Vintage Partners, the Arizona-based commercial real estate development and investment company, announced its selection by Uptown Plaza Associates, LLC to lead the redevelopment of Uptown Plaza, the landmark 1950s era shopping center in central Phoenix on the NE corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road. Kicking off with a groundbreaking in September 2014 (exactly 59 years after Uptown Plaza’s original grand opening), this mindful renovation will restore the stylish, brick-lined Mid-Century Modern look to this iconic shopping center constructed in 1955 by the Del Webb Co. as the Valley’s first retail center located outside of downtown Phoenix. Most important, Vintage Partners is committed to recreating Uptown Plaza’s historic mix of inspired local restaurants and boutiques, thoughtfully paired with national brands, that together serve the needs of the neighborhood and make this shopping center a destination for Central Phoenix residents.
“Uptown Plaza Opens Wonderful New World Of Shopping Pleasure In Arizona’s Capital City” trumpeted the headlines back in 1955, noting the “record-breaking flow of cars and customers” drawn to this “modern brick, masonry and steel construction” with innovative features such as “the opportunity to park the family car free of care or cost … and walk a galaxy of new and shining stores,” while savoring the “attractive display windows brightly lighted for the evening window shopper until 11 o’clock each night.” And while this suburban shopping mall might have been a revolutionary experience at the time, it was the vibrant, wholly unique tenant mix that truly made Uptown Plaza a must visit. Including the swanky Navarre’s restaurant (currently Sweet Tomato’s) and the super-sleek Helsing’s Coffee Shop (demolished), Uptown was home to everything from Jerand’s of Arizona fine fashions and Bostrom’s department store, to the national grocery chain, Piggly Wiggly (currently AJ’s Fine Foods).
Today, however, Uptown Plaza is literally a shell of its old self, buried under decades of stucco and other outdated ‘improvements,’ and suffering from chronic vacancy due to its economic and physical obsolescence, says Vintage Partners Principal, David Scholl. “As longtime Phoenix residents and specialist in retail development, we felt this landmark property needed an infusion of capital and a carefully thought out renovation and re-merchandizing to restore Uptown Plaza as one of the Valley’s most desirable retail destinations.”
Designed by Nelsen Partners (Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter), the renovation plans are still being finalized as Vintage Partners and builder Kitchell Contractors determine how much of the original red brick façade (including many interior walls) can be preserved. However, the end results will combine a restoration of the classic lines and low-slung shapes with verdant new landscaping and modern amenities, including rebuilding the original 15-foot shade overhangs with cantilevers to achieve a sleeker, less cluttered look. In the near future, Vintage Partners will also be announcing plans for new tenants, including restaurant concepts from top local restaurateurs.
“We’re working with existing tenants, as well as securing the best mix of new local and national tenants to ensure that Uptown Plaza once again will thrive for generations to come,” Scholl says.