From Laundry to Lounge, New ‘Modern Manor’ Invites Multi-use in Melrose

It’s no April Fool’s joke, Modern Manor owner Ryan Durkin is reshaping the former Paris Laundry into a multi-use showroom, event space, and bar.

“I’ve always loved that building,” he said. “We’ve always looked at it and gone, ‘man one day somebody is going to do something awesome.” 

If you didn’t get a chance during Street Fair to preview what Ryan is doing with the 11k-square-foot treasured Melrose landmark, he plans to soft-open his new vintage furniture gallery by summer.

Originally he hoped to move in April 1st, eight years to the day since he opened for business in Melrose,  Durkin is still waiting for a certificate of occupancy from the City.

Paris Laundry was built in 1957 as one of several commercial buildings in the Melrose Mile that represent the space-age themed “Googie” style, with pronounced arches, an inward slanting roof, and a dual layered, bowed rectangle, neon sign. The building is almost inseparable from north-facing photos of the Melrose arch.

Paris closed in 2016, causing preservationists to worry about its future. “The (owners) definitely did not care about saving it,” Durkin said. “I told them I’m going to repurpose the building, that it’s going to be beautiful and amazing. They were like, ‘how much are you paying us?”

Durkin said he didn’t even know Paris was for sale until architecture enthusiast Alison King of Modern posted on Instagram. “I’d been on the hunt for the past two or three years for a another warehouse,” Durkin said. “I came close on Thomas and 16th St., and another off Grand Ave., like within 24 hours three different times.” 
Ryan, 36, and his wife Kylie opened their original store in an aluminum shipping-container (ish) showroom in North Melrose on Hazelwood Street in 2010.


That unusual structure, with bright yellow M’s painted over stormy grey metal, invited mid-century admirers to meander to and fro the shops in the Campbell Place retail plaza one block west of 7th Ave.

Over time, their operation evolved into a real-estate staging business, lending mid-century pieces to dozens of higher-end clients in central and east Phoenix.


Though Modern will continue to showcase in about 5k-square-feet of new space, they envision much more than retail in the “new” building.

“We want it to be the type of space where people can just kinda be there and hang out,” Durkin said. “It will be an experience where you come in, eat, you could have a drink, and shop.” 
Crews have removed several walls, mechanical equipment, and exposed the cement floor and wooden bow trusses that support the roof. The sky-blue trim and arches have been painted black to match Modern’s logo, which is not neon but now crowns the building’s one-of-a-kind marquee. The neon red “Paris Laundry” letters were replaced just inside the front door, where Durkin said they’ll remain as tribute to it’s long history in Melrose.

In addition to furniture, Durkin envisions two bars, one as part of a light-fare cafe and the other more of an upscale destination. “It won’t be a full blown restaurant,” Durkin added. “You can still come in and check out the furniture and all that stuff, just like (you) always have. But you can also grab a coffee, a beer, a cocktail,hang out, maybe have a business meeting, crack your laptop, study or whatever.”

 The laundry featured two boiler rooms as well a “furrier” vault, where Durkin said customers stored fur coats during Arizona’s harsh summers. A bank-style value door door will be perfect for a swanky hush-hush atmosphere, he said.

 “We’re doing a secret, speakeasy type ‘expensive’ cocktail bar,” Durkin teased vaguely. “It’ll be Mid-century modern, European inspired.”

Durkin also signed on a tenant, Way L.A. Creative, who will work with his manager, Dominic Fasano, to host events and roving displays throughout the building.

(visit thismelroselife/facebook to watch an impromptu interview with Way L.A. rep Parker Groves.)

Still in the design phase, Durkin and his partner Aaron Klusman have yet to contract Modern’s delicacies and imbiberies, but they’re considering several offers. “The hope is for escapism,” Durkin explained. “It’ll be like, ‘woah, where am I,’ stepping back in time?”
A doorway in a brick wall leads to an event space in the rear.

The food and bars will require licensing and permitting, and may even require changes to parking schemes.

Durkin plans to ask the neighborhood for support for any public approvals that may arise. The project is expected to span into the summer, at least.

 In the mean time, he said feedback from the open house went very well. “Everyone seems to be really excited to hear our plans. Not one person had anything negative to say, not to me at least.”

Durkin and Klusman are more-or-less equal partners in the project. Though he declined to discuss the numbers, Durkin said the full scale of the project is way beyond what he could do alone. “Were doing it right,” he said confidently. “And it ends in the millions.”

Durkin (right) and store manager Dominic Fasano chat during the open house at Street Fair, Mar. 3 2017

Ryan and Kylie live in Arcadia with their three young children. Photos of their mid-century inspired home can be seen in a 2013 A.Z. Central feature. 


The new Modern Manor will be featured in the Melrose section of the Urban Phoenix Design Walking Tour March, 17.
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