Metrocenter (Phoenix, Arizona)
|Location||Phoenix, Arizona, USA|
|Address||9617 N. Metro Pkwy West, Phoenix, AZ 85051|
|Developer||Westcor and Homart Development Company|
|Owner||Carlyle Development Group|
|No. of stores and services||100+|
|No. of anchor tenants||5 (3 open, 2 vacant)|
|Total retail floor area||1,391,859 square feet (129,307.9 m2) (GLA)|
|No. of floors||2|
Metrocenter is a super-regional shopping mall in northwest Phoenix, Arizona. It is bounded roughly by Interstate 17, 35th, Dunlap and Peoria Avenues. Its anchor stores include Macy's, Dillard's clearance center, and Sears, with two vacant anchors last occupied by Macy's (which moved from its first location to its current location, a former Robinsons-May, in 2006) and JCPenney. The mall features more than 100 stores, a 12 screen movie theater, and a food court, and since January 2012, has been owned by the Carlyle Development Group based in New York City.
Metrocenter was a joint venture of Westcor, a regional shopping center development firm headed by a group of real estate investors and developers led by Russ "Rusty" Lyon, Jr., and Homart Development Company, the real estate division of Sears, Roebuck and Company. The project was announced in November 1970, the first site plans and artist renderings announced in the spring of 1972, and construction beginning in June 1972. The mall was opened for business in October 1973, and when it opened as the first two-level, five-anchor mall in the U.S., it was the largest shopping center in Arizona and was considered one of the largest shopping centers in the United States.
The original anchor stores were Sears, Rhodes Brothers, Diamond's, Goldwater's, and The Broadway. All of the anchors opened in 1973, save for Sears which opened in 1974. The mall had an ice skating rink and a bar in the fuselage of a 747 airliner.  
The 1,400,000-square-foot (130,000 m2) mall was built on 312 acres (1.26 km2) in an area of Phoenix that was a sparsely populated residential district at what was then considered the northern edge of town (the area was actually an unincorporated part of Maricopa County which was annexed by the city of Phoenix because of the project). Lyon's firm correctly noted that population growth would favor northwest Phoenix. After the site was chosen, "...from then on, it was a matter of appealing to the marketing acumen of the major department stores. They didn't take much convincing."
There was some initial opposition to the project from neighborhood residents who feared heavy traffic generated from major retailers as well as buildings which exceeded height limits. As a result, there were some delays in the rezoning of the land by the city of Phoenix, but residents' fears were eventually addressed to their satisfaction. A lawsuit filed by the "Deer Valley Residents Association" was dropped by late September 1972. (In later decades, several office complexes and a few mid-rise hotels, including a 342-room Sheraton, would be built in the nearby area.)
In June 1972, the First National Bank of Arizona (now the Arizona operations of Wells Fargo Bank) made a $21 million loan to the developers, which was the largest commercial real estate loan ever made in Arizona up to that time. The total cost of Metrocenter was estimated at $100 million.
Shoppers initially came from as far away as Flagstaff and Tucson to see and to shop at the large mall. Over the years, other retailers and shopping centers also opened on or near Metro Parkway, the ring road surrounding the mall. The Phoenix Public Library has a major branch location on this ring road. Arizona's only Amusement park, Castles N' Coasters (Formerly Golf 'N Stuff), also circles the outskirts of the mall. Metrocenter became the model for later Westcor master-planned developments around Phoenix, such as Paradise Valley Mall.
Decline and Redevelopment
The mall started to decline economically after the 1980s; as the Phoenix area expanded, many of the immediate residential neighborhoods bordering Metrocenter became less middle-class/upscale and more working-class in demographics. Newer malls in more outlying communities took business away from Metrocenter. Crime in the mall's neighborhood and parking lot increased. Youth started cruising around the mall, driving their cars around the property, blocking traffic and entering the mall with no intention of patronizing businesses. The ice rink closed in 1990. The rink and MetroCenter can still be seen in their heyday in the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, which was filmed inside the mall.
In January 2004, Metrocenter was sold by DVM Co., a joint venture of Simon Property Group and Rusty Lyon, Jr., to a joint venture of The Macerich Company and AEW Capital Management. The new ownership brought back the founding developer, Westcor, by now an Arizona retail giant and subsidiary of The Macerich Co., to manage the property (Lyon left Westcor some years earlier). A complete renovation to the exterior was completed in December 2005.
Rhodes Brothers eventually converted to a JCPenney, The Broadway was acquired by Federated department stores in 1997, and converted to a Macy’s. Goldwater’s was converted to J.W. Robinson’s, which became Robinsons-May in 1993. After May department stores were acquired by Macy’s in 2006, Macy’s moved from the former Broadway to the Robinsons-May building, leaving the former Broadway vacant. JCPenney left the mall in 2007 and Dillard's converted to a clearance center, closing the first level of its store.
Facing such large vacancies, in 2005-2006, the exterior of the mall was improved. The parking lot was repaved and 35 percent more lighting was added. New "Metrocenter" signs were placed above the mall's entrances.  More than 300 trees were removed (most of them eucalyptus) and desert-friendly landscaping was planted. .
Metrocenter's interior was revamped in 2007. Diaper-changing stations and attendants were added to the restrooms. A nursing room,Wi-Fi access, and a community room with seating for up to 100 were added to the mall. The food court and play center were remodeled.  In November 2007, a closed-circuit camera television system was installed that is sophisticated enough to read the license-plate number of any car in the mall's parking lot. Public view monitors were installed at the entrances to the mall showing that entrance to people as they entered the mall. 
Later in 2010, the mall was put up for sale and in January 2012, the sale to the Carlyle Development Group for $12.2 million was finalized. The company has publicly stated that over a period of five to six years, it hopes to turn the property into a mixed-use development site, with retail, residential, medical and possibly college campus tenants.
Macy's, Sears, Dillard's Clearance Center, a 12-screen Harkins Theater, and Sports Chalet.
Over time, the mall's anchors have changed as a result of acquisitions and consolidation amongst department stores. Rhodes Brothers was converted to Liberty House, then to Joske's. After Joske's was acquired by Dillard's, the location became a second Dillard's, and then a JCPenney. JCPenney moved to Christown Spectrum Mall in 2007 and is currently vacant. The Broadway was converted to Macy's in 1996 when the Broadway chain was acquired. Goldwater's was converted to J.W. Robinson's, which became Robinsons-May in 1993. After Robinsons-May's parent company was acquired by Macy's, Macy's moved from the former Broadway to the Robinsons-May building, leaving the former Broadway vacant.
A 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) Sports Chalet store was signed in August 2006 to replace the vacant Van's Skatepark on the second floor of the mall near Sears.
Dillard's converted to a clearance outlet and closed its bottom floor in 2009 as a result.
- ^ September 30, 1973, page K1
- ^ September 1, 1972
- ^ June 9, 1972
- ^ May 6, 2006"Phoenix mall is getting extreme makeover inside and out". Arizona Republic. 2006-05-06.
- ^ July 25, 2008 "Metrocenter makeover under way". The Arizona Republic. 2008-07-25.
- ^ "Metrocenter: Part One of "Look What They’ve Done to My Mall, Ma!"". Phoenix New Times. 2008-05-12.
- ^ "Out on a Limb Branching out with the Tree Lady". Phoenix New Times. 2005-08-18.
- ^ "Metrocenter face-lift nears face-lift nears the finish line". The Business Journal of Phoenix. 2006-11-03.
- Gibbons, Christia (2006-08-28). "Metrocenter headed for final makeover phase". The Business Journal of Phoenix.
- "Phoenix's Metrocenter sold to Somera and AEW". The Business Journal of Phoenix. 2006-01-13.
- "Metrocenter makeover under way". The Arizona Republic. 2008-07-25.
- Metrocenter Mall Official website