Filling a vacancy

When Chevy’s Fresh Mex moved into what was once Bank of America at Second and Broadway streets in 1998, we were skeptical. By some counts, $3 million was spent to renovate the historic building both structurally and aesthetically. Things never really looked great for the chain in that location, with its accompanying burrito shop closing almost immediately and parking at the site being far from ample. Planting palm trees directly in front of Chico founder Gen. John Bidwell’s portrait on a building facing Chevy’s parking lot did little to endear the place to the locals.

When Chevy’s finally shuttered in 2003, few were surprised.

But we were recently proven wrong on one count: We were sure the building, at more than 14,000 square feet and with presumably astronomical rents, would sit vacant (save for Jamba Juice) for many more years, becoming a disappointment of lost opportunity in the middle of downtown Chico. There is nothing more detrimental to the vibrancy of a downtown than a hulking vacancy languishing on a prime-location corner.

Now, the building has been sold and plans are reportedly in the works to split the three-story building and bring in additional eateries. The buyer is a Sacramento developer with local connections, and we’re eager to see what takes place there.