By 1999, the immigrant population in metro Atlanta’s DeKalb County had grown exponentially. Specifically, the Buford Highway corridor in Dekalb County and Doraville had witnessed a massive increase in its Hispanic population.
At the center of the area stood a property that was 80% vacant and known primarily for its high crime rate. The two anchor retailers were ready to close. No one wanted to touch it.
Trinity Development’s Vince Riggio saw an opportunity. Though his original plan was for big box retailers, conversations with residents, business owners, and consultants confirmed the growing Hispanic community needed a safe gathering place of their own to experience their culture’s food, entertainment, events, and wares.
Understanding a Diverse Community
The new plan for Plaza Fiesta was unlike any project Riggio had done before and required a significant and unique effort. The neighborhood’s diverse Hispanic, Asian, and African communities each had their own ideas for how the property should come together.
Riggio and business partner Doug McMurrian, who traveled to Mexico to research project concepts, needed help navigating the community factions and overcoming the language barrier. They hired a Mexican marketer, Arturo Adonay, who formed relationships with existing tenants and community leaders to understand what the community wanted and what shop owners needed to be successful.
Focus on Safety
Riggio knew that families, and specifically female shoppers, would not come to the new mall if crime remained, so safety stood at the forefront of the redevelopment plan. The redeveloped property, which includes an on-site police substation, is credited with ridding the area of the gang violence, drug sales, and graffiti that once plagued it. The shopping center now boasts one of the lowest per capita crime rates in metro Atlanta.
A Valued and Lucrative Result
Before Plaza Fiesta was created, the market for the Hispanic community was fragmented all over busy Buford Highway. Plaza Fiesta created a vibrant, familiar, welcoming destination housing everything the community needs under one roof – restaurants, a fitness center, a farmer’s market, health and beauty services, retail and specialty shopping, traditional candies and baked goods, financial services, and family entertainment. The colorful, bustling, fragrant atmosphere transports visitors to Latin America and, to a lesser degree, Asia and Africa. Riggio anchored the local-owned shops and restaurants with two large retailers he convinced to stay, a gas station, and a grocery store.
Prior to purchase and redevelopment, the property was 20% occupied and generated $12MM in annual sales. Today, and since 2003, Plaza Fiesta is 100% occupied and generates $100MM in sales each year.