Just months after reopening Crossroads Mall as Plaza Fiesta, Capital City Development is already planning the next phase of development for the Latino-themed shopping destination.
Capital City partner Arturo Adonay said an expansion of 150,000 to 200,000 square feet could be open for business by 2009 or early 2010. The development company is in talks with two department store chains to take over approximately 102,000 square feet in an open-air shopping plaza and sports-and-entertainment complex on about 20 acres just north of where the existing Plaza Fiesta building, off Carowinds Boulevard, ends.A grocery store may also move into the complex."It probably won't happen this year," Adonay said. "We still have to pull the permits and get the necessary approvals."Capital City announced an aggressive redevelopment plan last year when it bought the mall building, including a residential component. But, Adonay said, a weak economy has slowed development plans while many national retailers wait for it to turn around before committing to opening new locations. However, negotiations are going well with the two potential department store tenants, Adonay said. He declined to name either company before a deal is finalized.The developer owns 62 acres north of the mall adjacent to I-77. Roughly 40 acres will become a residential development in the future. So far, two residential development companies have shown an interest in the land. One has a resume full of traditional residential developments, the other tends to do more apartment complexes. The project could end up with one or the other, or a mixture of both, according to Adonay.Plaza Fiesta has reached 75 percent occupancy, Adonay said, with approximately 31,000 square feet available for "permanent inline" tenants. Most of that space is located behind Hamricks, one of a handful of tenants from the Crossroads Mall days that remained after Capital City took over.The mall also features a mercado section consisting of 320 10-foot by 10-foot market-style stalls that are leased to tenants who sell everything from jewelry and sports equipment to electronics and life insurance. About 100 stalls remain available."Things slowed down a little last October, and this year with gas prices and the down economy things are slower," Adonay said. "But we're confident we'll be full soon."In the coming weeks a bank branch and an arcade will open inside the mall. A martial arts academy is also negotiating with Plaza Fiesta for space. In addition to that, Adonay said the company hopes to get a national electronics retailer to open in the mall or in the new open air market expansion. Between the two anchors, which would take up 62,000 square feet and 40,000 square feet, the expansion will include some inline tenants. Should the grocery store pan out, it will take over another 60,000 square feet.Capital City is working on preliminary designs for the expansion to give the potential tenants an idea of what the finished product will look like. The overall size of the expansion and the timing of when Capital City files applications for permits will depend in part on whether those potential tenants like what they see, Adonay said. The expansion could be open for business 12 to 18 months after Capital City secures the necessary permits from York County.The sports and entertainment complex will include at least one soccer field with bleachers - Adonay envisions hosting tournaments eventually - and space for lives music, festivals and other community events.Last weekend, even before the ground has been broken on the entertainment complex, Plaza Fiesta hosted its first concert, an all-day Latin Music festival with 30 artists from around Latin America. Nearly 40,000 people showed up."Fortunately, we went 12 hours and nothing went wrong," Adonay said.Since reopening, traffic in the mall has grown from about 3,000 customers to more than 25,000. The biggest challenge for the company now is to reach potential customers outside of the Latino community, meaning 80 percent of the Charlotte region's population."The announcement by Plaza Fiesta is very good news,"York County Regional Chamber of Commerce President Rob Youngblood said. "I think with gas prices where they are people aren't driving as far and are spending more money here."The expansion of Plaza Fiesta gives more local small businesses an opportunity to open and serve area customers, Youngblood said. The mall's success thus far illustrates just how diverse the population of the area has become, and highlights the need to do more to address that diversity throughout the county.Prior to moving to Fort Mill, Capital City redeveloped an Atlanta mall in a similar fashion. Adonay said the company learned a lot from that project which it used to make Plaza Fiesta Carolinas better."Fort Mill is a refinement of what we did in Atlanta," he said. "We took this one to the next level, it's better planned and there's more detailed work."