Gold Spot is my favorite building in downtown Phoenix. It incorporates many key ‘urbanist principles’, such as, authenticity, adaptive reuse, street presence, mixed use and (relative) density. In addition, it caters to the realities of Phoenix by offered parking (in the back) and plenty of shade, both along the street and in the courtyard behind the building.
First opening for business in September 1925, The ‘Gold Spot Marketing Center’ is significant because it is one of the first (and few remaining) residential shopping centers in the Valle. In the early 1980’s the building finally fell victim to suburban sprawl and inner-city neglect and was shuttered in 1983.
The Gold Spot sat empty for more than 20 years until Desert Viking Companies bought the property and began redevelopment with an eye toward preservation. Desert Viking carefully restoration the building’s mixture of Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival architectural styles. They restored the masonry to its original condition and reconstructed the storefront based on historic articles and a single old photo. Matches were found for original roof trusses, and a custom glass storefront was designed to include a new recessed corner entry based on the photograph. The original courtyard was also restored.
For these efforts, the redevelopment received the 2004 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor (nominated by the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office), and Arizona’s Environmental Architectural Award. The building was also nominated under the Historic Preservation category for the 2004 Environmental Excellence Awards. In addition, then Governor Napolitano declared July 27 2003 ‘Historic Gold Spot Marketing Center Day.” It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Until a few years ago, it was home to home to Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli. The deli was run by a sister and brother, Maria and Carlo, who learned the ins and outs from their parents, Domenic and Teresa Capogreco who operated an authentic Italian grocery store in Boston where they settled after emigrating from Calabria, Italy.
As an Italian-o-phile I was sad to see Calabria close; however, I’m encouraged by the success of Lola Coffee that took its place as well as the opening of Pita Jungle and the rumored Ace Hardware. Throw in the existing Trini Salon, the recently opened Substance Design Consortium (an architecture firm), and a nearby dry cleaners and you have a dynamic mix of urban uses—exactly what downtown Phoenix needs if it is to continue to attract (and retain) residences.