Attention, Phoenix Shoppers: Costco, JCPenney Leaving Christown Mall In September
Despite a petition drive initiated by Phoenix residents and city efforts to keep Costco at Christown Spectrum Mall, the multinational company will close its doors at the end of the day on Sept. 20. Then, on Sept. 27, JCPenney will ring up its final sales at Christown.
“It brings a lot of people from all over central Phoenix in,” said Pam Fitzgerald who lives nearby the mall located at 19th avenue and Bethany Home Road and helped gather petitions in hopes of getting Costco to stay. “It’s a big inconvenience to a lot of people who are avid Costco customers and I’m one of them.”
When word got out earlier this year that the members-only warehouse was leaving Christown, Vice Mayor Betty Guardado asked Phoenix’s Economic Development Director Chis Mackay to work with Costco and Kimco Realty which owns and operates the mall.
Mackay tried to convince Costco to stay by sharing data about the company’s trade radius — which is about halfway between stores. Mackay said the city presented $4 billion in public and private investment over the last five years and a population of 450,000 that’s projected to grow by 15,000 in the next two years.
“I think they were very impressed and they did call us back and for additional information,” she said.
Mackay told KJZZ she’s optimistic the company will keep its eyes on the central city — roughly from Interstate 17 to 16th Street and Camelback Road to downtown. But Fitzgerald is worried about the center’s future.
“If that space stays vacant, that mall’s dead,” she said.
"If that space stays vacant, that mall’s dead."
— Pam Fitzgerald
Costco would not comment to KJZZ other than to confirm the Sept. 20 closing date. The company’s website lists a new store opening in Surprise in September. Employees at Christown told shoppers the company offered them transfers to the Surprise location, which is more than 20 miles away.
“There’s a lot of elderly people in this area that aren’t going to be able to drive to Costco a million miles away,” Fitzgerald said. “I probably will dump my membership.”
July, JCPenney announced it would close 151 stores as part of organizational restructuring that will create a “smaller, more financially flexible company, and will help ensure JCPenney emerges from both Chapter 11 and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an even stronger retailer.”
When Christown Mall opened in 1961, it was the first air-conditioned indoor mall in Phoenix. It’s the only center in metro Phoenix to house a Costco, Super Target and a Walmart Supercenter. Anchors include Harkins Theatres, PetSmart and Ross Dress for Less.
A representative for Kimco Realty, the company that handles leasing for Christown Mall, told KJZZ they were unable to provide a comment by deadline. In February, Kimco said it was disappointed to learn Costco would not be renewing its lease and was committed to providing customers with the tenant mix that will best serve their needs and ensure the long-term health of the shopping center.
At the majority of its locations in the United States and Puerto Rico, Costco does not lease — rather it owns buildings and land. Out of 543 U.S. and Puerto Rico locations listed in its annual report, Costco owned 437. At 106 locations, the company either leased the land or building. Costco built its newest Arizona location near Loop 303 and Waddell Road in Surprise.
The multibillion dollar company currently lists 18 locations in Arizona. After the Christown Spectrum location closes, the nearest Costco Warehouse will be near 44th Street and Thomas Road. A Costco Business Center Warehouse is located near 33rd and Grand avenues, which has no tire center, pharmacy, optical department and other services and items provided at the Christown location.
“My hope is that they’ll bring in some cool businesses that will liven that place up again because if it stays vacant for much time, it’s just going to draw more and more and more homeless to hang there,” Fitzgerald said.
Mackay said Christown has become more of a focus for the city and the property owner is interested in refreshing and redeveloping the center.
Since 2018, Kimco said the following tenants have opened at Christown: Ulta, Q, Wetzel’s Pretzels, K-momo, Anytime Fitness, Modluxx (perfume), Olive Garden, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, Halal Guys and Great Clips.
In addition to its Christown location, JCPenney will close stores in Cottonwood at Little Creek Center and Tucson at El Con Shopping Center.