Nothing lasts forever, but the iconic Metrocenter Mall in North Phoenix had a pretty good run. Now, after sitting vacant for nearly two years, the mall will be demolished this year. In its place, The Village, a residential and mixed-use community spanning the 68-acre property.
A shopping and entertainment mainstay for area residents for more than three decades, Metrocenter Mall opened in 1973. The mall had experienced years of decline before finally closing permanently in summer 2020. Then, in early December 2021, Concord Wilshire Capital and TLG Investment Partners announced that they had contracted to acquire the North Phoenix mall and planned to invest roughly $750 million to redevelop and repurpose the property. The transaction is scheduled to close in the second half of 2022.
Described as a community-driven walkable village, the new development will bring another 100,000 square feet of new retail stores and restaurants to complement existing amenities such as Harkins Theatres, Life Storage and Walmart Supercenter, which will all remain in place. Other adjacent amenities already in place include the Cholla Branch Library and Castles & Coasters.
The plans also call for 2,600 multifamily units that will be “attainably priced rental apartments,” according to the developers, who say they believe that far too much of the housing that is being built today is unattainable.
“Both for sale and for rent housing are being built at prices that people can’t afford; that the real workers in this area can’t afford,” said Steven Betts, counsel to Concord-Wilshire and the development team.
Betts added that the planned rental units will offer different configurations to meet various housing needs — from individuals to larger families — but that all will be “quality housing in an urban village, much like you would see in a European village,” with the kind of density found in an urban core at four and five stories in scale, and an attainable price point.
The goal to create a walkable community, connecting The Village to the Arizona Canal and Rose Mofford Park, on the east side of I-17, includes Phase II of the Valley Light Rail Northwest Extension. Slated to be completed in 2024, which will closely coincide with the first phase of the new development, the light rail brings another element of accessible transportation to the area, and visitors to the development.
Phase II connects Valley Metro’s light rail system from 19th and Dunlap avenues and extending it 1.6 miles to a park-and-ride transit center at the former Metrocenter Mall. It includes three new stations, including the system’s first elevated station (adjacent to The Village), and public art.
Under construction since late 2020, Valley Metro completed a major milestone in the project in mid-January this year with the installation of steel tub girders for the rail-only bridge that spans 250 feet over the I-17.
After witnessing the downturn that has taken place in recent years, many residents are anxious for the re-development of the area to succeed, but there is still some lingering nostalgia for what the mall once was.
Betts addressed whether some of the aesthetic from the former mall would be included in the new development, stating, “Everything is on the table right now for discussion, but we would like to make sure that we do pay respect to what was a remarkable asset for our community for so long.”