Community fighting to protect iconic building after demolition notice is posted

The City of Phoenix has confirmed a request to demolish of Melrose Liquors but residents are outraged.

Just after rounding the iconic curve on 7th Avenue, north of Indian School Road, you see it.

Melrose Liquors, a bright pink drive through liquor store, that’s been in the same place and building for 60 years.

“It's iconic to this neighborhood,” said Stacey Champion. Champion is one of many neighbors who love living in the Melrose District because of its historic charm and the quarky new shops that thrive off it.

“The community is really interested in saving the little history we have here,” Champion told 12 News.

But this week, Champion was once again reminded- not everyone shares their enthusiasm for the unique buildings.

“I got a call, ‘hey did you know they just posted a demolition permit notice on the pink drive through liquor store’,” Champion said she was told.

According to the City of Phoenix, request for a demolition permit came from P.B. Bell, the developer that bought the property and is currently building an apartment complex behind the store.

The notice, posted in big bold letters, blindsided neighbors who say they thought developer had already agreed not to tear it down.

“At the meetings, where this developer was pitching this project, it was stated very clearly that this building would not be removed,” Champion said.

Still, once the permit went up, the clock to save the building started ticking.

Last year, a boom in new construction, combined with the loss of historical structures, led the Phoenix City council to approve a 30-day demolition delay for buildings over 50 years old, giving preservation leaders time to research whether the property is eligible for historic preservation status.

Champion says the community doesn’t feel the building needs to be left completely as-is.

They were hoping it could be renovated into something new or integrated into a design concept that fit the builder’s needs.

That’s what a couple other developers, who bought buildings down the street from the liquor store,  decided to do rather than tear the structures down.

“I would be sad, I like this place,” said Doug Eldridge, a customer we spoke with at the drive through window.

Still, Eldridge says he can also see the other side and is hoping there’s a way to combine both visions.

“A little mixture is nice, new places get built and bring new people and money into the area,” he said.

We made several calls to P.B. Bell regarding their request for a demolition permit but did not receive a response.

Champion is holding out hope they'll have a change of heart and decide to work with the community.

“That is our character,” she said. “So either we can become Anything Town USA or we can embrace the fact that our history are these quirky, iconic buildings.”

Champion started a petition on Change.org to try and fight the demolition.

The first hearing to determine whether preservationists can pursue a historic designation for the building is scheduled for Monday.

After that, preservationists will present their findings to city council.

Council members will ultimately have the final say on whether the building receives historical designation and can be protected.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment