Dimond Center was founded
by Joe and Patty Ashlock in 1977
It started out as a simple neighborhood shopping center, with just 180,000 square feet. With time and effort it has grown and today Dimond Center is home to retail stores, restaurants, professional offices, a bowling alley, ice chalet, athletic club, and movie theaters. Currently, it covers 8½ blocks. It has gone from being a modest neighborhood shopping venue to the largest Shopping Center in Alaska.A key to Dimond Center’s development is its priority to maximize the synergy from all its different facets: shopping, dining, business, and entertainment; creating a community hub that meets the needs of Alaskans. Joe and Patty wanted local families to be able to go to shop, socialize, have fun, and dine in a safe, family-friendly environment; thus the Dimond Center that exists today.Over the years, and through expansions, they have invested in the local community: creating jobs and boosting commerce. Dimond Center has also made a point of giving back to the community that has given it so much.Dimond Center remains family-owned business, run by the next generation, with the same commitment to family and community as the day it was founded.
The Pipeline Years
Dimond Center was established in 1977 by Joe and Patty Ashlock, both of whom were originally from the lower 48. Joe served in the U.S. Army as a private first class during World War II and saw action throughout the Pacific. He attended college on the GI Bill at Tulsa University, where he met his future wife, Patty Burtner.
Joe worked for many years in the pipe-coating industry, where he developed numerous inventions and patents, including an extrusion coating process. Many of the patents are still in use. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was what originally brought Joe and Patty to Alaska in the late 60’s. Their company Surfcote coated the pipeline and at the time was the second-largest employer in the state, exceeded only by the federal government.
When the pipeline project was completed, they decide to invest in a shopping center in south Anchorage, which at the time was a sparsely populated part of the city. They both saw the area’s potential and reached out to local residents, asking what they needed and what they would enjoy seeing in the area.
1977 - PHASE 1
Founded in 1977 by Joe and Patty Ashlock, Dimond Center opened to the public as a modest neighborhood shopping center covering 180,000 square feet. It included a Pay’n Save, a Safeway, and thirty-seven smaller businesses. Today you can still find two original tenants in Dimond Center, The Perfect Cup and Zales.
One of the original tenants was the municipal library. Upon closure in 2010, the Samson-Dimond Branch had become the oldest in Anchorage, having operated for thirty-three years.
At the time south Anchorage was sparsely developed, but Joe & Patty believed in Anchorage’s potential and that it would grow towards Dimond Center’s location. Today, we can see that their faith in the city wasn’t misplaced.
1982 - PHASE II
Little by little Anchorage continued to grow and the Ashlocks decided to reinvest by more than doubling the size of the shopping center. The Phase II expansion was completed to the west and north adding an additional 230,000 square feet, which included a Lamont’s department store and a Sports West. Iconic stores also included recently closed Hobbycraft.
1986 - PHASE III
A key value for Joe & Patty has always been family and they wanted to create a location that would have everything a family would need: shopping, dining, and entertainment. They also wanted to offer the growing community of south Anchorage business opportunities in the form of office locations.
Thus, in 1986, the Professional Office Tower was added to include a bowling alley, ice chalet, athletic club, food court, two levels for retail, and four levels for professional offices. Dimond Center became the largest shopping center in the state. The Transit Center facilitated transportation from all over Anchorage to Dimond Center.
Maintaining their commitment to offer as many options to their shoppers as possible, Joe and Patty decided to expand vertically. In 1996, the roof was raised and a nine-screen movie theater was added to the second floor, creating an additional entertainment option for visitors.
More than twenty years after opening, in 1999, the original Pay’n Save space was repurposed to accommodate GAP and Old Navy stores. A single retail space was transformed into what are now eight different stores.
2002BEST BUY & DIMOND CENTER HOTEL
A lot has been transformed from the original building. The mall was expanded in 1982 creating a new hallway in front of Pay ‘n Save with room for more businesses and finally Pay ‘n Save would be substituted for the Gap and Old Navy stores in 1999. Safeway was torn down and Best Buy was built in 2002.
There are two original tenants left, The Perfect Cup and Zales, though both have undergone remodeling in recent years.
Joe and Patty were always looking for opportunities to enhance the Dimond Center experience. For years, they had dreamed about adding a hotel. Teaming up with Seldovia Native Association the Dimond Center Hotel also opened its doors in 2002.
Dimond Center was south Anchorage’s first shopping mall and with a lot of hard work and vision it has grown side by side with Anchorage for over 40 years.
2012 - 2015WEST END EXPANSION
In 2012 Joe and Patty passed the reigns to the next generation of their family. The first project undertaken was expanding and remodeling the west end of the shopping center, which had few structural changes since it opened in 1982. The goal: offer new fashion and dining experiences.
In 2012 Olive Garden opened, followed by Chili’s two years later. What was originally Lamont’s department store, then Gottschalks, became Forever 21, giving way to new hallways and retail spaces. This remodeling brought in stores such as Ulta Beauty and Kids Foot Locker. Dimond Center had grown to 728,000 square feet and continues to be the largest enclosed shopping center in Alaska.
In continuing to grow and evolve, Dimond Center brought in its first foreign multinational brand, H&M in 2015. The Swedish brand opened a 32,000 square foot store, located on two levels of the Professional Office Tower, offering clothing for women, men, and children. The store required significant remodeling: the original outside wall was replaced with an energy-efficient glass and panel façade, with escalators connecting both floors. The remodeling renewed the Tower’s aesthetic.
2016 - 2018Dave & Buster’s Opens
Today the family-owned business is still as committed as ever to evolving and serving the community’s needs. Striving to renew and improve with aesthetic upgrades, such as new flooring. In 2016 the South entrance between Ulta Beauty and Old Navy was expanded, creating additional handicap parking, and a landscaping plan was put into place.
In 2018, Dave & Buster’s claimed part of the second story of Phases I and II to create a 45,000 square foot combination of entertainment and dining that the whole family can enjoy, making it the perfect choice for Dimond Center.
2020 & BEYOND
In 2020, Dimond Center continues to evolve to meet the ever changing lifestyle and needs of our community. Electric vehicle charging stations were added in October 2020 in partnership with Chugach Electric, the center welcomed lululemon, and Cinnabon was added to delicious dining lineup. As Alaska's largest family-owned shopping center that stays committed to Alaska, there is much more to come!