The Frederick on Missouri is an homage to mid-century modern architecture, with a fresh take on the outdated strip malls of the past. The owners describe it as “a gathering place for the community to shop and dine; a place that is unique and something that creates a sense of pride in the neighborhood.”
Arizona transplants Chantell Nighswonger and her husband Kevin Cieszkowski, owners of The Frederick (1215 E. Missouri Ave.), said the plaza is their passion project. They also run a women’s clothing boutique there.
“When I moved back to Phoenix, I had a difficult time finding the fashion-related marketing job I wanted, and it was my husband who suggested starting the boutique I had always dreamed of opening,” Nighswonger said. “I always wondered why there weren’t more boutiques like the ones I would visit in California or around the world, and I would mostly shop online, so I decided I would start my boutique based on the shops I had visited.”
Nighswonger’s dream became a reality when she opened Vida Moulin five years ago. From there, the vision grew, and the duo decided to move the boutique into its own building.
“My grandparents were entrepreneurs, mostly in commercial and industrial real estate, so I always had a deep understanding that owning your own buildings and land was one key to personal wealth and growth,” Nighswonger said.
She reached out to friends who also owned small businesses and asked if they would be interested in joining them as tenants. Once the other shops were on board, it was time to find a space.
“Our biggest grief with the Phoenix commercial real estate market for small business retail shops is that there were lackluster strip malls where your neighbors would not necessarily be driving the type of business you wanted. Or, there would be brand-new shopping complexes mostly made of nighttime-focused restaurants and charging extremely high prices for larger spaces than what you needed,” Nighswonger said. Fate stepped in one day when Nighswonger and her husband, along with architect Christoph Kaiser, found an empty building at 12th St. and Missouri Ave. The original architect, Frederick Weaver, had designed notable buildings around the Valley, including the ASU library and the former Valley National Bank at 44th and Camelback. They decided to name their project after him.
“With so many original mid-century buildings being torn down all over Phoenix, we wanted to keep the historical integrity and have this gem restored for future generations to appreciate,” Nighswonger said. “Weaver’s daughters visited, and at that moment, we knew that taking the additional cost of restoring the building was the right choice.”
The complex, built in the 1960s, originally housed a dental office.
Now, eight businesses complete The Frederick. Along with Vida Moulin, the shopping center includes Form Floral, Cricket & Ruby children’s boutique, Metalmark fine jewelry, a beauty concept called Melt by Melissa, Batea vintage goods, Creative Kind gift shop and Mahalo Made shaved ice.
“The majority [of the stores] have been in business for three to five years and have quite a community following. We expected a great reaction from the community when it came together, but I think we are all blown away at how excited the entire Valley has been to have a destination like this,” Nighswonger said.
She and her team have plans to open another retail and dining complex called The Murphy that will be “an industrial-influenced building set on the train tracks that run through downtown Gilbert,” Nighswonger said. It will be named after Frank Murphy, who built the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1903 through the town.