The Phoenix Business Journal wrote an article abut the North 32nd Street revitalization.
Phoenix revitalization vision could redevelop strip malls
The city of Phoenix is looking at a plan to revitalize neighborhood commercial areas and help landowners revamp or remove excess or outmoded strip malls.
The recession was a death knell for many strip malls. Today, they have high vacancy rates and some four-corner locations have more shop space than shop potential. As the centers decline in occupancy, quality of stores and viability, the buildings do as well. Phoenix is considering an initiative that will reverse the trend.
“Freeways put an end to that drive-by traffic,” said Phoenix Community and Economic Development Director Christine Mackay. “Take 32nd Street from Shea Boulevard to Union Hills Drive. After SR 51 opened, traffic on the street dropped from 50,000 vehicles per day to around 10,000 vehicles. That’s taking 80 percent of the customers away from the stores.”
Most often referred to as “strip malls” to reflect the linear design, the centers typically featured plenty of local or neighborhood-oriented business. Customer traffic came from nearby with the growing number of commuters spilling out of subdivisions further up the road.
But as freeways began to snake across the Valley — starting in 1990 when Interstate 10 was extended through the city — the centers started drying up as commuters took to the highways.
“The movement of traffic away from the neighborhood centers really cut into businesses’ abilities to survive,” said Mackay. “It also hurt revenue streams for shopping center owners. Space became vacant and some centers started to look shabby.”
For 32nd Street, the effort is ongoing because there are no funds to improve the segment. That is not stopping stakeholders from putting ideas on the table through council members Jim Waring and Bill Gates.
“We’ve been meeting in other neighborhoods as well, and people are saying that they want to have a neighborhood ‘center’ that’s walkable,” Mackay explained. “The city is going to take a look at the various blocks and work with land owners to see what kinds of different development might be better to bring back vitality.”
Mackay said residents would like something to provide a neighborhood anchor or attraction.
“We could look at a business or city service branch moving into a neighborhood as one idea,” she explained. “In other cases, where a neighborhood center may be obsolete, we could explore changes in zoning to better use the property to meet current neighborhood and market needs.”
As a community we can help turn the neighborhood around.