Vacant commercial property is quite plentiful in the Tucson area. Point in any direction and you're likely to find a parcel . . . or six.
But how about one placed firmly along the freeway, which comes complete with its own 100-foot-tall circular sign that can be seen for blocks, and dates back to a long-gone tenant? Those are a little harder to come by.
For more than 20 years, the northwest corner of East Benson Highway and South Park Avenue has sat vacant, save for the sign that used to represent the Union 76 gas station that first landed there in the mid-1950s.
The land's only occupant in the last few years has been a memorial to Gloria Ann Gomez, a 24-year-old woman who was killed in a car wreck at the intersection in September 2006.
Look closely at the sign and you still can see the outline of the "76" on both sides of the circle, which has been painted white to cover the logo's orange-and-blue color scheme.
The gas station had a variety of names during its roughly 25 years of existence, known first as Koehler's Union Service Station and later Joe's and Bob's, according to old city business directories.
By 1989, all that was left was the sign. The corner got even more empty about five years ago when the neighboring lot, which housed a Waffle House restaurant, was razed.
Why is the sign still there? Chalk it up to Tucson's sign ordinances, which allow signs of that size to exist only if they predate the establishment of the code in 1985, said Janet Snyder, who represents the corner lot for 4-D Properties.
"If we take it down, we'll never be able to put up another big sign," she said. "We don't maintain it, though."
The presence of that sign - which still has light bulbs in the fixtures that hang over where gas prices were displayed - could serve as a strong lure to a business looking to attract customers who are driving on Interstate 10. The corner is just feet from an I-10 off-ramp.
"We've had a couple of inquiries but nothing solid," Snyder said.
Contact reporter Brian J. Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-4224.