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Plaza owners vow to move ahead after tragedy

March 1, 2012

Though the current owners recently suffered a death in the family, a press release says that Cottonwood Plaza will be renovated soon, then opened to local businesses. File photo

Plans to refurbish, revitalize and eventually reopen the long-defunct Cottonwood Plaza shopping center in Bishop will be moving forward.
A press release issued by the current owners reiterates the property holders’ commitment to both their commercial enterprise and the community – despite recent, and even tragic, setbacks.
Ray and Liz Eslamiyeh had vowed to get the shopping center opened to businesses as soon as possible upon closing escrow on the property last summer.
To get the ball rolling, the Eslamiyehs had planned an extensive renovation project at Cottonwood. Environmental testing – including groundwater studies where a service station was once located – ran on for much longer than anticipated as results were delayed at the state level.
Then Ray Eslamiyeh fell ill, ultimately succumbing to complications from cancer in January.
“However, the dream to create a beautiful, lively town center lives on,” the press release states. “The process of upgrading the property infrastructure and the improvement of its appearance will go forward.”
The now vacant shopping center had once been the home of a number of business outlets, offices, retail and restaurant facilities.
The plaza has been empty since the start of 2009 and progress on leases, ownership and other factors has been slow while waiting for the clean bill of health from the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The plaza was built in 1978, a joint venture between Dwayne Wilson of Dwayne’s Friendly Pharmacy, and business partners Mert Wiedmann and Leland Bell of Shafter.
Today, its classic western themed architecture stands a bit neglected.
But a makeover has begun, inspired by the vision of Ray and Liz Eslamiyeh, who have been described as “committed and enthusiastic property owners” in both Mammoth Lakes and Bishop since 2000.
“For too many years a chain link fence has remained an eyesore for those who pass by the corner of Yaney Street and Main Street in Bishop,” the press release states.
According to the family, the first thing to be upgraded and brought to code will be fire safety features and the water and electrical systems.
Since the plaza closed, there have been numerous rumors of potential tenants hoping to get into the buildings. Many of those are unsubstantiated, and others did express an interest, but eventually backed out.
“The owners, working closely with the Bishop community, look ahead to an exciting future for the once busy shopping center,” the press release states. “They are committed to transforming the town center to a source of pride for the City of Bishop. This will be the time when the fence finally comes down and the transformed shopping center opens its doors for business.”
Those interested in securing tenant space may send their contact information and requirements to info@bishoptowncenter.com.
Ray Eslamiyeh’s family said it would like to extend its deepest gratitude to all those who prayed for Ray and for the tremendous love and support given over the last few difficult months.

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