Uptown Plaza

Eat Your Build-Out

Written by Niki D’Andrea & Craig Outhier Category: Valley News Issue: February 2016
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Explore locavore dining and revered national restaurants at these Valley food hubs.

Uptown Plaza
Location: 252 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Quick Pitch: Classic retail resurrected as mid-century modern dining mecca
Owners: Vintage Partners
Opened: November 2015
When Del Webb built the original Uptown Plaza in 1955, most of the anchors for the shopping destination were retailers like Bostrom’s department store and Porters apparel. But since getting a major facelift last year, the plaza is banking on dining as the big draw – Sam Fox’s Flower Child was the first restaurant to open, with New York City-based Shake Shack and popular Chicago pie joint Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria scheduled to follow by spring 2016. AJ’s Fine Foods will keep its footprint in the Plaza, alongside tenants like Bikram Yoga Phoenix, longtime Uptown Plaza retailer Relax the Back (which sells ergonomic furniture), and boutique clothing store Muse Apparel. More restaurants and retailers are expected to open throughout the year, which shouldn’t affect what Muse Apparel owner Victoria Lindley describes as Uptown’s “a little like Mayberry” vibe.    

The ColonyThe Colony
Location: 5540 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
Quick Pitch: Mixed-use development of exclusively local businesses
Owners: Western Vertical Holdings
ETA: Early 2016 (phase I); mid-2016 (phase II)
Located just south of Sam Fox’s The Yard and its cluster of popular restaurants, The Colony will amplify the
area’s already-strong culinary cachet with outposts of Valley restaurants Herb Box, Pure Sushi and Sumo Maya, and the debut of gastropub Stock & Stable. Local shops like glasses guru Framed Ewe and the latest spokes-focused stop for beer-loving bicycle enthusiasts, Cycle Bar, will help fill out the two-structure property. The first building (phase I) will be a renovated structure that dates back to the 1950s. “It’s probably one of the coolest urban infill developments in town,” says Swen Anderson, vice president of LGE Design Build, which oversaw the renovations. The second building (phase II) will be a newly constructed, 8,122-square-foot structure with a plethora of parking spaces – a big selling point for this bustling culinary cruise strip. “It has great parking,” Anderson says. “Seventh Street has parking issues for everyone, including The Yard.”

Crown on 7thCrown on 7th
Location: 5813 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
Quick Pitch: Four new dining spots on the white-hot Seventh Street eat-and-drink drag
Owners: DV-DWG 7th Street
Opened: November 2015
Buzz Gosnell remembers visiting the old Crown Imports building as a teenager. “There was a boxing gym [in the building] I used to visit,” the Kierland Commons creator recalls. “I love this area. I want to help it thrive.” So he jumped at the chance to work some adaptive reuse magic on the 20,000-square-foot, H-shaped complex. In lieu of drab, Nixon-era storefronts, Gosnell and partner Niels Kreipke envisioned a hip retail commune for local owner-operators. Okra and four retail stores debuted when the Crown opened last year; in the spring, Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen will join them. Gosnell is mum on the other two impending restos – but says they won’t include boxing rings.

Location: 1475 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
Quick Pitch: Shop and dine in a mixed-use utopian “innovation center”
Owners: Wetta Ventures
ETA: January 2017
Urban infill guru David Wetta – the fellow who turned an old church into a haute taco hall at Osborn Road and Seventh Street – has special things planned for futuristic live-work-learn, public-private campus SkySong. The food pod will include four restaurants in a 12,000-square-foot indoor structure, accented with a 45-foot steel cantilevered shade canopy over a large patio and grassy open space. There will also be a house-size “edible garden” of native Arizona crops. Wetta can’t name the “very experienced local chef-driven operator” with whom he’s negotiating to be the anchor tenant, but we could see farm-to-table nut Pavle Milic (FnB) really ripping it up. Just sayin’.