What Will Become of Metrocenter Mall?
By Lauren Wong
The Metrocenter mall has seen its last days. It’s been officially announced that the beloved, historic Metrocenter will be demolished next year. After being on the decline for years, the building officially closed on June 30, 2020 after being open for almost 50 years. Opening in 1973, it was believed to be the first mall west of the Mississippi River to have five department stores, making it a prime destination for shoppers, ice skaters, and video game fans alike.
If you’ve seen “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” the time-travel comedy that starred Keanu Reeves over 30 years ago, you may remember spotting the Metrocenter. Some of the action scenes from the movie used the mall as a backdrop.
Sitting on 80 acres of land in the heart of Phoenix, the redevelopment of this location has potential to generate new jobs, get sales tax revenue, and boost nearby property values. It qualifies as an Opportunity Zone, meaning that it’s a federal destination for an economically distressed area. This also means that new investments may be eligible for tax incentives.
So what exactly is in the works? Concord Wilshire Capital and TLG Investment Partners are the new owners who will be working with Hines. The goal is to honor what was there by highlighting the mall’s history, while also creating a community-driven walkable village. Right off of Interstate 17, you can expect to see new restaurants and service retail stores in the makes, as well as the Dillard’s Clearance Center and Harkins Theater that are already there. Details are still in the works as they’re unsure if the name will stay as Metrocenter, but visitors may potentially see displayed art that incorporates Metrocenter signs, paying homage to what once was.
All of this work will be done in phases with construction costs estimated to come out to more than $750 million. Once the construction is completed they hope to have parks, an amphitheater, and over 2,600 apartments that will range in price. Christine Mackay, Phoenix Economic Development Director, said that future residents will likely be those who make 80 – 120% of the area’s median income.
In 2024, light rail construction is slated to begin which will eventually allow residents to travel downtown through Tempe and Mesa. If the City Council approves bonds to build public parking, they’re plan is to establish small, spread out parking that will accommodate residents, visitors, and light rail park-and-ride users.
Looking at the big picture, Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego expects that with all the mall redevelopment projects they’ve been doing, Phoenix will gain national attention. Her hope is that other cities can use their success in public-private partnerships and new amenities as an example to build up their own metropolitan area.