The Shops at Las Americas appears to be a property owner’s dream.
The 560,000-square-foot outlet center caters to not only Southern California tourism, but it also serves local residents and Mexican nationals next to the busiest border crossing in the world.
Located at the San Ysidro border crossing off Interstate 5, Las Americas was purchased in late August by Simon Property Group, an Indianapolis-based owner, developer and manager of retail real estate.
Simon purchased the property from the joint venture between Stoltz Real Estate Partners and institutional investors advised by Pacific Coast Capital. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The center will be renamed Las Americas Premium Outlets and will be managed and operated by Simon’s outlet subsidiary, Chelsea Property Group.
Location, Location, Large Numbers
Michele Rothstein, spokeswoman for Chelsea, says the location of Las Americas makes it a highly valued addition to Chelsea’s portfolio.
“Since opening Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets last year in Mercedes, Texas, we have come to better understand the customer who enjoys crossing the border to shop,” said Rothstein. “Las Americas is strategically located at the border of Tijuana and does an excellent job serving the large numbers of Mexican nationals who come here to shop.”
George Whalin, president of Carlsbad-based Retail Management Consultants, says new ownership likely will not affect the outlets’ customer base at all.
“Las Americas already has shoppers from all over Southern California and northern Mexico. Does Simon want to change that? Definitely not,” Whalin said.
Simon now owns three retail properties in San Diego County , Fashion Valley, as well as the Chelsea-operated Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets.
Plans to add to the merchant base of the 125-store outlet mall haven’t been determined, as the space is almost fully leased, says Rothstein.
Stores include a Banana Republic Factory Store, Coach, Gap Outlet, Kenneth Cole, Neiman Marcus Last Call and a Nike Factory Store.
Whalin says that while the merchant mix may change subtly in the future, the most noticeable features of Simon’s presence will be maintenance and marketing.
“Simon didn’t get to be the biggest because they aren’t professional. They know marketing perhaps better than previous owners, and they run a tight ship. All one has to do is compare the Carlsbad Premium Outlets to Las Americas, and there’s your difference,” Whalin said.
According to Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 100,000 people cross the San Ysidro border daily.
Las Americas has become a fixture in the financial and business structure of the San Ysidro community, Wells says.
“They represent half of the dichotomy that is San Ysidro. You have rows of mom and pop shops on one side of the road, and then you have Las Americas, which has become extremely important as part of this business community, as a tax base for San Diego County and as a neighbor,” Wells said.
He added: “Mall General Manager Tom Fallon has remained with the outlet center through the change in ownership, so I trust that they will retain our community essence that it has worked to infuse in the past. I hope this will prevent Las Americas from becoming another generic, cookie-cutter mall.”