Demolition to begin on iconic Metrocenter Mall ahead of major revitalization

May 5, 2023, 4:35 AM

PHOENIX — The area of now-shuttered Valley icon Metrocenter Mall is set to get a serious revitalization in the coming years.

Pre-demolition work starts Friday, making way for the approved $850 million redevelopment plans that will turn the Metrocenter area into the Metro District – a mixture of retail, restaurants and living space.

Developers, builders and government officials gathered inside the mall – which has been closed since 2020 – to celebrate the area’s future, and remember its past.

“The architecture and the project design really tries to honor Metrocenter, as does the new name,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

“We’re finding ways to take parts of our community that are so important and re-envision them so they can meet new needs, but still honor Phoenix history.”

For decades after it opened in 1973 as one of the largest malls in the country, Metrocenter was the place to shop, eat and meet up with friends. Gallego said the Metro District will look to serve many of the same purposes.

Besides food and shopping, the Metro District will feature 2,600 housing units, a large park with an amphitheater and a light rail station.

“You’ll be able to walk to great food, great shopping, and then hop on the light rail,” Gallego said. “There are beautiful mountain views behind the project, and it’s also right by the I-17.”

Steve Betts, a strategic real estate advisor for project developer Concord Wilshire Capital, said the housing the plan will provide will be especially important.

“We have a wonderful tidal wave of jobs coming to the Valley, but we’ve got to house them,” he said. “This kind of project is exactly what we need to get ahead.”

Betts credited the city of Phoenix for its role in making the revitalization project happen.

The Metrocenter area is in the district of Phoenix Councilwoman Ann O’Brien’s district. She’s looking forward to what the changes will bring to the area.

“As the first major mall in the region, this is truly the end of an era,” she said. “I’m excited to bring new life to Metro District.”

Being back in the mall undoubtedly stirred up some memories for O’Brien. Her first job was at a store in Metrocenter.

She wasn’t alone. As others attending the revitalization event took one last walk around the mall, they reminisced about teenage memories and tried to remember which empty storefronts they used to spend time in.

However, the mall had definitely seen better days. The parking lot was overtaken by weeds, some store windows were cracked or shattered altogether, and a layer of dust coated everything inside the mall.

“I’m sure many of use here have there own Metrocenter Mall memories, just as I do,” O’Brien said, standing in front of the mall’s now-inoperable, glass-encased elevator.

“This development will create a space that welcomes our families to make new memories.”

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Demolition to begin on iconic Metrocenter Mall ahead of major revitalization