Once Iconic Arizona Center To Get Makeover As Downtown Development Continues To Surge
When the Arizona Center was built in downtown Phoenix near Third and Van Buren streets in 1990, it was a big deal. The center featured retail spaces, restaurants, a movie theater and office spaces. Nothing like it had been built in downtown Phoenix before.
“It was a real stretch to come downtown and try to do something like this,” according to Michael Jackson, senior project manager with Parallel Capital Partners, the developer working to redesign the center. “Downtown was really struggling to be a real downtown.”
When the center first opened, it was incredibly popular, he said, “And then as time wore on, because there wasn’t really a critical mass downtown, people just quit coming.”
Now, he said, with two major sports stadiums in downtown Phoenix, as well as a host of new college students and housing in the area, downtown Phoenix’s time is here.
“We’re right on the cusp of really having the critical mass downtown to make a true live, work, play downtown,” he said. “And, I think, when we purchased this super block in December of 2015, we could see we were heading in the right direction.”
Much of the redesign centers on transforming what Jackson called the introverted design of the retail center, which is only a wall all along Third Street. Shoppers have to walk all the way around and into the center in order to see any storefronts.
“Part of our redesign of it is to give it a front on Third Street and begin to open it up so that it can be more connected and more porous to the surrounding community,” Jackson said.
The entire façade of the center will be reskinned with computer punched metal panels, he said. And, the entrance into the center at Third and Van Buren streets will be covered in a large canopy that will extend almost all the way over the street corner.
The staircase and water feature in the center courtyard will be removed the plaza will be covered in tall shade trees, according to Jackson.
“Almost everything you can see with your eyes will be refurbished in one way or another,” he said.
The current tenants who are renting space in the Arizona Center will not be shut down at any point during the construction, which will start in early 2017, Jackson said.
Right now, about a third of the available retail space is empty, and Jackson said they will keep it that way until certain phases of the construction are complete.
“It’ll take a little bit longer to do it that way, but it will make it possible for the center to stay up and running during the construction,” he said.
Jackson said there are many other sites around the area that are ripe for development, even though they don’t have current plans to add to it.
“We’re partnering with the city of Phoenix to bring even more density to this site,” he said.
City of Phoenix Director of Economic Development Christine Mackay said that they worked with Parallel Capitol Partners on the project and sold them three small portions of land on the property that the city still owned.
Phoenix helped the developer to identify things that were missing in the area and what their neighbors are looking for, Mackay said, so they could be successful in finding tenants that would fit downtown well.