Darlene Justus wants business to come back to her north Tempe neighborhood. The North Tempe Revitalization Committee chairwoman is hoping a new look for Sun Plaza, near McKellips and Scottsdale roads, will help.
"We have thriving and vibrant neighborhoods here, and people want to shop in their neighborhood," she said. "But, unfortunately, all the businesses have left."
The neighborhood is looking to real estate developer Michael A. Pollack to bring them back.
He has breathed new life into dead shopping centers throughout the state and is gearing up for an overhaul of the decaying Sun Plaza.
Pollack said he is in final negotiations with a major grocer and has pulled permits to begin revamping the center early next year.
Pollack is a new type of developer, focused more on revitalizing older and decaying shopping centers than on building new projects from the ground up.
"It’s the difference between a shot of Botox and an extreme makeover," Pollack said. "What we do with these shopping centers is give them an extreme makeover."
A shopping center at Ray Road and Arizona Avenue in Chandler is an example of what his company can do, Pollack said.
Built in the 1960s, the aging North Park Plaza was considered one of the ugliest strip malls in the Valley.
Now, after a $1 million dollar makeover, the center is thriving again, Pollack said.
As the Valley gets older and communities no longer can expand, Pollack said town and city leaders will have to concentrate on resurrecting their defunct shopping centers.
Tempe has become the first city in the East Valley to face issues related to buildout.
The landlocked city has been forced to build up and look for better ways to revitalize shopping centers.
In recent city political campaigns, candidates routinely said Tempe’s aging shopping centers are some of the main problems facing the community.
"Tempe needs to look for this type of partner who can help revitalize our older shopping centers and turn them into vibrant parts of our community," said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.