By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
After more than a decade of decline bordering on freefall, Mesa’s long-suffering Fiesta Mall has once again changed hands, this time to a local developer with plans to turn the once-dominant retail center into a “Campus” that will primarily target medical learning, community colleges and for-profit schools.
Cashen Realty Advisors represented buyer Dimension Financial & Realty Investments, Inc., which plans to invest up to $30M renovating the space in what Ray Cashen says will be one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in Metro Phoenix. Agents from CBRE’s Phoenix and Chicago offices represented the seller, LNR Properties LLC, which bought it from Macerich in 2013.
According to The Arizona Republic, DFRI paid $6.72M for the 318.5KSF property, which includes most of the enclosed section of the mall, surrounding areas and three retail pads. It does not include the Dillard’s clearance center or the Sears, which are owned by their respective national companies and are the mall’s only remaining major tenants, or the former Macy’s and Best Buy/Dick’s Sporting Goods buildings, which are owned by developer Scott Jackson. Jackson will develop his properties in the area into either office or mixed-use space.
According to Cashen, the campus’ primary focus will be on health and education with, “medical learning centers and colleges specializing in business, economics, engineering, global communications, law, nursing and liberal arts.”
In addition to the medical and educational components, Cashen’s announcement also says DFRI plans to add housing, food and entertainment venues. “These will also serve the offices, health club and a futuristic sanctuary that will cater to the entire community along with relaxing coffee, yogurt and specialty shops in internet-friendly gathering spaces and a German-style beer garden/sports venue for all to enjoy,” he said.
DFRI has developed several projects in the Phoenix area, including the Fry’s Electronic/Best Buy/Lowe’s plaza at I-17 and Thunderbird.
As is to be expected when a major site that has been a drag on redevelopment efforts gets acquired as part of optimistic and ambitious renovation plans, area leaders were effusive and enthusiastic in their praise. Cashen quoted Brad Smidt, SVP of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council as saying, “This will be an exciting adaptive reuse development and of great interest to corporate users looking to locate in Greater Phoenix. We look forward to working with the owners and the City of Mesa on this development”.
Mesa Mayor John Giles, said, “Fiesta Mall is the in the heart of the Fiesta District and I am excited to welcome DFRI to the team of developers working to revitalize one of Mesa’s greatest assets”.
For several years, Mesa has invested heavily in efforts to modernize the District, starting with an implementation plan first published in 2011. The plan called for narrowing Southern Avenue from six lanes to four between Dobson and Alma School to install wider sidewalks and improved street fixtures, pedestrian lighting, bike racks and other amenities. (AZBEX, Jan. 19, 2016)
The “Campus” contains more than 1.2MSF and includes the Mesa Fiesta Corporate Center, which DFRI Principals Jerry Tokoph and Wayne Howard already own. That space, immediately east of the new site, will be bridged into the mall and become part of the main Campus.
Renovations are expected to be complete at some point next year.
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