Community wins first battle in fight to save iconic liquor store in Melrose

Local business owners in the Melrose district voice their concern about iconic liquor store being demolished.

Spray-painted on the pavement of the Melrose District in Phoenix is a simple graffiti stencil with a big meaning.

The graffiti art depicts a cartoon bulldozer using its claw to tear down a building.  

“A lot of these properties are getting sold, so there's going to be a lot of changes coming,” said Mark Sydnor.

With new construction sites popping up throughout the Phoenix area, neighbors and business owners are pushing back against developers. 

Community members are fighting to not only keep historic buildings from being torn down but also to preserve the character of Phoenix' historic communities.

Sydnor is the co-owner of MCM Unique, a high-end mid-century furniture store, located on 7th Avenue in the Melrose District.

“Every day we get people from out-of-state that pass through and they come to Melrose for a specific reason and that’s because it's got the vintage feel, the look,” said Chris Homrick, who co-owns MCM Unique along with Sydnor. 

“You'll find buildings from the '30s, the '40s -- this one was built partly in the '50s,” said Cynthia Black.

Black is the owner of C-Mod Curated Modern Design, another vintage and mid century inspired store in the Melrose District.

“The character of this neighborhood is that buildings are unique,” said Black.

One of those buildings is Melrose Liquors, a 60-year-old bright pink drive-thru liquor store located near the corner of 7th and Montecito avenues, "which if you come around the corner at the Melrose curve, is basically jumping right out at you,” said Black. “Pink and turquoise.”

It's an iconic building the community fears won't be here much longer after P.B. Bell, the developer who bought the property, applied for a permit to tear it down.

Neighbors say they knew changes were coming but thought the developer had agreed to renovate or incorporate the structure into its plans for an apartment building behind the store, which is already under construction.

12 News reached out to the developer and received the following statement.

P.B. Bell is committed to being a good neighbor to the Melrose District and has always operated with the integrity of the site in mind as it develops The Curve at Melrose apartment community.

Our goal from the beginning has been to make improvements that complement and enhance the character of the neighborhood. We have heard the concerns surrounding the future of the Melrose Liquors building, and are in the process of reassessing the situation.

Monday evening the Historic Preservation Commission for the city of Phoenix held a hearing to decide whether to initiate the process to designate Melrose Liquors as a historic site with the city Phoenix.

Late Monday the commission voted to approve the initiation, but a lengthy process still lies ahead for it to officially become a designated site.

Once preservation leaders compile their research, they’ll present it to city council.

Council members will have the final say on whether the building receives historic status.

Demolition however will be postponed until the process is complete.

“I'm a big believer that you can work with the existing environment,” said Homrick. "You can incorporate your architectural techniques and make things blend, make it work.”

For many Melrose business owners, making it work means making sure Melrose doesn’t lose the vintage vibe their businesses are based on.

“Right now this is a destination," said Sydnor, “It's fun, it's cool, it’s groovy and It's perfect.”

“We need to celebrate it, not tear it down."

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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