The Sun Worshiper Returns to Park Central

It was once one of the most iconic features at Park Central Mall. Absent for years, it’s back for good. 

The Sun Worshiper — an iconic steel statue erected at Park Central in the late 1960s and removed during a remodel during the 1980s — has returned to Park Central and greets visitors on the west side of the revitalized property. 

For two decades, hundreds of thousands of visitors to Park Central enjoyed the 19 foot tall statue. When it was removed, The Arizona Republic speculated that Park Central’s good luck left with it. 

In the mid 1980’s the statue, created by Phoenix doctor and sculptor Walter Emory, was given to Charlie Sands, former owner of The Green Woodpecker gift store at Park Central. It was featured in their front yard for the last 11 years on Bethany Home Road, not far from where Emory created it. 

As part of their commitment to honoring the history of Park Central while reimagining its future, the new ownership team of Plaza Companies and Holualoa Companies began discussions with the Sands family in hopes of bringing The Sun Worshiper home. 

“Park Central’s historic impact on our community cannot be overstated, and it was important to us to celebrate that history while working to revitalize it for a new future,” said Sharon Harper, President & CEO of Plaza Companies. “We are grateful to the Sands family for their willingness to return this iconic piece of history to Park Central so that the public can enjoy The Sun Worshiper once again.”

Sands said that while the statue brought him and his family good luck over the years, they were gratified to be able to share it with the public once again. 

“The Sun Worshiper is truly a part of Phoenix’s history, and our family is happy that it will be on display for the public at Park Central,” he said. “The Park Central property has been an important part of our lives, and we are pleased to see the new vision take shape while honoring the property’s history.”

Park Central Mall, the city’s first official large-scale shopping mall, was purchased in 2017 by Plaza Companies and Holualoa Companies.  Intent on redeveloping the project, the companies have transformed it to a bustling community hub ideal for playing, working, congregating and celebrating the arts. 

Photos of The Sun Worshiper’s journey home are attached to this press release. 

The revitalized Park Central’s contemporary office environments with their indoor-outdoor spaces and nearby amenities are drawing a lot of attention to the central Phoenix property.  Recently, Park Central won the prestigious Talk of The Town Award and Transaction of the Year Award, presented by the Phoenix Business Journal at the Best of NAIOP awards ceremony.

Park Central Mall opened in 1957 on Central Avenue and quickly became the center of activity for some of Phoenix’s best neighborhoods due to its easy access from Central Avenue, Indian School Road and Thomas Road. The current renovation plan for Park Central Mall will modernize the original standing buildings with new exteriors and state-of-the-art upgrades.

The new Park Central includes 450,000 square feet of Class A creative office and retail space available for lease with the ability to accommodate tenants ranging from 3,500 square feet to more than 100,000 square feet in size. It features exclusive tenant patios, on-site restaurants and amenities, a stunning mid-century modern design, 15-25 foot ceilings, convenient bike path and light rail access and ample parking. For more information on the project, visit

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