The demolition worker tried and tried, but the old Macy’s department store at Fiesta Mall in Mesa seemed to say it wasn’t going away quietly.
The worker struggled to smash through the front doors using an 180,000-pound excavator on Thursday morning but didn’t get far, eventually giving up in front of an audience of city officials, civic leaders and mall employees.
Jeff Graves, a former employee attending the building’s demolition and 9:30 a.m. ceremony to mark Fiesta Mall’s second phase of renovations, wasn’t surprised to see the machine’s giant scoop bounce off the metal security barrier protecting the nearly 30-year-old building. He remembered when a motorist tried ramming through the same gate with his vehicle.
The ceremony promoted the mall’s ambitious renovation plans to reclaim its status as a major shopping destination in the East Valley.
“I hope it will work because this mall’s been going downhill for a while, unfortunately,” Graves said.
“It’s sad, but good,” said Natalie Francis, a merchandiser at Macy’s.
“One door shuts, another one opens,” added her boss, Macy’s manager Mary Markichevich. Markichevich said she views the changes at Fiesta Mall as a watershed moment similar to the improvements that made Tempe’s downtown core along Mill Avenue a shopping mecca.
The building, at the southeast corner of the mall, was left vacant after Federated Department Stores acquired May Department Stores in 2005. Federated moved Macy’s from the southeast corner of the mall into the former Robinsons-May store on the north side.
The building, which originally housed The Broadway, another department store, was built in 1979.
Representatives of Westcor, the Phoenix company that owns the 1.4 million-square-foot mall, said renovations such as changes to the food court, parking areas and landscaping would wrap up in mid-December. Garrett Newland, Westcor’s vice president of development, said additions including a hotel, condos or movie theater could be two to three years down the road.
John Crawford, sales director at Toni & Guy salon near the former Macy’s, said he’s eager for that area of Fiesta Mall to open for business because it will drive more foot traffic to his store.
Plans call for two 50,000-square-foot retailers — one upstairs and another downstairs — in the future building. Mall representatives have confirmed negotiations with electronics, sporting goods and book retailers.
Fiesta Mall timeline
1977 — Sears department store opens.
1979 — Mall owner Homart, a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck Co., opens Fiesta Mall with Sears, Goldwaters, Diamonds and Broadway.
1990 — Bought by Grosvenor International. Mall is remodeled, and 25 stores are added.
1993 — Bought by LNB.
1999 — Renovated again.
2004 — Bought by Macerich, Westcor’s parent company.
2005 — Mall’s first redevelopment phase begins.
2006 — Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores merge. Federated transfers Macy’s store to old Robinsons-May building.
2007 — Macerich acquires Macy’s building.
2008-09 — Second redevelopment phase to begin.