St. Philip's adds new venues

Established clientele, mixed use, location allow Plaza to thrive
2012-12-02T00:00:00Z St. Philip's adds new venuesAngela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 02, 2012 12:00 am  • 

St. Philip's Plaza, the upscale shopping center at River Road and Campbell Avenue, says it's building on its success by adding new venues.

Two new retail stores - Pear Tree House and Creosote Jewelry - and a dance studio - Dansér - have opened in the last couple months, with more moving in soon.

Robert Selby, owner of St. Philip's, calls it a "destination plaza."

"You come here for a sense of place. You come here to enjoy the ambiance.

"It's like a piazza you'd see in Italy with the courtyards and the fountains," he said.

Mary Ann Eastlick, associate professor of retailing and consumer sciences at the University of Arizona, said the plaza thrives because it is a "mixed use center, and that consistently draws traffic to the center."

Many of its stores and restaurants have been successful Tucson businesses for years, with established clientele, which might shop multiple venues during a single visit, Eastlick added.

Also, all of its venues "appeal to a relatively consistent target market," she said.

Those strengths combine with its advantageous location between the Foothills and midtown, Eastlick said.

New restaurants and shops are part of the draw, as well.

"When Union House came to the plaza just over a year ago, it got people coming here who wouldn't have before," said Alek Comyford, property manager at St. Philip's Plaza and owner of Liv Cafe & Bistro.

Here's a guide to the new shops and what's coming next:

Pear Tree House

Owner Chris Eklund describes her new shop as "a lifestyle store that is classic and traditional."

The store offers home furnishings, tabletop accessories, gifts, bath items, stationery, crystal, classic baubles, seasonal items, a bridal registry and baby gifts.

Eklund said she chose to open shop in St. Philip's because of its "charm and location."

Opening such a store has been Ecklund's dream since she was young.

The store got its name from Ecklund's childhood home in Virginia, which was named Pear Tree House.

Coincidentally, when her parents bought a farm in South Carolina years later, it just happened to be named Pear Tree Farm.

So she thought the name was a good fit for her store, since she wanted it to have a Southern and Eastern feel.

"The East and Southeast have such a wonderful way with their hospitality. They're always gracious and entertaining is a big part of their lives.

"And it works well with the way the southwest works as well," she said.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.

Dansér Studio

Dansér is a dance studio offering ballet, modern, hip-hop, zumba, capoeira, ballet strength and, starting next month, musical theater. Classes are for ages 4 and up.

Alexis Kyriakis, owner and artistic director of Dansér, said, "St. Philip's has been my favorite plaza since I was little. It's the only plaza that has the feeling of a plaza. You don't see cars or the street, just a plaza."

The name Dansér came about when Kyriakis was brainstorming studio names about five years ago.

The word dansér is French for dancer, while the word ser is "to be" in Spanish and the word danza is dance in Spanish, she explained.

Putting them together, Dan-sér became a play on words, which translates as "to be dance."

"I fell in love with the name then, so when starting the project this year, I didn't even think twice about changing it," Kyriakis said.

The studio is open Mondays through Saturdays.

A schedule of classes can be found at www.danserstudio.com online.

Creosote Jewelry

Mark Bahti, owner of Creosote Jewelry, which opened this fall, had already been in the plaza for "22 years and three landlords" as the owner of venerable Bahti Indian Arts.

He said he wouldn't own a shop anywhere else. "It's always well maintained and pride of ownership shows. A lot of effort goes into the landscaping."

Interesting wildlife wanders around the area, he added. He even saw a llama walk by one day.

Creosote sells jewelry art from the Southwest and represents artists such as Ken and Barbara Newman and the Patania family.

Store hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

What's next

Occupancy at St. Philip's is nearly full. Out of 84,000 square feet of leasing space, 7,500 are available, Selby said.

Yet it continues to expand.

• A gelato shop (which has yet to be named) will move into a gazebo style building, between Union House and Vivace, in the next three to four months.

Selby said he is not worried about competition from other gelato shops in the area.

"I think gelato will do well. It's like coffee. People will only drive so far for it," he said.

• The owners of Union Public House gastropub are planning to open a Mexico City concept restaurant next August where Level used to be. The new restaurant will be looking to hire 50 to 60 employees in August 2013.

The restaurant will feature upscale Mexican cuisine with an extensive tequila list and a focus on patio dining.

"You've gotta find a niche. You've gotta be special," said Steve Stratigouleas, co-owner of Union Public House.

"We're really excited to be a part of the St. Philip's renovations and to operate next to (Daniel) Scordato, who has been a hero of mine," said Grant Krueger, co-owner of Union Public House. Scordato has two restaurants in the plaza.

• Liv Cafe & Bistro, which is now a quick service coffee shop and cafe, is expanding due to high demand, said owner Comyford. "Trying to keep up is what we're trying to do."

Starting in January, Liv will have an expanded dining room, a patio and a wine bar, which will be open in the evenings.

• Bodyworks will also get a bigger space early next year.

DID YOU KNOW?

The retail plaza is named for the historic church across the street, St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church.

The church was founded in 1936, and its first service was held that Christmas Eve.

Catalina Foothills developer John Murphey and his wife, Helen, donated the land where St. Philip's in the Hills was built, and the church's chapel was designed by well-known Tucson architect Josias Joesler.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.

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