The currently empty former Kmart building is shown with a rendering of a possible design for the forthcoming Innovation 27 (photo courtesy of City of Phoenix)

The City of Phoenix announced in March a projected timeline for a new workforce training facility known as Innovation 27.

In hopes of partnering with community members to revitalize the area, along with the redevelopment of Metrocenter and nearby health care facilities, the City of Phoenix purchased the former Kmart building located at the northwest corner of I-17 and Northern Avenue. Plans are underway for renovations of the site to transform it into a state-of-the-art workforce training and education facility, appropriately named the Innovation 27 Workforce Training and Education Collaborative.

The city, along with education partners Arizona State University (ASU), Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), and Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), intend to provide advanced education opportunities and workforce development to support this area of Phoenix in both its workforce and businesses. The former Kmart building has been vacant for the past five years and is one of the last remaining large infill sites located along a major freeway in Phoenix that is available for redevelopment.

In 2022, the Phoenix City Council approved the 27th Avenue Corridor Community Safety and Crime Prevention Plan, which directly focuses on the community. The city says that Innovation 27 is an essential part of the solution to help combat those safety and economic issues. Area residents currently experience barriers to education opportunities, food deserts, and access to transportation to other training facilities in the Valley.

Training opportunities anticipated for this site are expected to prepare individuals for careers in the semiconductor, public safety, bioscience, information technology, food innovation and healthcare fields. Programs and classes in the buildings are estimated to begin in the fall of 2024.


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