$25M Arizona Center Upgrade Focuses on Modernization, Sidewalk Experience
December 30, 2016 by Fara Illich
With the new year comes the transformation of one of downtown’s iconic structures: Arizona Center.
Built in 1990, Arizona Center spans two city blocks and is one of the largest assemblages of land in the Downtown Phoenix market. In 2015, the San Diego-based investment firm Parallel Capital Partners along with Angelo, Gordon and Co. purchased the 16-acre mixed-use complex, with plans to drastically upgrade the look and feel.
The proposed makeover could begin as early as Jan. 2017, and cost $25 million.
According to Matt Root, managing partner for Parallel Capital Partners, the refreshed design mirrors Phoenix’s changing urban center — catering to pedestrians, interacting with the sidewalk and maintaining connectivity to nearby amenities.
“We strongly believe that walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, better commutes, and proximity to the people and places you enjoy are the key to a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle,” he said.
The current facade along Third Street exemplifies part of Arizona Center’s introverted design, and is one of the areas targeted for changes. Instead of a sheer wall along the majority of the sidewalk with no retail or restaurant entry, save for a commercial loading dock, the space will be opened up with a valet parking entrance and glass walls.
Other upgrades include new landscaping, shade structures, lighting, outdoor Wi-Fi access, furnishings, wayfinding and branded signage, which will feature the new Arizona Center logo.
Aside from the the Grotto — the three-acre green space with gardens, fountains and water features — nearly every other element will change, according to Root. That includes the famous sandstone tiles featured throughout the complex.
“The goal is to create a more urban and modern feel,” he said. “The downtown destination will be a place that’s reminiscent of authentic Arizona, but revitalized.”
Concurrent with the planned refresh, Parallel is working with the city and numerous developers to increase residential, educational and hospitality density. On the 16-acre site, there are three parcels available: the southwest corner of Fillmore and Fifth streets, mid-block on Fifth Street between the parking structure and Two Arizona Center tower, and on the northwest corner of Van Buren and Fifth streets.
Potential developments for these sites could include high or mid-rise multi-family units, student housing, office space, specialty retail or a boutique hotel.
The opportunity to acquire the superblock, upgrade existing structures and add new developments offered one of the most compelling urban repositioning opportunities in the country, according to Root.
Parallel currently owns more than 2 million square feet of Phoenix office and retail space including Arizona Center, One North Central and City Square in midtown.
The investment group purchased Arizona Center for $126 million last year based on the strong, ongoing partnership between Arizona State University (ASU) and the City of Phoenix — ASU-Downtown is located next to the complex. Also, the $4.6 billion in private and public capital investments across downtown in the last 10 years laid the groundwork for a major redevelopment project like this, according to Root.
“This served as the element Downtown Phoenix needed to migrate from a stagnant 9-to-5 metro to a more vibrant 18-hour environment,” he said. “Our plan is to create a new model for office, retail, residential and entertainment — an icon for a new era.”