What was once the largest mall in Arizona is now facing increased competition from retail "power centers," online shopping, and reduced consumer spending due to the economy.
Now, a plan is underway to revitalize Metrocenter Mall and the surrounding area.
Located at Interstate 17 and Dunlap Ave, Metrocenter has been an icon of the Phoenix landscape for over 40 years.
The mall opened in 1973 and saw its peak years in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 2000s it began to decline as two of the five anchor stores closed. Today, many of the storefronts inside the mall are vacant - including the McDonalds in the food court!
This is not the first effort to revitalize the mall. A $35 million facelift in 2005 repaved the parking lot, added additional lighting, and changed the character of the mall by modernizing its uniquely styled entrances.
The current plan to jump start the mall is a multi-phase plan that will require cooperation between the city and private developers.
First, the City of Phoenix is expanding the Metro Light Rail from Christown Mall to Metrocenter Mall. Metrocenter is already a transit hub with a bus transfer station on premises.
Construction is underway on bringing the tracks from 19th Ave and Bethany Home Road up to 19th Ave and Dunlap. The 3.2 mile extension will add three new stations and is scheduled to be completed in late 2015/early 2016. When completed, the extension will serve approximately 5,000 riders per day.
Second, Wal-Mart announced in the summer of 2014 that they plan to build a new store attached to the mall. The store will be located at the south end of the mall and would offer new jobs as well as increased sales. Wal-Mart built a store at Christown Mall as part of a revitalization effort there several years ago.
Finally, the City of Phoenix is looking to improve the surrounding area by fixing up the canal path with better landscaping and lighting, as well as cracking down on zoning violations in the neighborhoods surrounding the mall.
With new retail and improved transportation options, will Metrocenter once again become the bustling commerce and entertainment center of its glory days?