The Mercado first opened in December of 1989. It originally began as a shopping center with a heavy Hispanic/southwestern influence. The Mercado received the first ever Federal Urban Development Action Grant in Phoenix. The Mercado housed many different Hispanic shops and restaurants. It also contained the first ever Hispanic Art Museum in Arizona. The Mercado has about 125,000 square feet of office and retail space.
In 1990 Arizona State University opened its College of Extended Education in the Mercado. It only leased about 30,000 square feet to house its college, with the rest left to retail business. Arizona State University eventually grew to occupy about half of the space inside the Mercado. However, through all of this the Mercado struggled and failed to live up to the expectations people had for the Mexican-themed shopping center. Due to the lack of marketing and competition many businesses
inside the Mercado were forced to vacate.
Arizona State eventually expressed interest in buying the
Mercado and agreed to buy the Mercado buildings for 8.8 million dollars in 1999. They
also spent 1.8 million dollars to renovate the buildings while eventually turning office
space into even more classrooms as the campus expanded after its opening in 2006. Arizona State University now owns the Mercado complex
and leases the space it does not use.
Arizona State now uses the complex to house parts of the Mary Lou
Fulton Teachers College and Nursing programs along with other healthcare
undergraduate programs. The complex is now equipped with state of the art
technology. The Simulation and
Learning Resources Center inside Mercado has simulation suites, labs, and
computer library commons especially geared to undergraduates in the health fields. These offer students a great place to study and
enhance their education. The Mercado buildings have allowed ASU to cater to
increasing population of students at their downtown Phoenix campus.