‘Empty, Ghostly, not Much Going on’: New Plans Could Bring Life Back to Fiesta Mall in Mesa

Article originally posted on HERE on March 14, 2023

The Mall has Been Sitting Empty for at Least Three Years as Different Owners Held Separate Portions of the Mall’s Property.

MESA, Ariz. — Once a busy center for shopping in Mesa, Fiesta Mall has been sitting empty and left vandalized for years.

But new plans submitted to the City of Mesa this week show potential ideas to demolish Fiesta Mall and build something completely different in its place.

The ‘Fiesta District’ with no Fiesta Mall

The area surrounding Fiesta Mall continues to bear the name of the once-popular shopping center, signs show the area around Alma School Road and Southern Avenue is labeled as the ‘Fiesta District’ of Mesa.

“It’s a Fiesta District, but there’s no fiesta,” said Dennis Henry, co-owner of Konakava Wine Bar & Bistro.

Henry’s business moved in just north of the old Fiesta Mall about six months ago.

“We get a lot of questions as to what’s going on at the mall,” Henry said.

Zach Ondrejko, who owns Sikk Bicycles across the street to the west of the mall also moved his business there about six months ago.

Out his front window, there hasn’t been much to see, just some cars parked randomly and some police activity.

“Empty, ghostly, not much going on,” Ondrejko said.

Credit: 12News

Over the past six months, Mesa Police Department records provided to 12News show officers have responded to over 200 calls for service to Fiesta Mall, the most common calls being trespassing, suspicious activity, persons or vehicles and traffic stops.

What’s also sitting in the mall’s nearly empty parking lots now are green dumpsters.

“I can kind of feel like a sense that maybe something’s going to start happening,” Henry said.

New Plans Filed

City of Mesa planning records show that a group representing Verde Investments Inc. submitted documents this week for the city to review a potential redevelopment plan.

“This is great news,” Mayor John Giles told 12News.

According to the documents, the idea is to demolish what’s left of Fiesta Mall and replace it with a multi-use development. The plans submitted show multi-family housing, commercial and office space in place of where Fiesta Mall sits.

Credit: Nelsen Partners + Verde Investments “Fiesta Mall Master Plan”

The documents are listed as “pre-submittal,” which, according to the City of Mesa’s website, leads to a conference with city staff to, ‘provide applicants with information as they prepare submittals for the Planning and Zoning Board, Design Review Board, Board of Adjustment, City Council, or the Planning Hearing Officer.

“One of the special challenges we’ve had with Fiesta Mall is it has been owned by multiple parties, you know, Dillard’s and the other department stores kind of all went their separate ways, and the common area was under a different ownership. But thankfully, now the situation is we do have one common owner for Fiesta Mall,” Giles said.

While Maricopa County Assessor records show a different owner still owns the interior of the mall and some parking lots, Giles said it recently changed to one owner.

Steven Johnson with Verde Investments Inc. told 12News on the phone Thursday, before the plans came to 12News’ attention, that there was ‘”nothing new” going on at Fiesta Mall. Johnson alluded to something public about the property later this year.

Johnson didn’t return 12News’ requests for comment on the plans.

Will the Plans Become Reality?

Ideas have been floated before for what the mall could become, but none have come to fruition.

Planning documents also say Verde Investments had an idea before the pandemic to turn the property into office space, but that never happened.

12News asked Giles how confident he is the mall will be redeveloped this time.

“I’m very confident. I mean, I can’t get into the details, but there are a lot of good ideas that are already being floated and some I think have real potential,” Giles said.

12News also contacted Mesa Vice Mayor Francisco Heredia’s office for an interview regarding the plans for Fiesta Mall; he represents District 3 where the mall sits.

“Being that this project is still in the initial stages, Heredia will comment once the project progresses further,” a staff member told 12News in an email.

Given its proximity to US 60 and Loop 101, Giles described the location as ‘special’ and ‘strategic’, believing the mixed-use development plans submitted are a starting point for what could be there in the future.