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A 91-year-old auto repair shop building along Gilbert Road will see new life as owners try to revitalize it as a dining and retail spot at one end of the Heritage District.

Clement’s Auto Repair was Gilbert’s oldest continuously operating business until it closed its doors in March 2022, said Denise Lopez, president and CEO of HD South.

In 1934, Tom Clement opened the mechanic shop and later handed off the business to his sons Paul and David in 2005.

The building will join a host of other decade-old buildings along Gilbert Road that have been readapted, including Liberty Market, Joe’s Real BBQ and The Farmhouse.

Lopez said she’s thankful to developers who readapt the properties for a new purpose and preserve their history. She sees it as a form of respect for the community.

Paul Clement put the business up for sale in 2015 and told The Arizona Republic at the time he wasn’t in a rush to sell it but wanted to test the waters.

In 2022, Scott and Haleigh Bigelow purchased Clement’s Auto Repair for nearly $3 million, according to real estate database Vizzda.

The Bigelows got a green light from the town’s Redevelopment Commission to begin work on the now-dubbed Clement’s Garage.

A new vision

The Bigelows live in Gilbert’s Heritage District.

“Their goal for redeveloping this building is to help revitalize this section of the district while maintaining historic buildings that help to define its unique and varied history,” town documents for the project state.

One restaurant and one retail store will operate out of the 10,090-square-foot building, according to site planning documents. A 1930s-era car fuel station-inspired canopy will be part of the building’s new façade which would add 5,000 square feet for an outdoor patio area for the restaurant tenant.

The project is expected to start construction in the summer. No building permits have been issued, according to town staff.

Who was Tom Clement?

Tom Clement was born in Mesa on June 27, 1912. As a teenager, he took a job from his uncle to help run a garage in Gilbert. He later purchased the garage from the Continental Oil Company and renamed it Clement’s Garage.

At first, business was slow. Thenl a local farmer came in and asked Tom to fix a sewing machine. Not knowing a thing about sewing machines, Tom tinkered with it all night until he fixed it.

“Before long all the farmers were bringing their broken equipment to me… That’s what really got me started,” Clement told The Arizona Republic in 2022.

For seven decades he built his reputation as the go-to car repairman.

He also served as Gilbert’s mayor from 1949 to 1955. One of his biggest accomplishments as mayor was getting the town’s first sewer system, which is often attributed as a pivotal point to Gilbert’s population growth.

At 93, he retired handing the business over to his two sons. Just three days shy of his 99th birthday Clement died.

Reporter Maritza Dominguez covers Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek and can be reached at or 480-271-0646. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @maritzacdom.

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