Goodbye Fiesta Mall: Demolition to begin

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Fiesta Mall opened in 1979 and for several decades was a retail mecca drawing shoppers from across the Valley. (Tribune file photo)

The demolition of Fiesta Mall is scheduled to begin tomorrow, July 17, bringing a definitive end to an 80-acre site that was once a center of retail gravity for the Southeast Valley.

Mesa leaders hope an exciting new story emerges at the “strategic” site of the defunct mall on Alma School Road at the US 60, but the future still remains hazy as crews prepare to knock the walls down.

In March, the city held preliminary talks with mall co-owner Verde Investments on a master plan for a mixed-use development with up to 4,000 residential units, but there have been no updates since then.

There was speculation in May that the arena-less Coyotes hockey team might be interested in the Fiesta Mall site, but neither the Coyotes nor the city would confirm there had been any outreach by either side.

Dickens Quality Demolition is taking down the indoor mall and its parking garage, and the company estimates it will take about four months to level the buildings and haul away the materials.

For now, the asphalt surrounding the mall buildings will remain in place.

The demo zone will cover about 31 acres, according to permit documents.

The businesses surrounding the property will not be affected by the demolition, project manager Mike Walz said, with no traffic restrictions planned and no disruptions to utilities.

Walz said his company will have four to seven machines and about 20 workers on the site each day, tearing into the walls, cutting steel and grinding concrete.

According to its dust control permit, Dickens estimates workers will haul 96,500 cubic yards of material from the site, or enough to fill about 40 Olympic swimming pools.

Walz said the company will try to divert as much of that material as possible from the landfill by recovering concrete, steel and other metals for recycling.

He said the plan is to start at the former Macy’s, work straight across to Best Buy and then decide on the safest route to proceed.

“It’s a lot like Pac-Man. We just start chewing into it,” Walz said.

“I absolutely love what I do. It’s a great job; it really is,” he added.

Dickens Quality Demolition was also responsible for razing Paradise Valley Mall, which went down in 2022 and is currently under redevelopment.

Walz said large demo jobs like Fiesta Mall are more complicated because they involve multiple machines.

According to its air quality permit, the company will control dust through water applications and limiting the number of vehicle trips and speeds on unpaved surfaces.

Once a powerful draw for shoppers and diners from the entire East Valley when it opened in 1979, Fiesta Mall started on a steady decline around the turn of the century as new retail centers, particularly Chandler Fashion Center, laid claim to the thousands of households rising across the region.

The mall’s fate also was one of several fallen dominoes in an area of Mesa that was shared by other retail centers, particularly Fiesta Village on Southern Avenue.

But Mesa was in no mood to let one of its signature neighborhoods slowly drown in a sea of blight.

The city is in the midst of an aggressive redevelopment project that is slowly restoring the Fiesta District

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