Arizona Center breaks up the old, reloads the new in $25 million renovation

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton breaks flagstone to signify the first of many changes in an effort to revitalize Arizona Center. (Photo by Chelsey Ballarte/Cronkite News)

New shops and other renovations are planned to draw people to the more than 25-year-old Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix. (Photo by Chelsey Ballarte/Cronkite News)

New stores, a valet service and the removal of two stairwells inside Arizona Center are among moves to revitalize the aging shopping area. (Photo by Chelsey Ballarte/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix is getting a multi-million dollar facelift.

“This marks the start of a multi-million dollar refresh project that will transform the way Arizona Center looks and feels and also the way it welcomes residents, students, employees and visitors to our downtown,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who drove a sledgehammer into a pillar to symbolically launch the redo.

Parts of a pillar lie in pieces on the floor after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton smashed it with a sledgehammer to launch construction of a revamped Arizona Center. (Photo by Chelsey Ballarte/Cronkite News)

The $25 million renovation plan includes installing large screens on the outside of the building for advertising, removing the escalators to create a more open-concept courtyard and adding valet parking. A hotel and multi-family housing also is proposed, with center leaders now negotiating with partners, according to a news release.

The center of shops, restaurants and a movie theater draws tourists from downtown hotels, workers from nearby businesses and some Phoenix area shoppers. But its owners want to transform the center, which opened in 1990, into more of a downtown destination.

Rafael Campos, store manager for Flag World, said he has high hopes for the project.

“We think it will be beneficial to our business if, when all the renovations are done, they are able to bring in more retail tenants because having more retail tenants in the center will bring in more local people,” Campos said.

Skanksa USA will manage construction for the project. Parallel Capital Partners owns and operates the center.

The center renovation starts Monday and is expected to take nine months.

Video by Janie Hoyt/Cronkite News