Fiesta Mall sits quiet and desolate practically on the verge of extinction. But don’t judge a book by its cover. The mall sits on Alma School and Southern Avenue, adjacent to the US 60, a business corridor and is surrounded by neighborhoods. The large marquee facing the freeway shows the several stores in and around the mall, Macy’s, Sears, Best Buy, and In-Out Burger. But drive into the parking area and the place is empty. Closed signs on serval entrance doors and only a handful are actually open. The mall can house more than 100 stores, but it currently only has 35 businesses open.
Linda Arias is co-owner of Linda’s Perfumes. Arias and her husband decided three years ago to open a perfume stand to keep herself busy. Arias is unsure of her business’s future. She says all she hears from management is “They will let us know ahead [what will happen].”The City of Mesa has a revitalization plan for the Fiesta District and it includes Fiesta Mall. The Fiesta District Redevelopment Renaissance Plan calls for the repurposing of the mall to become the ‘Fiesta Corporate Campus’. The plan was initiated in 2009 and it includes a revamp of the 742-acre section of west Mesa.
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Lori Gray is with the City of Mesa Economic Development office. She says the idea is to model the half-mile wide Fiesta Mall area after the Scottsdale Quarters and the Kierland Commons. Essentially, there will be walkability in and around the mall with retail, businesses and restaurants. Part of the concept is to turn big box retailers like Macy’s into high-tech office spaces. An example of this plan sits across the street, on the northwest corner of Longmore and Southern Avenues. The area once housed Circuit City, Bed Bath and Beyond and Petco. For several years after the stores closed the section remained a vacant retail lot. Today it’s home to Centrica, an 116,000 square foot office facility. There are more than 300 people employed in the building and is ramping up to add 980 more.
According to Mesa officials, Dillard’s and Sears support the revitalization plan and have said they will continue to operate the stores in Fiesta Mall. Investments have been noticeable made in the area. As estimated $500 million was pumped into improving roads, sidewalks and street corners along Southern Avenue, which includes the large and colorful signage. Despite the plan, one anchor shop is not waiting for the boom. Store officials at Best Buy in the mall said the store is set to close on Oct. 29. Gray optimistically said, “We are making progress,” Gray said. With four different owners of the mall, the completion of this plan does not have a set date. “It just takes time,” Gray added.