Two new food innovation centers are redeveloping a former south Phoenix landfill. The centers will focus on food distribution, research, development, and innovation, creating a food epicenter in the heart of the city of Phoenix called the Arizona Fresh: Agri-Food Innovation Center.
“Access to healthy food is still critical. This is not something we can just wake up one day and say, ‘We have got to get moving on this,’” said Christine Mackay, director of Phoenix Community and Economic Development.
The project will be constructed in phases. The first phase of this project includes building a 20-acre park, the wholesale food distribution center, and the development and research space. The latter part of the project will include the building of a permanent farmers market where small or local businesses are able to set up booths to sell their food products and other items.
Overall, the project is expected to cost about $200 million. Robert Kline, managing director of debt and structured finance for the Southwest region for Colliers International in Phoenix, said “there are about a dozen lenders considering financing the project, which still has a few approvals to receive from the city before construction can begin.” Kline said that for the project they are looking to obtain funding for about 60%-65%, and that the partners will bring in some funding of their own as well.
Not only will this development create about 1,500 jobs in the Valley once fully completed, but it will also put Arizona on the map as a new hub for food distribution.
“That large-scale distribution doesn’t exist anywhere else in the central part of the southwestern U.S.,” said Todd Hardy, one of the four founders of Arizona Fresh Holdings, the group behind the redevelopment plans for the South Phoenix Del Rio landfill. “The time is right to produce this kind of distribution center for the distribution of food.”
Not only will this project revamp the landfill, but it is also going to reuse the former Kmart store near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue. This building will be turned into a food production center that will focus on job training and education.
Local First Arizona also plans to open a food business incubator in South Phoenix. This comes after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. That building will be located at 3146 E. Wier Ave.