Union Market retail concept comes to Phoenix business district

The Union Market will bring designers, restaurant and retail stores together in one cohesive space in Phoenix's business district at the U.S. Bank Center building (not pictured). (Nathan Thrash/DD)

A vacant office space at the U.S. Bank Center building will bring designers, restaurants and retail stores downtown into a single space. The space will be transformed into a Union Market combination retail and restaurant location in November, aiming to give Phoenix residents a diverse shopping experience.

The 360,000-square-foot office building, located on 101 N. First Ave., is owned by USBC Real Estate LLC, a group formed by owners Varde Partners and ScanlanKemperBard Companies.

Charles Ferguson, the asset’s managing agent, said the company was impressed with the success of the Union Market in its various locations in California and welcomed the concept with open arms.

“The Union Market is a tremendous opportunity that brings new life to the building and a place where tenants and the community can come together and dine and shop,” Ferguson said.

Russell Young, a property developer, said it was important that he selected entrepreneurs who could be part of the business model. He said the entrepreneurs had to make a difference by contributing to the urban Phoenix culture.

“We have great local entrepreneurs,” Young said. “We took our time and tried to select the best.”

Young said careful background checks were done on all the businesses involved with Union Market. He researched the websites and products of each business, to ensure that clients got value for their money.

“The businesses involved are long-term investments,” Young said. “We want the businesses to be a permanent part of the success we are building.”

Young’s business concept also aims to attract suburban residents to the urban culture in downtown Phoenix.

Young said Phoenix has a good demographic because it has a mix of office and residential buildings. The city also accommodates external guests in the newly opened Hilton Hotel.

“Phoenix culture is a lifestyle; it has all the great things a city has to offer,” Young said.

The amenities available at the Union Market provide easy access for customers to have a satisfying shopping experience. The Union Market concept has three levels, each serving a different purpose.

The basement and ground floor will house retail stores and restaurants. The third level on the 31st floor will have showcases for “appointment businesses” including designers, photographers and wedding planners. The floor design includes glass walls to help businesses present their work.

“We want people who see our showcase studios to think, ‘Wow, this is great stuff,’ and grab a business card without hesitation,” Young said.

Ferguson said the Union Market attracts office tenants and workers because it gives them easy access to a variety of places to dine, host meetings and socialize inside the same building.

“We’re well-equipped for the new customers to come into our building,” Ferguson said. “The business concept is a big win for our company and our timing is perfect.”

The business concept is similar to the local and independently owned DeSoto Central Market. Jillian Newman, the manager of a DeSoto bar, said the new trend of marketplaces blended well with the urban living space downtown.

“People come to marketplaces because there’s something new for everyone,” Newman said.

DeSoto shares a target audience with the Union Market, but does not offer retail stores or appointment businesses.

“Our market gives people in the community a place to eat and mingle,” Newman said.

Union Market owner Young said he “loves and understands the city” because it’s where he was raised. Young hopes his concept will be well received by the Phoenix community.

“The new business concept turns the office building into one big community that shares clients,” Young said. “Business owners can share in each other’s success.”

Contact the reporter at btefu@asu.edu.

Clarification: April 21, 2016:An earlier version of this story did not make clear in the photo caption that the bank displayed in the image is not the U.S. Bank Center building. The caption has been updated for clarity.