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Fiesta down

The Durham/North Shepherd strip, from about 11th Street up, has largely been immune to the implacable Heights-area gentrification machine. That may be about to change.

One of the oldest Fiesta stores is closing at the end of this month, leaving a large Inner Loop site potentially available for redevelopment.

The store at 2300 N. Shepherd is closing for “business reasons,” a company spokesman said Friday.

“It’s an older facility, and we just felt like we could invest the money wiser on some of our other stores,” said Fiesta Mart’s David de Kanter, who believes the store may have opened around 1974.

The grocery chain was founded two years earlier by Donald Bonham and O.C. Mendenhall to cater to Hispanic shoppers.

The building spans nearly 68,000 square feet on a roughly 4-acre property in the northern Heights area, where old industrial and retail properties are being torn down or renovated to make way for trendy restaurants and high-density housing.

Some of that is happening, but on the smaller streets, not on Durham and Shepherd, which are still mostly a collection of car lots, self-storage places, and small businesses. Outside of the one square block between 19th and 20th, these two thoroughfares haven’t changed much at all in the almost 20 years I’ve lived in the Heights. The closure and sale of this Fiesta, which sits on a huge piece of land, represents a unique opportunity for change on a big scale. Whether that happens or not depends in large part on what this property gets developed into. I look forward to hearing what the plans are.

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