Most recently known as the temporary home of Mary Coyle’s Ol’ Fashioned Ice Cream, which just re-opened earlier this week, the 1950’s era strip center located at 5827 N. 7th St. in Phoenix was a distressed retail space in this otherwise hot stretch of 7th Street. Surrounded by trendy restaurants such as Mora Italian, Otro Café and The Yard, this anonymous building was quietly sold and scraped this fall. Except, that is, for the soaring, U-shaped street-front monument sign, which will be delicately restored and re-lighted in all its stylized midcentury modern glory and serve as a beacon for the all-new high standard AAA Auto Repair Center. 

Now under construction on 7th Street just south of Bethany Home Road, this 9,150-sq.ft. AAA Auto Center featuring a 12-car service garage was specifically designed to fit seamlessly in with the existing neighborhood. “It was important that we honor the unique vernacular of the neighborhood while constructing a modern building with premier amenities that could serve this neighborhood for decades to come,” says Scott Whittington, Principal of Scottsdale-based Avalon Development. Founded more than two decades ago as a regional commercial real estate development firm, Avalon specializes in high-quality retail, office and manufacturing projects for high-profile clients such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, AutoZone, Raising Cane’s and Starbucks. 

Previously designated as a P.A.D. (planned area of development) by the City of Phoenix, Whittington discovered the dangerously dated structures, which had been broken into and were being used as illegal shelters, were not worth saving. However, Avalon was committed to creating a new neighborhood landmark, one that fit seamlessly into its Uptown Phoenix surroundings, including the I.B.E.W. Local 640 building by the iconic Arizona modernist, Al Beadle, located just across the street.  

Turning to Vertical Design Studios in Phoenix, architect and designer, Justin Gregonis says, “We wanted to create a mid-century-modern building to fit in line with the historic neighborhood. We used simple materials and form so it will stand out as a simple, clean building.”

Most important, Scott Whittington says, “The original monument sign will remain, and be fully restored, as it is true to the heart of this neighborhood.”