Update May 16: Months after the pink disappeared, City of Phoenix Neighborhood Specialist Lisa Huggins-Hubbard said she was involved in re-paininting at least half the structure. “The whole front was covered in graffiti,” she said. “I couldn’t have the Mayor and all the guests (at the Lyceum Dedication 12/14/17) looking at that crap.”
Whether or not you’re a fan of hot pink, the only place you’ll find any trace of it on a once iconic Melrose building is on an electrical box and an air-conditioner in the back. As of Saturday, the building that Melrose went mad over last summer matches the new apartment building behind .
“I didn’t do it,” said Rebecca Golden, the restauranteur from north Phoenix who wants to rehab the vacant, and now cream colored Melrose Liquors building into a new bistro. “It’s not even mine yet.”
Golden entered into contract with apartment developers P.B. Bell last year. She said the formerly pink and cyan paralellogram she’s trying to renovate has been held in escrow while she secures financing and public approvals for her new restaurant concept, ‘The Googie.’ (Read article: Googie Needs Melrose Support).
Bell acquired what most people still call ‘The Pink Liquor Building’ in 2013 along with four acres of dirt on which they built their five-story “Curve Luxury Apartments.”
Project manager Trey Brandt confirmed Tuesday that Bell painted over the pink.
“It wasn’t looking very good, it had been tagged (with Grafitti),” Bradnt said. “I think people would be happy it wasn’t pink.”
Brandt said he understands why Melrose wants to save the architecture, but was not able to speak to definite plans for the building.
“I kinda liked the hot pink,” said Christine Smith. “It looked like the fifties.” Smith and her husband Steve live in Encanto. They had breakfast at Melrose Kitchen Sunday, as they have for years. “It’s kinda hard to see,” Steve said. “It was easier to see pink.”
Marcus Waters sells vintage clothing and is no stranger to shops on Seventh Avenue.
“The building at this point just vanished,” he said Sunday morning. “I rode my bike right (past) here and I didn’t even notice it.”
Waters said he remembers the Melrose outcry to save the building last summer. “The valley has these iconic landmarks that are more eclectic to our collective memory than street names,” he said. “If I was going to tell people about the culture or identity of a place, this would be one of those things.”
Bell originally planned to incorporate the building into their complex – rumors floated around about it being their front office – but filed demolition permits after negotiations with city planners required them to give up parking and open space. At one time there was even talk of putting in a dog park.
“Personally, I did not agree with that decision,” said Mike Truman, Bell’s V.P. of Development in an interview with T.M.L. last fall. “I was overruled, so we applied for a demo permit and then, well, you know what happened.”
Over 1000 Melrose activists signed a petition to save the building, which was built in 1957, and represents what architects call “Googie” style.” The City of Phoenix Heritage Preservation Commission considered delaying the demolition – the City cannot outright prevent such without landmark status – and P.B. Bell instead decided to sell it.
“I got a call from a friend in Florida who read about it in U.S.A. Today,” Truman said with a laugh. “He asked, ‘are you trying to tear down some liquor store?”
Golden filed initial renderings with city planners on Thursday and requires several approvals, including permits to allow outdoor music, cocktails, and a parking reduction.
“It looks very retro to me,” said Dee Dee Wood. “I like the drive through.” Wood lives in Glendale. She antiques a lot, but a flea market brought her to Melrose for the first time Sunday. “The stores that I’ve been in here, the people are friendly and not pushy,” she said. “A lot of times you get into the other ones and they’re really crazy busy.”
Wood said she was still impressed by the liquor building, even though it’s no longer pink. “I would love to see it preserved,” she said. “I find it very interesting to see both. It’s what we live in, the old and the new.” Wood said she thinks people who can find work in central Phoenix would love Melrose. “It’s very retro,” she said. “Most of the buildings are kept up very nicely.”
Waters said he appreciates Bell’s transparency.
“There was a lot of available information, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of ‘no comment,” He said. “You can tell when a developer is blowing smoke, you know.”
Waters was not very impressed by The Curve, however.
“This building here is incredibly disinteresting,” He said, pointing to The Curve. “It’s not an office building, it’s a living space.”
Brandt said the Curve leasing office will be open the first week of February, and residents will be allowed to move in March.
P.B. Bell V.P. of Development Mike Truman was not available to talk on the phone Tuesday but you can listen to an interview with him here.