Construction begins for food innovation center at former Phoenix landfill

A massive development is bringing new life to a part of south Phoenix that was a former landfill.

It’s called Arizona Fresh: Agri-Food Innovation Center. The 140-acre development will be built at the former Del Rio landfill site just south of the Salt River. It’s along Elmwood Street between 7th and 16th streets.

Construction began Tuesday and is projected to take more than five years to complete.

The multi-phase project will include a wholesale produce distribution center, an indoor farmer’s market, a community park and research facilities related to food and agriculture.

“We’re literally going to turn a landfill — or land that you’re standing on now that is deemed unusable — into something that’s going to produce imagination, that’s going to bring food, that’s going to allow our communities to come together and support each other,” Phoenix Councilman Carlos Garcia said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.

He added Arizona Fresh will help end the food desert that exists in this part of Phoenix. He said the lack of nearby fresh and healthy food options is one reason why life expectancy in the area is 10 to 14 years less than in other parts of the Phoenix metro area.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was also at the groundbreaking event and spoke about the economic benefits of Arizona Fresh.

“The project will bring 1,500 good green jobs to the city of Phoenix and help us pave the way for the future of food solutions in our community,” she said, adding that the city expects an annual $848 million economic output.

The development is part of Rio Reimagined, a project envisioned by the late US Sen. John McCain to revitalize dozens of miles along the Salt and Gila rivers.

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