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The DeSoto Central Market building in downtown Phoenix has a new owner & a new concept on the way

Posted at 3:28 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 12:56:11-05

PHOENIX — A local developer has purchased the former DeSoto Central Market building in downtown Phoenix and plans to turn it into a new nightlife concept.

Chuckie Duff, the developer behind a handful of Phoenix hot spots -- Cobra Arcade, Gracie's Tax Bar, Rebel Lounge and Gallo Blanco's new restaurant -- told ABC15 late Tuesday that it had "always been a building I've been interested in," adding that he had looked at it once for another concept before it became DeSoto Central Market, which ultimately closed in 2018.

Duff, who owns EQ Arizona, bought the building in November. When he looked before, the building was only available for lease. He prefers to own the building. So, he took another look after DeSoto closed.

"It checked all the boxes again for the concept that I'm being vague about," Duff said. Because he is still working on agreements with potential partners for his project, which Duff adds will all be local, he said he was unable to release too many details about the project, echoing comments he told to the Arizona Republic, who was first to report the news on Tuesday morning.

He hopes to be able to reveal more information in the coming weeks.

So, what do we know about Duff's project?

On the application to the state liquor board, the business name is "Life." Duff referred to that as a "working title" in a phone interview with ABC15, but said it is one concept that will take over the entire building and, hopefully, "bring something to the area that's not there."

The building could be considered prime real estate at the corner of Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue. It is within walking distance of a light rail platform and near the epicenter of Phoenix's "Roosevelt Row" and monthly First Friday art walk.

In terms of construction, Duff said in a text, "we're keeping a lot of what's there structurally, but the interior look/finish will be quite different" compared to its DeSoto market days. He said the plan is to keep one kitchen, which means we know food will be part of the new concept.

DeSoto Central Market opened in 2015 and was a sort of a restaurant incubator for up-and-coming chefs. When it abruptly closed last August, it was unexpected.