Upscale shopping destination Plaza Palomino will celebrate a grand reopening today and Saturday after a change in ownership and almost a year of renovations costing more than $5 million.

Two new retail stores and two eateries - Maya Palace, T&R Designs, Cafe Francais and Vero Amore - have joined tenants who stayed and got through the construction.

"What's really great about the plaza is they've had some tried and true tenants that were there before the new ownership," said Anna Martinez-Ross, spokeswoman for Plaza Palomino. "So, it's not only about the new tenants, but those who have stayed and survived."

Kim Kuhlemeier, who owns Abstrax Salon and Day Spa in the plaza, has been there for 25 years. She said although it was difficult during construction, it was well worth the end result.

"It's so nice," Kuhlemeier said. "It's still got that nice feeling that brought us here. It's nice that it doesn't feel like a strip mall, and the businesses are all local."

Martinez-Ross said part of the draw is that it's in the center of the city, at North Swan and East Fort Lowell roads, and it's a place you have to walk into. "Generally, once you are in the courtyard, you want to see other things," she said.

The plaza is designed so customers can shop, eat and take care of business in one place. Shops and offices surround a courtyard, where events are often held.

"I like the feel of it," said Olga Sais, owner of T&R Designs. "And the architecture."

Martinez-Ross said the goal of the renovation was to make the plaza complement the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood, and keep the old Tucson look.

Sais opened her jewelry store right before construction started, after moving from her former Swan and Sunrise location. "Construction didn't stop people from shopping," Sais said. "Construction was a minor issue. They found me anyway."

Maya Palace relocated to the plaza, after its former location at El Mercado was sold to make way for a CVS Pharmacy.

The dress shop was able to pick up where it left off, with only a couple of days' interruption, said the store's owner, John Kopplin. Maya opened its doors in the plaza March 29.

"It's worked out to be a good move for us," Kopplin said. "The new ownership here is forward-thinking and into taking care of things."

Maurice and Nicole Cochard, owners of Cafe Francais, said they love the plaza. They opened the cafe in December after closing their former cafe, Le Delice on East Tanque Verde Road.

"We moved here and started brand new," Maurice Cochard said. "When I saw this place, I said, 'we're going to do good here,' " Nicole Cochard added.

The sense of community is one of the benefits of the plaza, said the Cochards.

"We all work together," Nicole Cochard said. "And that's very important."

If You Go

Grand reopening of Plaza Palomino, 2960 N. Swan Road. Ribbon-cutting and live entertainment at 11:30 a.m. today. Farmers market, entertainment and fashion show 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.


Plaza Palomino, built in 1985, was sold last year to WCCP Plaza Palomino LLC, an affiliate of West Coast Capital Partners. Renovations began last summer. The new architecture was designed by Seaver Franks Architects and Barker Morrissey was the contractor.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at or 573-4137.