Big electronics, appliance store to open, courting Hispanic market
Arizona Daily Star
Jun. 12, 2007

 Gabriela Rico

Tucson, Arizona | Published:
Demographics and Tucson's proximity to Mexico have attracted a mega electronics and appliance retailer to the area.
And English will be optional.
Los Angeles-based La Curacao will open near South Sixth Avenue and Interstate 10 in the fall of 2008 as part of a major renovation of the former Southgate Shopping Center, now called City South Plaza.
The 85,000-square-foot store's business will be conducted in Spanish with bilingual employees available for those who don't speak the language, said Mauricio Fux, the company's senior vice president. The store will hire more than 200 employees, he said.
Fux said store signs will be in Spanish and English.
"Because of the large Hispanic population, we believe it's a good market for us," he said. "And we hope to capture some of the cross-border market."
The store will be the anchor of City South Plaza. The shopping center was sold last year by PDG America Properties to entities called 88 Tampa LLC and HPSC I LLC for $5.6 million. Red Mountain Retail Group, a California-based developer, manages the property.
The shopping center is a collection of empty storefronts now. AZ Swim and Fitness and César Chávez Middle School were the only open occupants Monday afternoon.
The plaza is undergoing a face-lift, and new tenants are being recruited, said Dave Hammack, senior associate with Volk Co. La Curacao plans to build only one Tucson store on the dirt parcel west of the shopping center, he said.
Tucson's DeConcini family built Southgate in the 1950s with Roy Drachman.
Native Tucsonan and former South Side resident Carmen Villa Prezelski said she was sad to see the Southgate name disappear.
She recalled a time when it was a popular hangout.
"Unless you wanted to go Downtown, that was the place to go," Prezelski said. "It wasn't just stores."
The new store hopes to become a focal point like the shopping center of old.
La Curacao stores feature Mayan and Aztec-style architecture, and live entertainment is offered on weekends. A "kids' corner" provides computer classes to children while their parents shop.
Fux said the company wants customers to feel at home.
"We believe retail is partly selling things and partly atmosphere," he said. "We make it fun to come to our stores."
Tomás León, president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said it was only a matter of time before a major Spanish-language retail chain opened its doors in the Old Pueblo.
"People are no longer wondering if it's a good thing to target the Hispanic community," he said. "It's a matter of how."
León doesn't anticipate resistance to the store's philosophy.
"Some people are going to look at it with some reluctance," he said. "But most are going to say: 'Why didn't I think of that?' "
La Curacao has eight stores in California. Its first Arizona store opens at Desert Sky Mall in Phoenix in September.
● Contact Gabriela Rico at 573-4232 or