Abandoned Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona
It took 9 years to build, but the Fiesta Mall opens in Mesa, AZ, in 1979. Sears was the first/original anchor store (actually opening in 1977), and was followed by additional anchor stores Goldwater’s, Diamond’s and The Broadway in 1980. The mall, along with other retail were in need due to population growth, and the construction of the Superstition Freeway.
Fiesta Mall underwent a renovation in 1989, replacing the orange and brown colors of the 70s and installing new skylights.
Success of Fiesta Mall
By the early 90s, Fiesta Mall was at the height of its success. It had become the commercial hub of the East Valley of the Phoenix region, and ranked in the top 15 percentile of regional malls in the US in overall sales. Local residents listed the mall as the preferred shopping center in a 1992 survey, and by 1993, had multiple large companies trying to purchase the mall.
L&B Real Estate Counsel of Dallas, a commercial real-estate investment firm, bought the mall for $124.3 million in December 1993. Citing continuing population growth, the new owners announced plans for a major expansion to Fiesta Mall, including plans for a 5th anchor store.
In 2004, pop star Avril Lavigne hosted a free concert at Fiesta Mall, which included a total of about 3,000 attendees. This was a major “win” for Fiesta Mall, which again was going through renovations to keep up with the changing times. Changes to the mall included new/updated mall entrances and a new play area for children.
Fiesta Mall's Decline
There were several factors that led to the decline and eventual closing of Fiesta Mall, beginning in the late 90s. Fiesta Mall faced new competition from a newly built mall in neighboring Tempe, called Arizona Mills. Arizona Mills caused a drop in traffic to the mall, and when another mall opened a few years later, Fashion Center in Chandler, AZ, Fiesta Mall saw a financial hit.
Several years later, Fiesta Mall saw even more competition locally, furthering the decline of foot traffic and sales to the mall with the construction of Mesa Riverview shopping Center, and Tempe Marketplace.
Fiesta Mall saw another major impact to it’s decline, an increase in crime, especially gang related crime.
Although the mall denied the rise in crime, in 2007, Mesa Police Department reported a spike in gang activity at Fiesta Mall, with police calls increasing about 71 percent from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, a man stabbed two mall patrons, including one fatally. Authorities said the suspect had links to local gangs. Mesa Police also reported an increase in property crimes and car thefts during this time period.
In 2012, police arrested a documented and known gang member in the beating and attempted robbery of another man near Fiesta Mall. On October 1, 2012, a woman was robbed at gunpoint.
The decline of Fiesta Mall as also seen in it’s value. In 2013, it’s appraised value was just over $39mm, a 72% decrease from it’s appraised value in 2004.
Eventually, Fiesta Mall would start losing stores, and really felt the crunch when it lost it’s anchor stores. Macy’s, one of its anchors, closed in 2014, furthering the concern over the mall’s future. In 2016, only 35 businesses operated at the mall that had more than 100 tenant spaces.
Fiesta Mall permanently closed on January 27, 2018, except for Dillard’s. Dillard’s would stay open until the fall of 2019, marking the loss of the last remaining tenant. Fiesta mall has sat abandoned since. Over the next several years, there would be talk and preliminary plans to repurpose the old abandoned mall, but nothing would happen.
In the following years, neglect and vandalism would take it’s toll on the abandoned Fiesta Mall. Most of the glass walls, doors, and fixtures were broken, along with any remaining furniture.
Demo of the Abandoned Fiesta Mall
In March 2023, it was announced that the mall would be demolished after sitting empty and abandoned since 2019.
On July 17, 2023, demolition finally started and the abandoned Fiesta Mall. See updates of the demo here.