Gleaming vehicles will soon drive off the former site of Villa Ave. Car Wash again as Russell Speeder's Car Wash opens an outlet there in mid-October.

"Russell Speeder's has been very successful," said Larry Hoffman, a principal with Hoffman Investment Partners, which owns the 620 Villa Ave. property under the name Tunxis Hill Associates. "We're very enthusiastic and happy about working with them and we expect great things."

Hoffman said Russell Speeder's has signed a lease "for the long run" for the 3,737-square-foot car wash, built in 1962 on the corner of Villa Avenue and Greenfield Street.

Other business sites owned by Hoffman include nearby parcels for a Kohl's department store and former Mobil gas station, to be turned into a Stop & Shop gas depot.

Russell Speeder's was founded in 1963 by Herman Shullman, grandfather of the current owner, Michael Shullman, of New Canaan. The Norwalk-based firm has several Connecticut locations, including venues in Norwalk, Stamford, Milford and Shelton. It also has five Midwest outlets and two branches in Florida, according to its website.

The Fairfield location "looked like a good opportunity and it seemed like a busy car wash years ago," Shullman said.

The site is undergoing a complete renovation, during which its hours, services and number of employees will be determined through a study of the area's traffic patterns, Shullman said

"We're taking everything out and will install all new equipment," he said. "Everyone should be on the lookout for a grand opening. Then the town will know we're here."

Villa Ave. Car Wash was owned and operated by the family-run Melko Corp. for almost 50 years, but closed abruptly in early spring. Previous attempts to reach the family for comment were unsuccessful.

The Connecticut Post, a sister paper of the Fairfield Citizen, reported in late May that the business owed Tunxis Hill almost $148,000 in back rent and many customers were stuck with unused car wash vouchers.

Hoffman said the Melko family may have had a dispute over the business and one member moved away, while another groomed to run it went into carpentry.

"They left under cloudy conditions," he said. "All good things come to an end."

First Selectman Michael Tetreau said he is sorry to see the departure of Villa Ave. Car Wash, which he recalls visiting as a child. At the same time, he said he is "thrilled" to see Russell Speeder's investment in the Tunxis Hill area, which in recent years saw the exit of Syms-Filene's Basement department store and Fitness Edge.

"It's a gateway to Fairfield," he said, adding that grant money is being sought to invest in the area's business landscape, which should benefit from the new Fairfield Metro train station and planned commercial development. "We want to make sure it looks like a gateway."; 203-255-4561, ext. 112;