Plans for the transformation of the former site of Metrocenter Mall — one of metro Phoenix’s first major malls — are taking shape.
A development group’s plans for the Metrocenter Mall’s site include multifamily housing surrounding a a pedestrian-oriented town center with shops, restaurants and a park, as well as offices, KJZZ reported.
Constructed in 1973, the mall along Interstate 17 in north Phoenix over the years was a popular community hub that included department stores and other retail outlets, a movie theater, a skating rink and an arcade.
Long a perennial teen hangout, Metrocenter was featured in the 1989 movie “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” starring Keanu Reeves.
But foot traffic declined and the mall closed in mid-2020 during the pandemic.
Project timelines for transformation of the site include completion of real estate transactions this summer, demolition over the fall and winter and the start of construction in early 2023.
All four phases of construction of the project, dubbed the Village, would be completed in 2029, with 3,200 housing units and close to 400,000 square feet (37,000 square meters) of retail stores, restaurants, service companies and offices. There also will be multiple parking garages.
Dozens of residents who live near the mall attended a community meeting Monday night to learn more about the project.
“I want to see this community to be improved and for all families to feel welcomed and to feel safe,” said resident Estanislao Hurtado III, a father of five.
Developer spokesman Chris Anderson said the 600 apartments in the first construction phase would be considered what he described as “attainable.”
“We realize the demographic that’s here, and we’re not trying to displace people out of this demographic, out of this neighborhood. We want people that are coming in, that are going to add to it, not completely transform it, you know, into a way that you can’t afford to live here anymore,” he said.
Several residents questioned whether such a large project would lead to more crime, but Anderson said a planned space for police officers to park and work would help deter crime.
A light rail extension will reach by the completion of the project’s first phase.
The only businesses that will escape demolition are a nearby Walmart Supercenter, a storage business and possibly Harkins Theatres.
“In talking with the Harkins people, they really want to create that as one of their newer concepts that’ll have a restaurant in there, have new state-of-the-art theaters and really it’ll kind of spill out into the park area there,” Anderson said.
Along with Hines, an international real estate firm, the development group includes Concord Wilshire Capital and TLG Investment Partners.
Phoenix in 2014 designated the mall as a redevelopment area and the City Council later approved a zoning change to allow mixed-use development of commercial outlets and housing.
Christine Mackay, the city’s economic development director, said her team talked with 24 developers over the years about the project.
“They were either underfinanced; they were all mouth, no trousers; they didn’t want to do what the city wanted them to do; didn’t want to do what the community had shared with me was of interest to them in the redevelopment of Metrocenter,” said Mackay.
That was until developer No. 25 showed up. Mackay said.
After talking with Steve Sirang, chairman of Concord Wilshire, she knew that his company, Hines and TLG Investment Partners, could pull off the project.
According to a city report, the completed project will have a total capital investment of $935.9 million.