City of Phoenix to revitalize I-17 corridor with massive education & workforce campus

City of Phoenix to revitalize I-17 corridor with massive education & workforce campus
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 8:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- You may have passed the old Kmart building off the I-17 and Northern. It closed up shop when the big box retailer went out of business across the country.

It’s been empty since 2018. But now a new look and new purpose is coming to that lot: a multi-million dollar educational facility and workforce training center. Once known for its “Blue Light” specials, this once-thriving Kmart has sat vacant for nearly five years.

“We used to come shopping out here as well because my mom worked at Metro Center,” said Phoenix Community and Economic Development Director Christine Mackay.

Several months ago, the city bought the building for $12 million with big plans for the area.

“The transformation that will happen to this building will be phenomenal for the area. We’re going to do a complete redo on the structure of the building and the interior of the building to turn it into a world-class cutting-edge educational institution,” she said.

It’ll be called “Innovation 27″. The city shared renderings of what it’ll look like. A sleek and modern building with a lush parking garden, an indoor and outdoor market along with dining and classrooms.

It’s a mega-collaboration with ASU, Maricopa Community Colleges, West-MEC, and the city.

“It’s long been an overlooked area for education and for jobs and so our role is to be able to bring in not only quick hit workforce training whether it’s in semiconductor, biosciences, law and public safety, information technology, and cyber. But also in long-term educational opportunities for our citizens to help bring jobs and train a workforce right out of this area of Phoenix,” Mackay said.

She says this is part of a larger initiative called “The 27th Ave Revitalization Plan” to improve the area with more outreach, more lighting and landscaping, and more crime suppression efforts.

“These older areas of any community are worth the revitalizations and they can really make a change in people’s lives and a change in the way the city operates,” she said.

The city hopes to break ground this fall with the goal of having the first group of students at Innovation 27 by the fall of 2024.