What kind of secrets and stories are buried beneath one of the city’s most iconic addresses?

That’s the question the team redeveloping the once-thriving Park Central Mall is about answer, thanks to a new partnership with Arizona State University. And if early findings are any indication, there’s a whole lot for history buffs to uncover.

Microfilm reels, news clippings, antique signage and old photos from the 1950s are among the many items found in a treasure trove discovered underneath the Park Central property in the renovation’s early days, and Phoenicians will soon have a chance to check it all out for themselves.

ASU researchers and librarians have signed on to help highlight, protect and preserve the rich history of the property through the creation of a “Park Central Mall Collection,” which will include the newly uncovered relics as well as oral histories from locals who have important stories to tell about the landmark.

Peoria-based Plaza Companies, in conjunction with Tucson’s Hoalualoa Companies, recently announced they were teaming up to redevelop Park Central Mall, which once held court as the city’s first official large-scale shopping mall. In addition to transitioning the expansive space from a retail center to a bustling community hub ideal for playing, working, congregating and celebrating the arts, the team behind the project is proud to announce that the rich history of the venue will undergo meticulous documentation along the way.

“This is a place that so many people in the Valley hold near and dear,” said Plaza Companies President & CEO Sharon Harper. “While we’re working to create a space that will once again serve as a hot spot for community gathering and activity, we also want to remember and preserve the things about the property that made it a special place for so many.”

Those looking to get a glimpse of Park Central Mall in its early days will be able to do so through a variety of methods. In addition to hard-copy documentation of the treasures found in Park Central’s basement, ASU staff, students and faculty will share their discoveries through social media, a designated website and a special “Park Central: History, Present & Future” event planned for May. The project’s history will also be memorialized on-site as well as part of the renovation process.

“Park Central Mall has a fascinating and important history, and we’re eager to gather this history and share it with as many people in the Valley as possible,” said Matthew Delmont, a director and professor at ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.  

Staff and faculty from ASU Libraries; the Nexus Digital Research Co-op; Institute for Humanities Research; and Public History will contribute to this project in the coming months.  “We’re honored to be a part of this effort to not only highlight the history of the property, but to set the stage for the next exciting chapter in the ongoing Park Central story,” Delmont said.  

Construction on Park Central is scheduled to be completed in late 2018. For more information on the project, visit www.parkcentralphoenix.com.

With offices in Peoria, Scottsdale and Tucson, Plaza Companies is a full-service real estate firm specializing in the management, leasing and development of medical office and commercial office properties, technology and bioscience facilities, mixed-use properties and senior housing communities. Since 1982, Plaza Companies has established a proud track record as a competitive, connected and conscientious real estate firm with partnerships throughout the industries it serves. For more information, visit www.theplazaco.com.

Holualoa Companies is a real estate investment firm focused on the successful acquisition, repositioning, redevelopment and disposition of real estate assets. Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, with offices in Phoenix, Santa Monica, Hawaii and Paris, its investments span the United States and Europe and include office, retail, industrial, multi-family, hotel and mixed-use investment properties. Holualoa is an experienced investor for its own account and on behalf of a select group of private investors.