A once-thriving mall in the 1970s has been given new life with a makeover that has transformed the center into a colorful—and crowded—town square successfully drawing on the diversity of its surrounding neighborhoods.
Atlanta’s Plaza Fiesta, once home to the Buford-Clairmont Mall, has developed a reputation for being a major destination for Hispanic clientele seeking food and merchandise from their native countries. Visitors don’t just come from the immediate area. On weekends, the mall attracts shoppers from as far as North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.
So successful is the concept that owner The Legaspi Group has six similar malls across the country. Plaza Fiesta took in more than $100,000,000 last year, owners say.
It’s easy to see why the mall is frequently packed. Additions like a playground, plenty of family-friendly bathrooms, and benches make the mall a place to hang out, rather than just run around and shop. There’s also a one-stop shop where folks can get everything from dental work to tax preps, along with goods, many of which are imported from Mexico and Central America.
Further adding to the allure, Plaza Fiesta caters to the Hispanic tradition of the Sunday afternoon family stroll by offering special events most weekends, such as the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration.
By acknowledging the changing suburban landscape, Plaza Fiesta is sending a strong message that malls aren’t solely about shopping. It’s about community.
Atlanta’s NPR station, 90.1FM WABE, has more on the mall with a slide show and audio.