Big Changes Coming To Metrocenter Mall In Phoenix

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, September 7, 2015 - 10:23am
Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 10:15pm
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Kathy Ritchie/KJZZ
Several major retailers have left the Metrocenter area in recent years.

What’s the one thing you remember about Metrocenter mall in north Phoenix?

If you’ve lived in the Valley for a while, you might say the ice skating rink or those “no cruising” signs. But for newer transplants, the response might be less nostalgic. But the mall is slowly making a comeback.

Metrocenter has had its share of ups and downs. When it first opened 40 years ago, it was the place to go. And if you were in Hollywood, Metrocenter was the place to film a movie, like "Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure."

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But newer malls eventually opened, and then the recession hit. The mall started losing stores — big ones.

"For so many years, we’ve had this undeserved reputation. There’s crime everywhere in city and our crime rate has been lower than a lot of other areas, but you know you keep hearing these urban myths out there about Metrocenter," said neighborhood resident Gail Morgan.

Gail Morgan has lived in the area since the late 1970s. She’s also a member of the Metro Block Watch and the Metro Business Association. Morgan is one resident who supports what’s happening at Metrocenter.

In 2012, the Carlyle Development Group bought the mall, and earlier this year they made a deal with Wal-Mart. Crews are now demolishing the old Broadway Southwest Building to make way for the big box retailer, which will open its doors in mid-2016.

"Retailers follow retailers," said Carlyle COO Warren Fink. "And with Walmart going up and if we can Make this deal with this next retailer, we fully expect that other retailers will start stepping up behind them."

And it’s not just retail that Fink hopes to lure to the area.

"We are in the process of finalizing our application to rezone entire project, over 100 acres and bring in other uses, such as medical office, health care buildings, corporate offices, senior housing, moderate-income housing, education, possibly," he said.

Change isn’t always easy for some. If Carlyle Development gets its zoning changes, they’ll also being able to construct buildings that are 16 and 17 stories high.

Morgan is OK with that. She just wants to see more people coming back to Metrocenter. And with the passage of Proposition 104, they might be coming on the light rail.

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