Central City is Phoenix, Arizona’s urban village that includes Downtown Phoenix, Sky Harbor, and parts of the surrounding area. Sky Harbor is home to the Sky Harbor International Airport, which is the biggest and busiest airport in Arizona. Central City is full of designated historic districts, and preserving their character is a high priority for local neighborhood organizations. The city of Phoenix rests in Maricopa County in the center of the Valley of the Sun, a metro area containing more than 20 cities and towns.
The largest employers in Central City are part of the financial services, legal services, construction, and administrative support industries. JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Bank of America, and Uber all have regional headquarters in Central City.
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Central City is part of the Downtown Phoenix office submarket. In Downtown Phoenix, developers are in the process of adding more than 240,000 square feet of commercial real estate to the already impressive 6.6 million square feet of total inventory. The vacancy rate hovers around 14%. The average asking rent is just under $33 per square foot.
Most of the office space (nearly 4.7 million square feet) in Central City is Class A and costs just under $34 per square foot to rent. The village has some Class B space; renters can lease these spaces for an average of around $30 per square foot. Class C spaces in Central City rent for significantly cheaper than the other two building classes, at about $20 per square foot.
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McDowell Road and the Grand Canal border Central City to the north and northeast; the Sal River borders it to the south; Tempe borders it to the east; and 19th Avenue borders it to the west. Central City is considered an “urban village“, or a mixed-use area offering good jobs, medium-density housing, convenient public transportation, public areas, and environmental benefits. Camelback East, Encanto, Maryvale, Estrella, and South Mountain are all other urban villages that surround Central City.
Central City’s two main areas are Downtown Phoenix and Sky Park. Downtown Phoenix is a financial and business center, sports destination, and cultural hub. All of the previously mentioned bank headquarters operate in this part of Central City. The baseball park Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks), as well as Talking Stick Resort Arena (home of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and Arizona Rattlers), draw sports fans from all over the Valley to Downtown Phoenix. Downtown also houses the Phoenix Symphony Hall, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Wells Fargo History Museum.
Sky Park’s main claim to fame is the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It’s not only Arizona’s most popular airport but also one of the largest in the country.
Central City’s designation as an urban village means it offers excellent transportation. Central City is very car-friendly, especially because it has more than 25,000 parking spaces in Downtown Phoenix alone. The Valley Metro Light Rail covers 26 miles, has 35 stations, and runs 18-22 miles per day. Travelers can buy a $2 pass from the airport to Downtown Phoenix or buy a $4 all-day pass. Another option is the Central South Mountain East RAPID commuter bus service that can deliver passengers from the 24th St/Baseline Park-and-Ride to Downtown Phoenix.
Downtown is Phoenix’s most walkable area and, depending on the weather, is also bike-friendly. Grid Bikes allows travelers to rent bikes throughout the city. Besides the light rail $2 pass option, passengers can also travel between Downtown and Sky Park using PHX Sky Train, a driverless people mover between the airport and the 44th Street/Washington Street station.
Central City’s excellent transportation, suitable housing options, and extensive amenities continually attract new businesses to the area. New businesses in Downtown Phoenix, in particular, have become crucial for economic growth in the area this year.
The Economic Capture of the Downtown Phoenix Redevelopment Area report by Downtown Phoenix, Inc., indicated that the area is generating $9.7 billion in economic activity each year. “Downtown is punching way above its weight in terms of generating resources for the city, county, and state,” David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., said in a statement.
To find out more about what makes Central City such a popular place to do business, contact or visit the Phoenix Convention Center. It hosts some of the largest trade shows and exhibitions in the Southwest, as well as many consumer shows and events. The convention center is within walking distance of more than 150 restaurants, and is also a good neighborhood for finding conveniently located hotels.
Central City History
The City of Phoenix’s modern history began in the latter half of the 19th century when Jack Swilling traveled the White Tank Mountains in search of good land. He saw potential in the center of the Valley of the Sun, where modern-day Central City is located. However, the land was too dry. Swilling decided to create the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company to dig a canal designed to transfer Salt River water to the land. His plan made the land more attractive, and by 1868, early settlers were living about four miles east of present Phoenix.
The City of Phoenix was incorporated in 1881. A few years later, increased transportation options in the area, including the first horse-drawn streetcar line and a railroad, helped boost the city’s economy. In 1912, the area now known as Downtown Phoenix gained traction as a business center. It was characterized by Victorian buildings, ground-floor retail, and pedestrian-friendly paths.
In 1928, the Sky Harbor Airport was built just three miles south of Downtown. At first, it only had one runway. Although Acme Investment Company originally owned the airport, the City of Phoenix bought it for $100,000 in 1935. More than 1.2 billion passengers have used Sky Harbor Harbor as of 2017. Today, it’s the 41st busiest airport in the world.