Avondale station bites the dust, makes way for the Mellow Mushroom

Avondale station bites the dust, makes way for the Mellow Mushroom

Ironic end to historical icon

A small crowd gathered to watch the destruction of the derelict gas station at the corner of St. Johns and Ingleside on the site for the planned Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in the Shoppes of Avondale. Demolition was virtually complete within 30 minutes on Monday, Aug. 12.

A few items were removed from the garage, including four old gas pump meters and the death certificate of the owner. Vince Porchiazzo, site superintendent for Tenant Construction, said that they would recycle everything they possibly could.

Steve Diebenow, local attorney, and John Valentino, owner of Mellow Mushroom

Steve Diebenow, local attorney, and John Valentino, owner
of Mellow Mushroom

Valentino’s original plans for Mellow Mushroom involved adaptive re-use of the gas station, according to a release by Keymer Group. Simon Keymer noted that after extensive negotiations with Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) and others, the decision was made to demolish the gas station in favor of a new building with a parking lot.

“The demolition of the gas station represents an ironic end for the iconic structure built in 1964.  Ironic because John Valentino sought to preserve the gas station and ultimately agreed to its demolition as part of a compromise with neighbors to provide additional parking,” said Steve Diebenow, attorney for the project. “Mellow Mushroom Avondale is a great illustration of thoughtful infill development that balanced concerns for an existing historic structure with practical parking solutions in the historic neighborhood.”

Milan Malinovic, principal, Design/Cooperative, is the architect and interior designer for the new restaurant. “It will be quite different from the other Mellow Mushrooms; it will fit in the neighborhood,” he noted. “Even the historic people in the city [City of Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission] were happy with the outcome.”

Valentino shared, “I’m just glad it’s finally moving forward. It’s unnecessary that it’s taken this long, but if it were easy, then everybody would be doing it. It’s going to be a great thing. The plans are beautiful; we’re trying to keep them close so that when it’s all done everybody will be surprised.

“I think everybody will be happy. If they’re not, I don’t know what could have been done better. I’m obviously dedicated to the neighborhood and making a significant investment,” Valentino concluded.

Burkhalters took the first bite out of the station on Aug. 12; the toppling of the chimney was a crowd thriller; the entire demolition took about 30 minutes from start to finish

Burkhalters took the first bite out of the station on Aug. 12; the toppling of the chimney was a crowd thriller; the entire demolition took about 30 minutes from start to finish

According to Porchiazzo, it will take a week to completely remove the debris, including the concrete, and to begin the tear out of portions of the former Emly Benham/’town building in preparation for construction.

Mellow Mushroom is expected to open before the end of the year.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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