Editor’s note: Kevin and Dave roamed Bruce Randolph Avenue and talked to most everyone they saw. Every day during Street Week, we’re rolling out mini profiles of the everyday heroes they found. Find more here.
Frederico Fernandez is closing up shop for the day at Fed’s Automotive, the garage he’s owned since 2011. Engines rev and mufflers rumble as Fernandez’s employees pull the cars into a stuffed lot on Bruce Randolph Avenue near St. Paul Street. The sun is starting to set.
“Always busy. Way too busy,” says Fernandez.
Business is good. His is the only garage in the area, save for a smaller one on the other end of Bruce Randolph.
Coming to work day in, day out for nearly a decade has given the mechanic a vantage on the neighborhood and how it’s changing.
He says the area has changed “big time. More Anglos moving in, more housing getting built, flipped.”
But he thinks things are different here than on Brighton Boulevard, a street that once housed a lot more shops like his than it does now. As public and private investment poured into the area, garage owners sold their shops. Temporary homes for ailing cars became permanent homes for people.
“I don’t think my property has the same value as that one. Not in this area, because that was a whole project, you know,” he says, referring to the redesign of Brighton Boulevard that added sidewalks, bikeways and green infrastructure. “Here, you cannot turn all those houses to make buildings. So it’s a little bit different. A different situation. That one was more like commercial going to residential.”
Bruce Randolph has also seen commercial eat commercial, though. Fed’s unmistakable, red-lettered billboards over his garage — “EXHAUST. RADIATORS. TUNE UPS. BRAKES” — stand in stark contrast to the trendy-looking coffee shop down the street that supplanted a garage Fernandez once considered a competitor.
As a handful of employees linger around the lot, the sun falls behind the western mountains.