A bright spot during the COVID-19 pandemic is the tremendous growth in the number of businesses and homes cropping up in North Central and plans for more to open this year.

Commercial and multi-family construction activity decreased in the first half of last year around the United States except in Phoenix, according to “Construction Dive,” a construction industry publication. Construction starts, where ground is broken to begin building, in Phoenix increased by 82 percent during the first half of last year, “Construction Dive” reported. That is equivalent to almost $2.8 billion in project starts for that time period.

“We’re having a healthy influx of folks moving to Phoenix,” said Joshua Bednarek, deputy director of the city of Phoenix’s Planning and Development Department. “There are a lot of things to make this an attractive place to call home or open a business.”

One of the new developments is ARRIVE Phoenix, an ARRIVE Hotels location, that opened at 400 and 444 W. Camelback Road late last year. Vintage Partners, a real estate development company and Venue Projects, a Phoenix redevelopment practice, converted two buildings that had been used for offices previously into the main part of the hotel. Three additional buildings were erected between the two mid-century towers. The 79-room boutique hotel spans the two towers at Camelback Road and 4th Avenue. It features a popsicle shop that also serves as the registration desk; a Cartel Coffee Lab and Lylo Swim Club, a pool bar. Another part of the project, a penthouse cocktail lounge called Don Woods’ Say When is scheduled to open Feb. 1.

The pace of construction was slowed down through this pandemic and the hotel opened in September, later than originally planned, said Walter Crutchfield, partner with Vintage Partners and one of the project developers.

Elsewhere in North Central, Chipotle Mexican Grill opened last year at 1818 W. Bethany Home Road. A Chick-fil-A is expected to open soon at the same intersection of 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, said Christine Mackay, director of Community and Economic Development for the city of Phoenix. Fired Pie, a pizza chain restaurant, opened recently at 1810 W. Northern Ave.

Diller Grove at the Park, a new development of luxury custom homes, cropped up west of 15th Avenue and north of El Caminito Drive near Royal Palm Park. There were 11 homes constructed and 10 had been sold, as of press time, said Jay Khor, managing director at Conflux Real Estate, which brought the builder to the table. Prices for the homes range from about $950,000 to $1.3 million.

Khor said North Central has excellent schools, it is close to the city center and it offers many employment sources including hospitals, law firms, financial companies and restaurants.

Caroline Lobo, president of theHUB (Hatcher Urban Businesses) is pleased with the growth in the area.

“Our goal is to build up the community,” Lobo said. “It’s all about creating the sense that everything works together.”

Construction is underway on a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Northern Avenue. It will be about 4,800 square feet, said Aisha Jefferson-Smith, corporate communications manager for QuikTrip. It is expected to open this winter.

Several businesses are going to welcome customers in the coming months to a development on 16th Street, slightly north of Bethany Home Road near Matty G’s Steakburgers & Spirits. The site used to have Shasta Pools’ design center and one of the buildings there is being expanded, said Gabriel Howe, senior project manager with Point B Property Development. A coffee shop, dance studio, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza restaurant and optometrist are planning to open their stores there. The optometrist may open as early as this month.

Howe said he and his team had basically completed construction in January of last year but around March when the pandemic hit all but one of the businesses – Artichoke Basille’s Pizza – that had been planning to lease space there backed out.

“I think anybody would be naïve to say that they’re not concerned,” Howe said. “But we feel like they’re doing really well.”

Ron Marino, managing member of the upcoming Artichoke Basille’s Pizza on 16th Street and a location in Tempe, said since initially opening in New York in 2008 the pizza eatery has “become one of the most respected names for pizza lovers with an almost cult following.” Marino expects the restaurant will open in April.

“North Central Phoenix is a unique location because it’s central and relatively easy to get to from anywhere and the combination of so many people living in this diverse neighborhood and so many other great restaurants is very exciting,” he said.

David Richert, who Point B Property Development hired as a consultant to help with the development, said many people have moved to Phoenix from California and the East Coast recently. The 16th Street businesses will be popular among area families with children, Richert predicted.

“People have found that being in those neighborhoods that were created 40, 50 years ago, they’re attractive from anything to a tear-down to a total remodel to fixing up and they’re not overly expensive,” he said.



  • Colleen Sparks

    A 25-year industry veteran, she's written for a variety of outlets including The Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, Money Talks News, and North Central News.