[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Throngs of tourists and a neighborhood building spree have helped turn things around at Arizona Center, a 19-year-old outdoor mall that was a pioneering downtown Phoenix redevelopment project.
There are questions about the mall’s future. In April, Arizona Center’s parent company, General Growth Properties Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But for now, “it’s absolutely business as usual” for mall customers and shop owners, said mall General Manager Chris Bilotto. In media reports, analysts have speculated that some of General Growth’s 200-plus malls could be sold.
While shop owners wait for news on the bankruptcy case, they are enjoying a boost from the mall’s new neighbors: the Phoenix Convention Center, which finished a $600 million expansion last winter, and the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel that opened last fall. Since January, the convention center has hosted 44 events with more than 233,175 visitors, a convention center spokeswoman said. In 2008, the center had 49 conventions and 122,625 attendees. That foot traffic has kept Arizona Center cash registers ringing and has helped to reduce the effect of the economic downturn, shop owners say. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]