By Emily Castaneda
Plaza Fiesta is the heart of one of Metro Atlanta’s most diverse communities. It is located on Buford Highway, a three-mile stretch known as Atlanta’s International Corridor because it “brings together more than 65 languages, cultures, cuisines and traditions” according to the Dekalb Convention and Visitors Bureau. When you walk in, you are greeted with vibrant colors and a little taste of home for many. It is filled with small businesses, restaurants, and healthcare services. It is a safe place for many Spanish-speaking families, however many feared their safe place would soon be gone.
Asana Partners, owners of Krog Street Market, recently bought the establishments for more than twice as much as it did 16 years ago. Many worried as to what this would mean for the future of Plaza Fiesta, or if it even had a future. Property Manager Cristina Bolanos heard these rumors spreading and quickly shut them down stating “We’re not closing. I don’t know if when we mentioned that we are not closing, they thought that this is just temporary and that it was a transition, but there are no short or long-term plans on closing the property I don’t know if when we mentioned that we are not closing, they thought that this is just temporary and that is a transition, but there are no short or long term plans on closing the property.” Great news to Atlanta’s residents, however, there is a bigger issue at play here. Gentrification.
Gentrification is the process of transforming poor urban areas by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new business, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process. According to the Urban Displacement Project, approximately 80,000 low-income Atlanta households live in low-income neighborhoods at risk of, or already experiencing, gentrification and/or displacement. The biggest fear behind the sale of Plaza Fiesta was the loss of a big cultural spot, to which gentrification has been a contributor.
Not only are people losing their homes, but entrepreneurs are losing their businesses. With wealthy people coming and buying property to flip or inhabit, property values have doubled or even tripled. Good for those trying to sell, but bad for renters who want to stay as property taxes and rental prices rise as a result. Shops that have been there and successful for decades are being shut down by gentrification and stripping the rich culture in some Atlanta areas and surrounding. Areas that many avoided for decades and turned the blind eye to are now being seen as business opportunities. Atlanta residents deserve to be protected, and so does the rich culture behind it.
30, Maddie Fryer says April, et al. “The Representation of Mexico in Plaza Fiesta.” Languages Across Metro Atlanta LAMA, https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/lama/2022/04/29/the-representation-of-mexico-in-plaza-fiesta/.
(WXIA), Author: Paola Suro. “No, Plaza Fiesta in Atlanta Is Not Closing, Only Changing Management.” 11Alive.Com, 10 Nov. 2022, https://www.11alive.com/article/life/food/plaza-fiesta-rumors-closing-management-change/85-f213939e-65b5-44ce-854d-11beed082167.
“Atlanta – Gentrification and Displacement.” Urban Displacement, https://www.urbandisplacement.org/maps/atlanta-gentrification-and-displacement/.