Metrocenter (Phoenix, Arizona)

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Metrocenter
Location Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Address 9617 North Metro Parkway West, Phoenix, Arizona 85051
Opening date 1973
Developer Westcor and Homart Development Company[1]
Owner Carlyle Development Group
No. of stores and services 100+
No. of anchor tenants 5 (2 open, 3 vacant)
Total retail floor area 1,391,859 square feet (129,307.9 m2) (GLA)
No. of floors 2
Website Metrocenter

Metrocenter is a super-regional shopping mall in northwest Phoenix, Arizona. It is bounded roughly by Interstate 17, 35th, Dunlap and Peoria Avenues. Its current anchor stores are a Dillard's clearance center and a Sears. The mall features more than 100 stores, a 12 screen movie theater, and a food court. Since January 2012, the mall has been owned by the Carlyle Development Group based in New York City.

Parts of the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure were filmed in the mall.

History[edit]

Development[edit]

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.[1] 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 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."[1]

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.[2]

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.[3] The total cost of Metrocenter was estimated at $100 million.

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.[4] Shoppers initially came from as far away as Flagstaff and Tucson to see and to shop at the large mall.

Metrocenter became the model for later Westcor master-planned developments around Phoenix, such as Paradise Valley Mall.

Decline and renovations[edit]

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.[5] Crime in the mall's neighborhood and parking lot increased. Local car enthusiasts started cruising the mall in the early 80's, driving their cars around the property and socializing. Later Phoenix Police began blocking traffic for the "cruisers", which also inconvienced mall goers and led to a decline in weekend patronage.

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.

Facing 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. [6] More than 300 trees were removed [7](most of them eucalyptus) and desert-friendly landscaping was planted. [8].

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. [9] 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. [10]

On April 6, 2010 Jones Lang LaSalle took over management and 15% ownership of Metrocenter Mall from Macerich.

Redevelopment[edit]

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.

In June 2016, a massive redevelopment of Metrocenter was approved by the Phoenix City Council. Metrocenter will undergo a massive revitalization that will bring more retail and restaurants as well as office buildings, apartments, senior housing, and health-care facilities to the mall.

The City of Phoenix rezoned the mall to allow office, medical and residential space; it had been zoned for solely retail use.[2]

Anchors[edit]

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 on the ground level overlooked by a bar built to resemble the fuselage of an airliner. [11] [12]

The ice rink closed in 1990.[13]

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 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. In January 2015, Macy's announced it was closing its Metrocenter location by early spring, citing a nationwide reorganization.[3] The store closed in June.

Dillard's converted to a clearance center in 2009, closing the first level of its store.

In June 2014, it was announced that a Walmart Supercenter would open, taking over the space occupied by the vacant Broadway building. Demolition of the vacant store was originally scheduled for a mid-July 2015 start with the Walmart scheduled to open in early 2016. The exterior demolition did not start until August 10, 2015. Official construction began on July 20, 2016, and the new Supercenter is set to open in Spring 2017.[4]

Department Stores & Anchors[edit]

Neighborhood[edit]

Metro Parkway (a four-lane divided road) completely encircles the mall and all associated parking areas. On the 'outside' of the parkway, many business buildings have been built over the years. Though most are restaurants and fast food places, there are hotels, a library, auto repair, sports store, electronic stores, a bookstore, a comic book store.

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.

After Metrocenter was built, three major banks had stand-alone branches built on the property or across the street. The unique aspect about these branches is that their architectural designs closely followed the architectural designs of three of the anchor stores.

One of the larger stores built around 1990 on the 'outside' of Metro Parkway west of the southern entrance was a Phar-Mor that later became a Best Buy. The remaining strip also contained a Sports Authority, CompUSA and several other smaller shops and restaurants. This strip mall is all but vacant except for a few remaining restaurants.

Intermittently, a seasonal Halloween costume company would rent out either part of the old Broadway store or the empty Best Buy store. This company would usually move in in mid-August and close a day or two after Halloween.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jarman, Max (March 3, 2010). "Westcor abandoning Metocenter mall". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Demolition planned for mall in Phoenix blight area". azfamily.com. Oct 15, 2016. Retrieved Oct 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ Andy Brownfield (2015-01-08). "Macy's closing Metrocenter store, 13 others across country". Phoenix Business Journal (via Cincinnati Business Courier). Retrieved 2015-01-08. 
  4. ^ http://kjzz.org/content/186748/construction-new-wal-mart-begins-phoenix-metrocenter-mall
^ 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. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°34′30″N 112°07′17″W / 33.5750°N 112.1215°W / 33.5750; -112.1215