After completing a $25 million facelift on the 30-year-old Arizona Center in Downtown Phoenix, owners of the one-million-square-foot development have started work to add boutique high-rise hotel and apartment towers to the 30-year-old office, shopping, and restaurant development. The recently completed renovation achieved the modern urban look and feel that owners Parallel Capital Partners and Angelo, Gordon, and Co. envisioned.

Arizona Center renovation

Image: Chamber Business News

First opened in 1990, the Arizona Center attracted thousands to downtown Phoenix days of celebration, as prominent retailers including Gap, Victoria’s Secret and The Legacy moved in, along with popular chain restaurants and later a 24-screen AMC theater. The now iconic development was considered one of the original elements of an ongoing downtown Phoenix revitalization campaign launched in the late 1980s – early 1990s.

However, construction of the original Arizona Center began just before the Valley’s real estate market and the economy began to decline and its opening coincided with a national recession.

Developed to attract people to Downtown Phoenix at a time when most of the population was relocated to the suburbs, the downtown area offered almost no housing opportunities. Without residents, it became a virtual ghost town at night and on weekends. While the Arizona Center failed to attract enough visitors or new development to the area to meet developers’ expectations, it eventually played an important role in downtown Phoenix’s recovery.

Designed before open outdoor shopping became popular, the Arizona Center’s appeal was eclipsed by newer developments like CityScape, the city’s other large mixed-use development, which opened in 2010 (phase 1) and 2012 (phase 2).

When the current owners bought the 16-acre development for $126 million in 2015, many of its retail tenants had left. The new owners are filling vacancies with new restaurants including Freshii, Kwench Juice Café, and Bosa Donuts.

The shortage of permanent upscale apartment and condominium housing in the downtown area back in 1990 contributed significantly to the original development’s mediocre performance.
But the new owners aren’t overlooking the demand for housing and hotel accommodations this time around. Construction is already underway on a 13-story AC Hotel tower by Marriot with 199 rooms featuring an indoor/outdoor lounge overlooking the Center’s urban park, the Grotto. Later this year, construction is scheduled to begin on the 31-story Palm Tower apartment building, which will help meet the demand for affordable housing downtown.

Upon completion of the two towers, only one vacant parcel will remain undeveloped at the Arizona Center.

The development’s recently completed renovation features new lounge areas, lighting, bike racks, outdoor furnishings, shade structures, valet parking, an entertainment stage and a 60-foot LED jumbotron close to the AMC theater.

The Center’s upgrades bring hip new energy to the heart of Downtown Phoenix that appeals to a large audience of people who prefer urban living according to Matt Root, managing partner for Parallel Capital Partners.

“As we add tenants, Arizona Center will continue to become an even bigger hub for meeting up with friends and family,” Root says.

Back in 1990, workers in the downtown area had no reason to stick around after quitting time. There was little shopping or restaurants to entice people to stay after work.

Now, the area from Seventh Avenue to Seventh Street between McDowell Road and Lincoln Street is experiencing a construction boom of new apartments, condominiums, restaurants, offices and stores—including downtown Phoenix’s first major grocery store—either underway or recently completed.

Today, the 100-year-old downtown neighborhood of Roosevelt Row ranks among the most popular communities in the U.S. Downtown Phoenix is transforming historic buildings into trendy offices, charming retail spaces and sought-after homes in the city’s core. The growing ASU campus population of about 12,000 students who are taking classes and working on research and service projects in the community are drawn to downtown Phoenix for housing and entertainment choices.

And a growing number of companies from around the Valley and across the country take advantage of the growing worker pool and be near ASU.

According to Downtown Phoenix Inc, more than $5.5 billion in public and private money has been invested in transportation, development, education, sports, technology and art projects in downtown Phoenix since 2005—and that’s in addition to the $25 million spent on the renovating the Arizona Center.

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Arizona Center Downtown Phoenix