Westcor wrapped up a $30 million retail renovation project at Phoenix’s 43-year-old Biltmore Fashion Park this week.
The company began redesigning parts of the 610,447-square-foot complex’s walls, parking and common areas in February to give it a more modern appearance. The changes are the first of two reconstruction phases at the center at 24th Street and Camelback Road, which will culminate in the possible addition of hotel, residential or office and retail space starting next fall.
Today, the company will unveil the property’s new look, which includes larger windows and higher ceiling clearances on store fronts, traffic and parking improvements, new fountains, a new sound system, lighting, landscaping, seating, and an “underbridge” that runs under Camelback to link the Biltmore with the Camelback Esplanade.
“It’s a complete renovation,” said David Scholl, Westcor’s senior vice president.
Scholl said Westcor has wanted to restore the popular shopping center to its original luster after purchasing the property from Michigan-based Taubman Centers in 2004. Part of the long-term strategy includes attracting retail stores that he described as being “one and onlies” in Arizona. The most recent addition is a Cartier jewelry store, Saks Fifth Avenue and Calypso Christiane Celle, a clothing and apparel shop that only has 23 locations nationwide.
“I think that’s what makes a destination,” he said.
Brad Nelsen, a principal with Phoenix-based Nelsen Architects, said the new design will reposition the Biltmore as a prime destination among Valley shoppers.
“The goal was to really take what’s always been sort of the grand old lady of shopping in Phoenix and bring it up to date,” he said. “There’s a lot of ... competition out there and this one was frankly worn out.”
For merchants, the summer has been long and slow.
Anne Cornelia Park, a business owner at Biltmore for 26 years, said the drop in traffic at her store was substantial.
“It’s definitely been impacted,” she said. “Our regular, loyal customers have continued to make their way through the dust and dirt to get to us, but we’ve had absolutely no foot traffic since May.”
Park said she saw signs that business was finally returning to normal on Thursday.
“I think that the vacation or resortlike atmosphere of the Biltmore returned for the first time or was evident for the first time today,” she said.