Community members rally to save former Phoenix Public Market cafe building

The building has remained empty ever since, and now it’s in danger of being demolished after its developer recently applied for a demolition permit.
Published: Mar. 12, 2022 at 8:11 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Phoenix Public Market Cafe used to be a popular meeting spot in Downtown Phoenix. But it closed in March of 2020, mainly due to the pandemic. The building has remained empty ever since, and now it’s in danger of being demolished after its developer recently applied for a demolition permit. That’s got some Phoenix residents upset.

“Public’s Market was always crowded,” Preserve Phoenix’s Roger Brevoort said. “In the morning, at lunchtime, and in the afternoon.”

After seeing the cracks in the walls and the outdoor bar area, the memories come flooding back for Brevoort. “Sitting outside and having a drink at four o’clock, and having a place to mingle, or gather, or have informal meetings,” he said. “Lots of different communities or groups could meet at the Public Market.”

If the cafe building gets torn down, Brevoort wonders where in Downtown Phoenix those meetings would happen. And he’s not alone. After new developer Central Fillmore LLC recently applied for a demolition permit, Preserve Phoenix and multiple other organizations wrote letters to the City of Phoenix to show what this area means to Phoenix’s history. Both past and present.

“Downtown residents are saying what’s happening?” Brevoort said. “Why are we losing the downtown that a lot of us worked a long time to retain, to create? And we lived downtown because there were places to go.”

Because the cafe building is over 50 years old, the City of Phoenix was able to put a 30-day hold on any potential demolition. But the city couldn’t protect the building by declaring it historically significant. So that 30-day hold expired in late February.

In a statement to Arizona’s Family, a city spokesperson said, “City staff has communicated the significance of the property to the owner and is engaging with them on redevelopment proposals. While the decision is ultimately up to the owner, the staff is hopeful they will consider other options.”

Brevoort already has some in mind. “An eating facility or assembly facility that would allow people to be in it and be right downtown,” he suggested. “Without it being in the lobby or first floor of one of these high rises.”

Arizona’s Family reached out to Central Fillmore LLC representatives to find out their plans for the property but did not hear back. The City of Phoenix has confirmed that the developer has not yet paid the city for the demolition permit.

Many community members are urging Mayor Gallego to preserve the historic site.
Many community members are urging Mayor Gallego to preserve the historic site.(Arizona's Family)