gone Beef Eaters restaurant building on Third Avenue and Camelback Road on Friday.

The building is now in escrow, meaning the building's owner has accepted the Venue Projects offer for purchase and both sides now have 60 days for due diligence (i.e. inspections, making sure the numbers work, and that the location will work for the overall vision) before the deal is official.

"We are extremely hopeful and excited about the possibility of having a second Changing Hands at that location," says Dach. "But at this point there is no way any one of us can say it's a for sure thing."

The building at 300 W. Camelback has a long history in Phoenix. Jay Newton built it in 1961 to house his restaurant dream, Beef Eaters.

The Arizona-style adobe and timber building is more than 17,000 sq ft. Its interior (still visible through the defunct restaurant website's virtual tour) housed two connected dining rooms, a cocktail dining lounge, four private party rooms, a wine cellar, two bars, and four fireplaces. After 45 years of serving classic cocktails and steaks, Newton closed its doors in 2006.

The building's sat empty since. There were false rumors of its return in 2009, and in 2011, the new, Northern California-based owner Tes Welborn put the building back on the market for $1.05 million.

According to Dach -- if all goes smoothly and the paperwork is signed and sealed -- Venue Projects (also behind the building and development of Windsor and Churn in Phoenix) will own the building and will bring Changing Hands in as a retail partner.

The Tempe bookstore and community center started on Mill Avenue in 1974. It expanded, opened a second location on the southwest corner of McClintock and Guadalupe in 1998, and closed its Mill Ave. spot in 2000. Community members (us included) have been begging for a second, Phoenix location ever since.

If all goes as planned, Changing Hands will only occupy a portion of the building and will continue to sell books and host community events and author visits. Dach says other potential restaurant and retail partners are still in the works.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton