Goodyear’s Regional Mall Plan Erased After 15 Years of Delays. Here’s What to Expect Instead

Article originally posted on AZ Central on January 11, 2022

Workers build a railing in January 2009 along Bullard Wash, near where a Westcor mall was expected to go up.

Two old plans for regional malls in Goodyear are getting wiped from the books, a move that follows years of delays and a changing market.

A Westcor-planned mall, first announced in 2006, will be re-envisioned this year, likely into a mix of housing, retail shops and restaurants.

An even older, and less detailed, plan for a regional shopping area in the Estrella community is expected to mostly become housing.

“One was kind of a fantasy and one was reality. And now that reality is changing,” Goodyear City Councilmember Bill Stipp told The Arizona Republic.

Southwest valley news: Shops, restaurants and entertainment options coming to Surprise

Re-envisioning regional mall site

Globe Land Investors, the same company that is developing Goodyear’s Civic Square, purchased land at Bullard Avenue and McDowell Road from Westcor in June.

Westcor, a national mall developer now part of Macerich, had for years delayed plans to build a regional mall there.

The Goodyear City Council, at the close of 2021, updated its agreement to reflect Globe as the new owners and to buy time to create new development plans.

Mike Olson, chief financial officer for the Scottsdale-based Globe, anticipates those plans will be announced this year.

He said to expect a mix of uses for the land. “There will still be some retail but different from a regional mall,” he said.

Olson said they have gotten interest from residential developers, large retailers and restaurants, but they are in the early planning stages.

From his perspective, he said it’s fortunate that Westcor didn’t build the regional mall planned 15 years ago. “Most of them don’t work,” he said.

He said new plans would “make a lot of sense for the whole community.”

Joe Pizzillo, recently appointed mayor of Goodyear, echoed that sentiment, saying malls are “not really the way of the world right now.”

A shopper in 2013 leaves the Market at Estrella Falls in Goodyear, near the site once expected to be Estrella Falls shopping mall.

He hopes to see the area that was expected to become the southwest Valley’s first regional malltransformed into an entertainment district with high-quality restaurants and shops.

People now turn to online shopping over malls, Pizzillo said. E-commerce increased from $5 billion to $519.6 billion from 1998 to 2018, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The Great Recession more than a decade ago is what originally delayed building the mall.Stipp said that about five years ago he realized the regional mall wasn’t going to happen, but the COVID-19 pandemic “put the nail in the coffin.”

The pandemic may have been the final hit to indoor mall plans, but it has bolstered retail sales in West Valley communities, according to Jeanine Jerkovic, who oversees economic development in Surprise, which is north of Goodyear in the West Valley.

“Instead of the world falling apart in Surprise, we saw a dramatic increase in our retail revenues,” Jerkovic recently told The Republic.

That demand led a developer to begin building a 700,000 square-foot open air shopping, restaurant and entertainment project called Village at Prasada, near Loop 303 in Surprise.

The project isn’t the 6 million square feet of retail space and an indoor mall, which Surprise also envisioned some 15 years ago, but Jerkovic said the overall vision has held together — more shopping and luxury homes.

More: Developer plans to demolish shuttered Metrocenter Mall

Goodyear paying on infrastructure costs

 While Goodyear’s regional mall never happened, Westcor did build roads, installed infrastructure and opened the Market at Estrella Falls shopping area and a Harkins movie theater.

The city still owes the developer for some of those improvements.

Goodyear had agreed to reimburse Westcor 50% of retail sales tax from the mall and shopping center to help pay for infrastructure.

The developer spent approximately $43 million on the improvements around McDowell Road, Bullard Avenue and Estrella Parkway, according to city documents.

Goodyear agreed to reimburse the developer approximately $41 million of that, and has so far paid nearly half, according to Doug Sandstrom, the city’s finance director.

“We pay about $2 million a year to the developer on this, so there’s probably around 10 years left that we would be continuing to repay,” he said.

The sales tax rebate ends once Goodyear has paid off its balance.

The timeline could shrink if new retail is built on the site planned for the regional mall.

Despite the millions spent on infrastructure with the expectation of a regional mall that didn’t happen, Stipp and Pizzillo say it was a good investment.

Sandstrom said the investment set the area up for development, even if what ends up coming is different than originally envisioned.

Estrella Says Goodbye to a Regional Mall

Goodyear leaders and developers also have changed plans for land long ago envisioned for a regional mall in the Estrella master planned community.

The plan for a portion of Estrella, at the northeast corner of Estrella Parkway and Willis Road, originally was adopted in 1988 and designated 521 acres for commercial and employment uses.

At the time, the still unbuilt Loop 303 was expected to run through the area. But the freeway changed locations and developers recently requested designating 481 of those 521 acres for neighborhoods, leaving 40 acres as business and commerce.

“It just isn’t realistic in this area” to use 521 acres for a regional mall or commercial area, Andrew Yancey, an attorney representing the developers, told city planning officials.

The council approved the change in December. Stipp said the plan was never detailed, but was more of a placeholder — one that needed updated with the times.

Harvard Investments, Toll Brothers and Värde Partners bought Estrella’s remaining undeveloped 18,000 acres for $212.5 million in October. They plan to submitted additional planning and rezoning requests this year.

The Republic’s Wyatt Myskow contributed to this article.

Reporter Maritza Dominguez can be reached at maritza.dominguez@arizonarepublic.com or 480-271-0646. Follow her on Twitter @maritzacdom.

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