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Redevelopment plans for former Metrocenter Mall moving forward after final Phoenix City Council vote

Redevelopment plans for the former Metrocenter Mall are moving forward after a final vote by the Phoenix City Council on Wednesday. 

The developer will receive a second tax break for a project that’s expected to be worth more than a billion dollars at full build-out. In May, the council approved a $68 million deal that will allow the developer to skip paying some taxes in exchange for building public parking garages.

Wednesday’s council action involved a government property lease excise tax, known as a GPLET. For each housing phase of the project, the developer will pay an excise tax rather than a property tax for 25 years. Similar tax deals have been offered to developers to build high-rise apartments downtown. 

The 80-acre project is expected to have more than 3,000 multi-family housing units when completed, along with retail, restaurants, hotels and public green space. 

Councilwoman Ann O’Brien represents the Metrocenter area at Interstate 17 between Dunlap and Peoria avenues.

"The continued advocacy and love for the area is in part what drew the developers to want to commit to this." — Councilwoman Ann O'Brien

“The continued advocacy and love for the area is in part what drew the developers to want to commit to this. They see the potential of the region and it’s because of awesome neighbors,” she said.

As part of the deal, the developer will contribute $1.5 million  to the city’s affordable housing trust fund or another council approved fund. The payment is included in amended GPLET policies approved by the council just 24 hours earlier.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, Mayor Kate Gallego said the Metrocenter vote comes “at the same time we are making exciting investments from Park Central Mall to Paradise Valley Mall. We had a delegation visiting from a Chamber of Commerce in Texas today. They are interested in how we are doing these types of projects, it’s becoming a national model.”

When Metrocenter Mall opened in 1973, it was believed to be the first mall west of the Mississippi River to have five department stores. For many years, it was a destination for shoppers, ice skaters, and video game fans. The mall served as a backdrop in action scenes in the 1989 movie, “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” 

After years of decline, the mall officially closed in 2020.The new owners, Concord Wilshire Capital and TLG Investment Partners, will work with Hines Development to create what they call a community-drive walkable village in three phases. Demolition is expected to begin in early 2023.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.