This week some of the biggest names leading the growth and transformation of the West Valley teamed up to highlight the activities that are greatly improving the economics and quality of life in the region.

The Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) in partnership with Kasten Long Commercial Group (KLCG) and Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC) hosted an event at Grand Canyon University on Wednesday for a crowd of approximately 170-anttendees. It covered topics such as Grand Canyon University’s impact on West Phoenix neighborhoods, the history and future of Metrocenter Mall as well as a recap of the most significant commercial real estate projects coming down the pike in the West Valley.

Brian Mueller

GCU President Brian Mueller kicked-off the program with the story of the school’s unprecedented transformation over the past eight years, going from a bankrupt college to a $2 billion university with enrollment increasing from less than 1,000 to 16,000 and online enrollment improving from 12,500 to 55,000. In terms of community impact, GCU is also working with the local neighborhoods and public schools to enhance education and improve safety. Mueller noted part of GCU’s mission is to improve the quality of life for residents in the surrounding communities, which reflects the school’s Christian and educational values.

Warren Fink

He was followed by Warren Fink, chief operating officer at Carlyle Development Group. Fink shared the history of Metrocenter and the planned revitalization of the shopping center, which was once the pride of the Southwest.

When Metrocenter Mall first opened in 1973 it broke numerous records. It was the largest mall in Arizona at 1.4 million square feet and the first two-story mall in the state. It was also granted a $21 million loan for construction, which marked the largest commercial loan in Arizona’s history at the time.

Future plans for Metrocenter include the opening of a super Walmart in October at the south end of the mall. Fink also noted plans to add residential and office developments through new PUD zoning, following the completion of the light rail extension across Interstate 17 to the mall’s front doorstep.

Christine Mackay, director of economic development for the City of Phoenix, and Sintra Hoffman, president of WESTMARC, concluded the program with a look at projects that are now in-place and planned that will attract companies to the West Valley and provide many jobs.

Sintra Hoffman

According to a recent study, 69 percent of the workforce in the West Valley travels out of the area for work. With such a large skilled labor force already located in the West Valley, various groups like the City of Phoenix, WESTMARC and many others have focused on attracting companies to the area.

Overall, the West Valley looks to benefit from new companies and developments coming to the area, which in turn should continue to increase in value and demand.

The partnership between the AMA and KLCG is intended to be a resource and provide market data to independent AMA apartment owners, says Jim Kasten, CCIM, founder and designated broker at KLCG.

KLCG has held quarterly meetings in different locations across Metro Phoenix that focus on what’s currently happening and the projected projects that will change the economics of each area. The first meeting was in Tempe and the second meeting highlighted the hot Downtown Phoenix apartment market.

Meetings are open to everyone. Contact Jim Kasten, CCIM, at for information and details on future meetings.