Arizona’s Oldest Mall is Getting a Makeover

In the heart of Phoenix is Park Central Mall, a formerly iconic shopping center that has been a fixture in the city since 1957. The place has been sold to a group of investors that plan to give it a long awaited makeover.

Later this month the deal is expected to close and Plaza Cos. and Holualoa Cos. purchased it. At this time no purchase price was available.

Located on Central Avenue and Earll Drive, the majority of the former mall in the late 1990s was turned into data centers and office buildings. Also located at the center are a few popular restaurants too.

The former shopping center has 337,000 square feet and Plaza and Holualoa plan to “reinvent” the area to have it as a mixed-use hub in hopes to attract employers and restaurants to the space.

Not included in the sale are the former JC Penny building located at the northwest section and the Dignity Health building at the southwest corner of the former center.

Sharon Harper, CEO of Plaza, states, “We believe that Park Central lends itself to a remarkable opportunity for new economy workforce and businesses.”

She tells that the plans for the former mall include creative workspaces and offices, art, meeting spaces, shade, gathering places and having an indoor and outdoor environment “unlike any office campus in the area.”

This isn’t the first time Plaza and Holualoa have teamed up on a well-known redevelopment project in the Valley. They have joined forces on projects including ASU’s Innovation Center Skysong in Scottsdale.

Park Central Mall was Arizona’s first mall and built by brothers Ralph and A.J. Burgbacher on a former dairy site spanning 46-acres. Later on high-rises stretching Phoenix’s downtown north surrounded the shopping center.

When people fled to the new subdivisions and malls in the Valley suburbs during the 1980s, the mall began struggling. By 1992, the majority of Park Central Mall’s big department stores had closed.

During the past few years the comeback of Midtown with employment, housing and restaurant hub allows Park Central Mall to be a prime location to be redeveloped.

Stan Shafer, chief operating officer of Holualoa, states, “This is a complicated project, but the Plaza and Holualoa team understand how to create the kind of vibrancy and sense of place and connectivity so important in today’s environment.”

Currently there hasn’t been a set date for construction to begin but buyers did hire architect richärd+bauer and DPR Construction to start site plans. 

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