From Los Arcos to Paradise Valley to Metrocenter, Phoenix- area mall sites are making a comeback

Corina Vanek
Arizona Republic
May 1, 2023

Metro Phoenix is in the midst of a mall renaissance.

Shopping malls were once a main venue for entertainment, attracting shoppers into large department stores, catering to a wide variety of people eating in the food court and boasting other offerings, like skate parks, movie theaters and arcades.

However, as shopping habits changed, many malls fell from their former status as a main gathering place, and many across the Valley faced the wrecking ball to make way for new development.

While many have shuttered, some have stood up to the changing retail environment. Others have even thrived.

“The classic mall, the enclosed, two-level, air-conditioned mall has changed,” David Uhles, senior vice president of Western Retail Advisors, said. “Shopping behaviors have changed and the demand for experiences has shifted.”

In most markets, Uhles said, a few high-caliber malls can stand the test of time. Those malls, which often include high-end stores, can generally afford the high operating costs that come with such a large retail footprint.

For other malls, which were anchored by lower-end department stores, shifts to online shopping and other changes proved too much to handle. Mall staples, like Sears or JCPenney, have closed hundreds of stores in the past few years, leaving many shopping centers with large, empty stores and nothing to fill them.

When a major anchor closes, Uhles said mall owners often are left with few options, but some of the most successful mall operators have embraced new uses or attract new-to-market offerings. The closing of Chandler Fashion Center’s Nordstrom location could have created a major problem, he said. However, the space was taken by sporting goods store Scheels, which will open its only Arizona location at the mall.Other uses of former anchor stores have included gyms or entertainment venues.

Across the Valley, former malls are part of some of the largest redevelopment efforts, making way for business hubs, medical corridors, attainable housing neighborhoods and more.

Malls that are no more
Some malls across the Valley already have closed, and the space they once occupied will get new life. Often, the redevelopment plans are heavily focused on apartments.

Los Arcos: The former Los Arcos Mall in south Scottsdale was an enclosed shopping mall that was open for about 30 years before its demolition in 2000. The site was pitched as a location for the Coyotes arena, but the team ultimately went to Glendale. In 2005, Arizona State University and the city of Scottsdale agreed to partner on the site, which would eventually develop into SkySong, a mixed-use development that is primarily offices,but includes a hotel, apartments, restaurants and common areas where events are held. Plaza Cos. and Holualoa Cos., the co-developers of SkySong, later partnered again on the redevelopment of Park Central Mall.

Tri-City: Tri-City Mall in Mesa closed in 1998 and was completely demolished in 2006. Portions of the former mall made way for the light rail,which runs along Main Street. Tri-City Pavilions, a strip retail center anchored by a Safeway, was built in its place.

Park Central Mall: Unlike other former malls, Park Central’s buildings were repurposed and reused, not demolished. Most department stores were repurposed as offices, but other uses have also taken some of the space, including EOS Fitness, which will open a location in a former department store. Much of the parking lot space at Park Central has new uses, including Creighton University’s medical campus and an apartment complex. Still to come is a hotel and room for additional buildings. Park Central and the area around it was recently designated as a bioscience hub, the “Phoenix Medical Quarter, Global Advancement of Health and Education.”

Metrocenter: Once the largest indoor mall in the Southwest, Metrocenter is scheduled to meet the wrecking ball soon, after a group of developers bought it and have planned to develop a mixed-use development oriented toward housing. The project will include more than 2,600 apartment units, 150,000 square feet of commercial space, and a parking garage. The apartments will be “attainably priced,” but rents are not yet determined. Housing will offer both rentals and for-sale options. Other elements will include restaurants, bars, a park, and commercial and entertainment venues.
Paradise Valley Mall: Redevelopment is already underway at the former Paradise Valley Mall, now renamed PV. Phoenix-based RED Development is leading the redevelopment of the site, and the first phase includes an apartment complex, a Whole Foods Market and a Harkins dine-in theater. Life Time, a luxury gym, announced plans to open a luxury residential and fitness concept at PV. The 11-story development will include 300 apartment units, planned to open in 2026. A Life Time “athletic country club,” which will have gym equipment, group fitness classes, a rooftop pool and hospitality deck and a spa is also part of the project.

Fiesta Mall: DriveTime owner Ernie Garcia II’s real estate investment firm, Verde Investments, bought Fiesta Mall in Mesa and has submitted plans to the city to redevelop the nearly 80-acre site that could make way for multifamily housing, office space, commercial and open space.

Malls that are still open

Some malls have continued to stand the test of time, often by embracing different types of stores into their spaces. Discount centers and grocery stores have proven to remain a driver for consumers to malls.

Christown Spectrum: The mall remains open but is subject to a long-term redevelopment plan, executives from Kimco Realty, the mall’s owner, said. Kimco has submitted plans to build an apartment complex on a parking lot, which formerly held a Costco Auto Center.

The apartment is the first piece of the redevelopment at the site, which is supposed to take decades to complete. According to Kimco’s submittal to the city, the redevelopment effort will likely take 20 to 25 years. Large tenants at the mall include Ross Dress for Less, Walmart and Walgreens, and those stores remain open. Target owns its location and is not part of the redevelopment plans.

Desert Sky: The west Phoenix mall remains open and has several large tenants, including a Dillard’s Clearance Center, Burlington, Bath & Body Works, Famous Footwear and several other stores. The mall is described as a fully bilingual location.

Arizona Mills: The Valley’s largest indoor outlet mall has survived in Tempe, offering discounts on various brands and other entertainment uses, including an aquarium and movie theater.

Top-tier malls

For the region’s best-performing malls, exclusive offerings, high-end stores and embracing changes are paramount.

Scottsdale Fashion Square: The mall has continued as a successful, enclosed shopping center, but has also had to adapt with anchor stores closing. Scottsdale Fashion Square has filled former anchor spaces with an Apple store and a coworking space. Life Time also opened a new location near the mall. The mall opened a luxury wing with ultra high-end stores in 2018, and in 2022 announced plans to upgrade the south wing of the mall, anchored by Nordstrom.

Arrowhead Towne Center: The large West Valley shopping center remains one of the region’s top-tier malls, while also feeling the sting of shuttered anchor stores. Forever 21, which had a large store at the mall, closed and left its space vacant. In 2015, Macerich, Arrowhead’s operator, announced a major renovation to the Glendale mall, which added some new stores and upgraded common spaces.

Replacing the vacated Nordstrom site with new-to-market Scheels will help the mall continue as a destination shopping site, adding an exclusive offering. The mall also has the Valley’s only Crayola Experience venue, which offers attractions and art experiences for kids and families.

‘Lifestyle centers’ becoming popular

Many outdoor shopping centers have taken the place of the traditional indoor mall in the Valley. Shopping centers like Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, Tempe Marketplace, Desert Ridge Marketplace and Biltmore Fashion Park have remained strong, and many have embraced the need for experiences, rather than strictly retail sales.

Open-air shopping has proved successful for Phoenix-based Vestar, which has announced plans to build several more shopping centers around the Valley, and continues to seek new sites.

Two new restaurants sign on to open at Village at Prasada shopping center in Surprise

Two new sit-down restaurants have been unveiled for the planned 700,000-square- foot shopping, entertainment and dining center in Surprise, Village at Prasada, which is nearly 100% leased.

The two new restaurants, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, will be located within the development’s restaurant row, Street Fare at Alexandria. This will be the eighth Lou Malnati’s location in the state, which will offer Chicago-style deep dish pizzas. Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers currently has a dozen locations throughout Phoenix.

The new eateries will add to a growing list of restaurants and tenants at the new $500 million shopping center, which the developer of the project, Scottsdale-based SimonCRE, says is the largest to be developed on the West Coast in a decade. Other restaurants moving in include Barrio Queen, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant and O.H.S.O brewery.

The major power center also sits next to the new Costco store, a planned hybrid health care facility and other retail options such as Black Rock Coffee Bar adjacent to the Loop 303 and Waddell Road. American Furniture Warehouse is also making plans to build a new 200,000-square-foot retail store just north of the shopping center.

The developer of the massive West Valley project said the new restaurant hub will provide residents with indoor and outdoor eateries with walkability and an open-air retail experience.

“It is really exciting to be bringing these restaurant concepts to the West Valley, an area that is growing at an exceptional rate,” said Joshua Simon, SimonCRE’s CEO, in a statement. “Anyone that lives in Surprise knows how long they currently have to drive to visit some of these existing restaurants’ locations, so being able to give them the food that they want in a center that is more convenient for them, that’s the dream as a developer.”

Village at Prasada will also house major retailers including Sprouts Farmers Market, Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, PetSmart, Burlington Coat Factory, and Ulta. It will also feature a restaurant row and a FatCats Entertainment facility next to a planned multifamily project with more than 500 units.

The project is part of Prasada, a 3,355-acre master-planned community with residential, employment, hospitality and retail in the fast-growing city of Surprise, which has increased in population by 72% since 2004.

More information about the Street Fare at Alexandria and Village at Prasada can be found on the Village at Prasada website. Additional updates can also be found via their Instagram account @villageatprasada. Ryan Desmond, Dave Uhles, Noah Anastassatos, Neil Board and Brian Gausden with Western Retail Advisors are listed as the leasing brokers for the shopping center.

SimonCRE, which was founded 12 years ago, is a full service commercial real estate development and acquisition company. The firm has developed and leased about 3 million square feet across the country and has about 50 projects, totaling approximately $300 million in construction planned for 2022.

Originally published by The Phoenix Business Journal on August 16, 2022.

Village at Prasada in Surprise gets 2 new restaurants

SimonCRE, a national commercial real estate development and acquisition firm, has released that it has signed two more restaurants, Lou Malnati’s and Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, to be added to the Street Fare at Alexandria. Located in the upcoming retail center Village at Prasada in Surprise, this restaurant hub is centrally located to provide Surprise residents with indoor and outdoor eating opportunities with immense walkability, offering the open-air retail experience that many shoppers want today.

This will mark the 8th location for Lou Malnati’s in the state, bringing their Chicago-style deep dish pizzas to the Chicago transplants and Arizona natives that live throughout the West Valley. Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers currently has 12 immensely popular locations throughout Phoenix, and now brings their classic neighborhood burger joint aesthetic to the residents of Surprise, and Village at Prasada. These strongly desired restaurants join an already robust row of restaurants that includes OHSO Brewery, Barrio Queen, Firebirds, and Cooper’s Hawk. Surprise and West Valley residents have expressed an interest in more food options that are upscale, while still retaining a casual atmosphere. These restaurants will provide residents and shoppers with a welcoming location to meet with family and friends.

Developed with the residents of Surprise in mind, the Street Fare at Alexandria brings a variety of desirable food options that would otherwise require travel across the Valley for residents to access. Residents have previously indicated a desire for more variety in restaurant options for the West Valley, and SimonCRE worked hard in the process of developing Street Fare at Alexandria to deliver this dream.

“It is really exciting to be bringing these restaurant concepts to the West Valley, an area that is growing at an exceptional rate. Anyone that lives in Surprise knows how long they currently have to drive to visit some of these existing restaurants’ locations, so being able to give them the food that they want in a center that is more convenient for them, that’s the dream as a developer” said Joshua Simon, SimonCRE’s Founder and CEO.

“Village at Prasada really blends the best of both worlds, national retail choices coupled with local dining favorites that will serve as the premier dining destination for the West Valley,” said Ryan Desmond, Partner, Western Retail Advisors.

More information about the Street Fare at Alexandria and Village at Prasada can be found on the Village at Prasada website.

Originally published on AZ Big Media on August 23, 2022

Multiple commercial projects coming to Peoria

Press release provided by Harkins Theatres / Mark Boisclair
Originally published February 2, 2022

Scottsdale-based Harkins Theatres is looking to open another new location in the West Valley.

Big projects are on their way to Peoria, the fast-growing suburb just northwest of Phoenix.

The city has had several developments in the works over the past couple of years and dirt is finally moving at several sites that will result in new industrial buildings and other mixed-use projects including retail and office components.

Missouri-based VanTrust Real Estate is developing a 154,000-square-foot distribution center for Plano, Texas-based Frito Lay within the Peoria Logistics Park. The new facility is expected to employ about 100 to 150 people, according to the city.

Site plans say the facility will also have a future 40,000-square-foot expansion on the nearly 20-acre property, which is located on the southwest corner of 75th Avenue and Golden Lane near U.S. Route 60. It’s also in a proposed industrial and residential park comprised of nearly 350 acres that the city hopes will bring new jobs to the area.

“Some of our sites were tied up with people who weren’t actively marketing or actively trying to develop, so that kind of hamstrung us a little bit,” said David Valenzuela, chief business attraction officer for the city. “Once VanTrust entered into partnership with the Rovey [family], VanTrust has worked extremely quickly on RFPs to some brokers — that resulted in Frito Lay.”

In addition to Frito Lay’s new facility, Valenzuela said some small-to-medium sized speculative industrial buildings are planned for the area. A new site plan is currently under review for a 92,600-square-foot industrial facility and two multitenant office and warehouse buildings within the Empire Business Park, which is located near 91st and Grand avenues, according to the city.

New movie theater

On the retail side, a new dine-in movie theater and mixed-use project are also coming to Peoria. Scottsdale-based Harkins Theatres is currently building a 43,000-square-foot dine-in movie theater at the Lake Pleasant Towne Center. The theater will open in a space formerly occupied by Sports Chalet and include nine screens, according to the city.

“A lot of projects that were coming down the pipe, such as Harkins, had to wait obviously for pandemic conditions to change, but they always believed in that market for their product. They waited for the right moment and we’re there,” Valenzuela said.

Within the Peoria Sports Complex, the city is also working on a major plan amendment for a new mixed-use project called Stadium Point, which will be comprised of 500,000 square feet of class A office space with two buildings, two apartment or condo facilities, associated retail and a business-class hotel, the city said. This project will add to the limited available office space in the West Valley.

“That’s on track, which is a tremendous project at the sports complex,” said Jennifer Stein, interim economic development director for Peoria. “There’s a lot of momentum and activity and from an economic development standpoint, we’ve been working really hard with various partners and collaboration to bring additional amenities and assets to the community.”

‘Huge growth’

Zachary Pace, senior vice president with Phoenix Commercial Advisors, said the connection of Happy Valley Road with the Loop 303 and Interstate 17 has opened up the northwest Valley.

“There’s a huge amount of growth occurring up in this part of the Valley, both in the single family residential side and the multifamily side, which is driving retailers and restaurant sales,” said Pace. “You’ve got this pocket of wealth and density and growth in an area with serious demand and I don’t think enough services and retail services, and that’s why we’re seeing a lot of retailers and restaurants do well up there.”

Other commercial projects include The Trailhead, a proposed commercial shopping center with a Safeway as the anchor, restaurants and a multifamily project at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Happy Valley Road, which has been in the works for years but has been under review by the city in recent months.

Meanwhile, Phoenix-based shopping center owner and manager Vestar is also planning to build a 90,000-square-foot shopping center called The Shops at Lake Pleasant, which will be located adjacent to another Vestar property, Lake Pleasant Towne Center, located near Happy Valley Road and Lake Pleasant Parkway. Tenants for the projects have yet to be announced.

Audrey Jensen
Phoenix Business Journal

Join the Western Retail Advisors Team

WRA is hiring! Our team is collaborative, driven, fun, and forward-thinking and we are looking to add new team members to both offices.

Nike Unite

Nike Unite Coming Soon to Desert Ridge Marketplace

Nike Unite will open this fall at Desert Ridge Marketplace in the District near Copper Blues Live and Dave & Buster’s.  Nike brings inspiration and innovation to every athlete. Experience sports, training, shopping, and everything else that’s new at Nike in men’s, women’s and kids apparel and footwear.

The 13,602 square-foot retailer joins Desert Ridge Marketplace’s premier shopping and dining lineup with H&M, Pink by Victoria’s Secret, AMC Theatres, Homegoods, Barnes & Noble, Target, Ulta, Barrio Queen, Dave and Buster’s, Old Navy, Flower Child, Thirsty Lion and The Whining Pig Beer & Wine Bar.  Conveniently located in Phoenix, Arizona just north of Loop 101 on Tatum Boulevard.

Etta to Debut this Fall at Scottsdale Quarter

The Team Behind Maple& Ash Set to Open Second Scottsdale Restaurant

etta, a neighborhood-style restaurant known for its wood-fired dishes and led by two-time Michelin-starred Chef Danny Grant is coming to Scottsdale Quarter in Fall 2021. Located at Scottsdale Quarter in the former BRIO location, etta will be the second concept in Scottsdale from hospitality group What If Syndicate, following the success of their steakhouse Maple & Ash. The single-story restaurant will feature an outdoor patio and an indoor trellis, which will create a garden-like atmosphere.

What If Syndicate is a national restaurant group led by two-time Michelin-starred Chef Danny Grant. They have two etta locations in the Chicago area and is working to expand the concept across the country. It has signed leases in Dallas, Houston, Culver City and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Bryan Babits and Brian Gausden represented etta and Charles Skaggs and Chris Speciale of Western Retail Advisors represented the landlord in the transaction.

Medtail Clients at Western Retail Advisors

Where you once would go to a medical office building to visit your doctor, you can now find your local dentist, physical therapist, or acupuncturist popping up at your neighborhood-anchored retail center. This new concept coined “Medtail” where retail meets medical, is quickly popping up in retail centers across the U.S.  Now more than ever, medical and wellness facilities have sought new environments and are moving towards mixed-use retail formats. Consumers seek convenience as a top priority, and health and wellness are the cornerstones of this trend.


Many of our medical and wellness clients prefer the retail environment, as it creates a fun, inviting atmosphere where people traditionally thinking of going to the doctor as an unwelcomed visit that often feels sterile and cold.


At Western Retail Advisors, we are excited about this growing trend, and enjoy seeing these new tenants enhance the customer experience and diversify the retail mix. To learn more about Medtail, and see if it’s a fit for your business, reach out to us at 602.778.3747.

Sephora Coming Soon to Tempe Marketplace


Sephora is an innovative destination to discover the latest and greatest from the beauty industry. Since its debut in North America more than 20 years ago, Sephora has been a leader in creating an inviting atmosphere for shoppers – all while fearlessly inspiring their surrounding communities. Shoppers can find aisles of uniquely curated, trendsetting and best-selling makeup, skincare, fragrance and nail care items – displayed on an open-shelf environment. This 5,500 square-foot retailer will be located in The District near Bath & Body Works and Forever 21.

Sephora joins Tempe Marketplace’s unlimited shopping and dining lineup with Nordstrom Rack, H&M, Barnes and Noble, Ulta, Bar Louie, Barrio Queen, Dave and Buster’s, Best Buy, Harkins Theatres, Old Navy, The Keg Steakhouse, Target, King’s Fish House, Victoria’s Secret and more..

Costco’s opening in Surprise was long-time coming

When you want something bad enough, sometimes driving to another state to get it is worth it.

That was the thinking of Las Vegas-resident Steve Jones, who had been eying a golf cart caddy guided by GPS that follows golfers around the course and carries the clubs.

He wanted it so bad, in fact, he and two friends decided to drive four hours to Surprise to get one after a Costco worker in Vegas told him that’s where he had to go.

“That’s a Christmas present to myself,” Mr. Jones said. “You literally don’t have to push [anything].”

The trio was among hundreds of shoppers who showed up early Sept. 24 for the grand opening of the Costco in Surprise on the southwest corner of Waddell Road and Sarival Avenue.

The men decided to make the trip the night before the store opened, and even stole a few hours of sleep where they could. One took a nap on a flatbed cart in front of the store as workers put on the finishing touches inside.

“This is an amazing lounger,” Mr. Jones joked. “They could sell these. It’s orthopedic.”

As soon as the doors opened a half-hour earlier than planned, Mr. Jones raced right for the golf caddy. Luckily for him, the store had five.

Within minutes he was through the checkout line with his new toy — along with a few Clorox wipes, which are important in an era of COVID-19.

The three men had such a good time they plan to drive to Meridian, Idaho, in mid-October for another Costco opening.

The joy the men felt was apparent in the crowd that wrapped around the building in the hours before it was set to open.

Goodyear resident Julie Garcia said she wanted to be part of that “excitement,” so she took the day off work from her homeowners association management job and showed up at 2:30 a.m.

Only she wasn’t sure she was supposed to be there because nobody was waiting already.

“I was thinking they were going to call the cops on me when I pulled up and there was no one else here,” she joked. “I thought there’d be some people spending the night.”

Ms. Garcia and hundreds others didn’t seem to mind the requirements to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Despite COVID-19 concerns, personal safety didn’t seem to be on the minds of some.

“I’m not worried,” said Darlene DeMattei, who waited a little more than an hour with Cheryl Maeder, both residents of Happy Trails. “Everybody is wearing masks.”

Ms. Maeder called it fun to be at a grand opening.

“I just want to see what they have,” she said. “Everything is going to be new. Not every store has the same stuff.”

Ms. DeMattei said she’ll be happy to not have to make the longer drive to the Arrowhead Costco even though her granddaughter recently began working there.

“Going all the way to Arrowhead and the other one [in Avondale] is terrible,” Ms. DeMattei said.

Both women said they buy their phones and eyeglasses exclusively at Costco.

It took Anna Demarbiex “eight or nine minutes,” she said, to drive from her Goodyear home to the new store.

Ms. Demarbiex and her son were on the prowl for a 75-inch Samsung TV, which they said was sold out at the Avondale Costco.

“They might have something other Costcos might not have like seasonal stuff,” Ms. Demarbiex said.

Sun City resident Terry Linkous arrived at 6:45 a.m., about 45 minutes before doors opened. He said he wanted to go “just for the excitement of it.”

“It’s fun to see everything stacked to the hilt,” Mr. Linkous said. “Everybody was really friendly in there and said hello.”

He said he’ll take pride driving by the store in the future knowing he was one of the first customers inside.

So will Ariel Nieves, who arrived at a quarter before 4 in the morning.

“I just wanted to be part of the fun,” Mr. Nieves said.

He said he stops by a Costco everywhere he travels, including other states. Now, he has only a nine-minute drive, not like the 30- to 45-minute drives he experienced before.

“Costco provides value, and there’s always something new to come and see,” Mr. Nieves said.

Long-time coming
Surprise residents have been aching for Costco for years, even though another shopping club store, Sam’s Club, has been in Surprise for a decade.

Costco has been among the top of residents’ wish list since the city began conducting retail surveys a few years ago. It was No. 1 in 2015 and 2017 but was taken out of the 2019 survey because the city was aware Costco was already desired.

Mayor Skip Hall and store general manager Jennifer Welker cut the entrance ribbon at 7:30 a.m., and the store allowed customers in a half-hour earlier than planned.

That’s partly because the line of people waiting stretched into the morning sun all the way around the building.

“This is long-awaited and greatly anticipated,” a masked, but clearly smiling Mr. Hall said as shoppers poured into the entrance.

Community Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic and her staff kept the pressure on Costco for years to consider Surprise. They went so far as to throw Costco virtual birthday parties every year, complete with a cake from Costco.

“Their tenacity worked,” Ms. Welker said with a laugh.

An emotionally touched Ms. Jerkovic fought back tears as she watched the first hundred customers walk into the store.

“It’s exciting to make people feel that the city listens to them,” she said. “I’m so excited to see the community so happy.”

Ms. Jerkovic talked about the outreach her team did to remind Costco Surprise is a growing, thriving market.

“Our community has changed so much,” Ms. Jerkovic said. “We were only about 30,000 people in 2000. So if you touched our community five years ago, you’re not touching the same community. It was really important to make sure that they had a fresh image of who we are, and that we made sense.”

Ms. Jerkovic said Costco’s arrival is ready to spark a series of developments in the area she said will make it a “shopping destination for the northwest Valley.” She said Surprise expects to draw in more business from residents in Buckeye, Wickenburg and north Peoria as the developments come.

“We’re working on a number of entertainment destination amenities and additional restaurants and shopping,” Ms. Jerkovic said.

Mr. Hall said Costco’s opening is symbolic of the growth of the entire Prasada area that’s about to come.

Whataburger and Starbucks are likely tenants next to Costco, and other unannounced projects are in the works.

“There’s already letters of intent and all kinds of stuff going on around Costco right now,” Mr. Hall said. “This is what you’d call an anchor. We’re excited about all the multiple effects this store is going to have economic development-wise.”

Ms. Welker said Costco sees “extreme growth potential in this community.”

“Now is a good time,” Ms. Welker said. “Surprise has growth that is established. We just love our communities that we come into. Everybody is so embracing and phenomenal.”

Employment hub
Between 280 and 300 employees will be working at the Surprise store — a good number of them comprised of workers at the Christown Mall Costco that closed a week prior.

Ms. Welker, who was that store’s general manager for 5-1/2 years, hired 53 seasonal workers mostly from Surprise, and she said some employees from the Phoenix store now reside in Surprise to be closer to work.

“It was important for us to hire from the community,” Ms. Welker said.

The 152,000-square-foot warehouse has a parking lot that can accommodate about 800 vehicles.

The store includes a fuel station that opened Aug. 6 with 24 pumps and capacity to add eight more pumps if needed.

Other features include a tire station with four to five bays, a pharmacy, outdoor food court, bakery, optical center and a photo center.

The store can hold more than 2,000 people, but it has settled on 800 for its current capacity because of social distancing.

The greeter at the front uses a clicker to count people as they come in.

“Once we reach 800 people, it’s one in, one out,” Ms. Welker said.

The store will provide free masks for customers who don’t have one. And like the chain’s other stores, it provides wipes at the door and regularly sanitizes its carts and registers.

The times when traffic is at its busiest — likely the first few weekends, Ms. Welker said — customers will have to wait outside the building six feet apart.

While waiting, however, customers will be able to sign up for memberships outside.

“We might have some capacity issues every day,” Ms. Welker said. “It just kind of depends. We’re expecting an extremely busy weekend.”

As a desired new store, Ms. Welker said it may take a week or so for the crowds to level off.

Costco has 795 stores — 552 in U.S. and Puerto Rico — across 12 countries.

The Surprise location is the 17th in Arizona, replacing the one at Christown Mall.

Costco currently has 12 Valley locations, with the closest ones to Surprise in Glendale and Goodyear. The Glendale location at 17550 N. 79th Ave. is nearly nine miles from the Surprise City Hall. The Surprise location is about four miles from City Hall.

There’s also a location in Avondale near 99th Avenue and McDowell Road.

Lisa Tade, regional marketing manager for Costco, said the company opens between 15 and 20 stores a year.

But a new one hasn’t opened in the Phoenix area since one in Paradise Valley in 2009.

Costco has a couple of membership options. The cheapest one is $60 for the gold star level membership. For double that, a shopper can upgrade to gold star executive for 2% annual cashback and other perks.

The company is offering a special for a $20 Costco Shop Card with the purchase of executive membership. New gold star and business members will receive a $10 card.

That deal runs through Sunday, Nov. 29, by using the promo code “NEWOPEN” at

The store opens daily at 10 a.m., except Saturdays (9:30 a.m.).

On weekdays, there will also be a “senior hour,” where shoppers 60 and older can get in before the general public. That begins at 9 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.


Editor’s Note: Jason Stone can be reached at