'Amazing' Opportunities Coming To Former Kmart In Phoenix

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 8:08am
Updated: Friday, June 18, 2021 - 8:04am

big empty parking lot
Jeff Spellman
The former Kmart sits on a 10.5 acre parcel just off Interstate 17 at Northern avenue in Phoenix.

Phoenix is moving forward with plans to turn a former Kmart store into a center that offers education and workforce training. 

The City Council wants to transform acres of asphalt and an empty 118,000-square-foot building into an innovation center.

On Wednesday, the council voted to enter into agreements with the Maricopa County Community College District, Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) and Arizona State University to assess the property. 

Councilwoman Betty Guardado, whose district includes the site on Northern Avenue, just off Interstate 17 said, "What we’re going to be bringing into the corridor is going to be incredibly amazing, opportunities for people to be reskilled, opportunities for our youth in that area."

Kmart I-17 Phoenix
Gabe Saia
Aerial view of the Kmart at I-17 and Northern Avenue before the store closed in October 2018.

Last week Phoenix approved using $15 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to leverage funding from other sources to buy and rehabilitate the former Kmart. The goal is to eventually have the community college district, West-MEC and ASU take over operations and maintenance. 

Residents and neighborhood leaders have been working to fill the vacant space since 2018. They initially envisioned a center focused on food where people could share kitchen and storage space, house food trucks and catering companies, and offer dining experiences, but a consultant pointed out a recurring theme among the community: the importance of education and the vision evolved.

Potential uses now include:

  • Culinary support services hub.
  • K-12 and community college education.
  • Business incubation.
  • Workforce development.
  • Skills/technical training center.

Wednesday’s vote means Phoenix and its partners will each contribute $9,000 for. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. to complete a building assessment before beginning the adaptive reuse process.

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

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