In the words of David Bowie, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.”
A couple of sites that once hosted Chico landmark businesses are in transition. When Sports LTD moved from the old Oser’s Department Store building at 240 Main St., it left a large vacancy and questions about who would move in there. Now, it seems the owners (the Rebecca Lovell estate of Palo Alto) are looking to sell, and at least two people who already own property downtown want to buy: Michael Hart and Wayne Cook.
There are also some twists down at the KNVN-KHSL television studios. A few people have been laid off on the business side of things at KHSL, which has a shared-services agreement with KNVN, and there are rumors that KHSL’s owner is actively looking to sell.
Plugging in the Web site address for Connecticut-based owner Catamount Broadcasting Group now redirects the viewer to KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, the other station the company owns (Catamount still has the license for its Fargo, N.D. station but turned over the rest of the business to another company a couple of months ago).
Catamount CEO Ralph Becker said that, while TV stations in general have yet to fully recover from the recession, rumors that KHSL is for sale are “absolutely not true.” He said the stations are “progressing as I had hoped.”
Becker, along with KNVN/KHSL General Manager Tony Kiernan, confirmed recent “consolidation” that resulted in some people losing their jobs—changes that Becker characterized as “insignificant.”
One thing is confirmed, however: nighttime anchor Megan Newquist is leaving the station and moving to Sacramento, where she’s not sure if she’ll stay in TV. Her last broadcast was Aug. 29. After three and one-half years there, Newquist told me she’ll miss Chico. “I love the people here,” she said. “It’s bittersweet to leave.”
Anchor Alan Marsden, who had been commuting from the Sacramento area, has also chosen to move on to other things.
Also, Crista Evans is going on maternity leave—congrats to her.
If you’re wondering about the McDonald’s on Connors Avenue (off East), don’t worry. The Hamburglar hasn’t run off with it.
Mark Burington, who owns all the McDonald’s restaurants in town, said that, after 23 years, “the building had just reached [the end of] its useful life.”
A new McDonald’s will be constructed in its place, with what Burington called an “upscale” style featuring wood paneling and other decor. It will be rectangular (not like the retro one on Mangrove) but with more shapes and curves and an indoor Play Place. “People will walk in and say, ‘Wow, this doesn’t look like McDonald’s,” Burington said.
He predicts the change will boost business at the location, which is already on par with other Chico McDonald’s sites. Burington is also working to get Caltrans to put in a left-turn lane and signal at the intersection for added safety and access.
He expects the project to be completed by Nov. 10 or 15. In the meantime, employees were transferred to other Chico McDonald’s locations. “We kept everybody,” Burington said.