Arrowhead Towne Center is the only regional mall for a large region of over 1 million shoppers in sprawling northwest Maricopa County, comprising parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Sun City, Surprise, and Goodyear. Its market area is not only large, but economically and ethnically diverse as well, drawing both from extremely upscale, mostly white, brand new enclaves to the north and west to an economically diverse group with a significant amount of Mexican-Americans to the south and east. The average household income in the trade area is over $64,000.
Arrowhead Towne Center opened in October 1993 in a former orange grove located along Bell Road near the brand new Loop 101 freeway, Phoenix’s first belt freeway, connecting this formerly remote section of northwest Phoenix to Interstate 10 to the south and Interstate 17 to the east. Loop 101 intensified the already-explosive growth in the Phoenix area which was occurring during the 1980s and 1990s, focusing it along this circumfrential route, which for the first time allowed accessibility to all parts of the metro. Arrowhead was developed by Phoenix-area Westcor, and opened with five major anchors – Dillard’s, Robinsons-May, Mervyns, JCPenney, and Montgomery Ward – with an empty pad for an eventual sixth anchor. Anchor Ward became Sears in 2001 following Ward’s bankruptcy.
In many ways, Arrowhead Towne Center is your average, middle-of-the-road suburban mall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the parking lot is still crowded on weekends – but, if an area shopper wants something more upscale, she has to head east to Scottsdale or northeast Phoenix. Arrowhead offers stores like Gap, Apple, Forever 21, Tilly’s, Dillards, and Sears; there’s no Neiman Marcus or Saks here, but neither are there many vacancies nor a dirty, drab shopping environment, following a 2003-04 rehab of the entire mall.
In 2003, owner Westcor has sought to bring a more upper-mid tier range of stores like Hollister and Godiva to the ten-year-old mall, as well as maintaining a nice esthetic. Much of the decor featured “outdated, chunky pieces of artwork” from 1993, so Westcor solved this by revamping the mall with muted tile floors and modern wood trim.
The revamped tenant list came with slightly more upscale stores such as Apple, Sephora, Coach, Papyrus, and Swarovski. The outside of the mall also got touch-ups and a new paint job, and all of these changes took place right after mall owner Westcor became absorbed by L.A.-based Macerich.
More changes have taken place since the renovation. In 2006, Robinsons-May became Macys as part of a national nameplate consolidation, and in 2008 Mervyns closed as that chain folded. In March 2009, the former Mervyns space became one of the first anchor-sized locations for Forever 21, a clothing retailer for young men and women. And, in 2009, the sixth anchor pad finally filled with Dick’s, a two-level Pennsylvania-based sporting goods retailer.
The design of Arrowhead Towne Center is a somewhat winding two-level straight shot between Dillards and Macys, with over 1 million square feet of space. The mall was visited by over 11 million shoppers in 2007, and we visited in March 2009. In fact, we visited the day of Forever 21’s soft opening; in the pictures you can see the Forever 21 sign going up. When we arrived, it was about half done and the Mervyn’s labelscar was still visible, but by the time we left the sign was done. Also while we were there, someone had apparently modified one of the mannequins outside Hollister…