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‘A match made in heaven’

Outlet stores • Bass Pro • 16 screens • Manteca • JC Penney

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POSTED February 4, 2009 5:24 a.m.
A new retail concept billed by both partners as a “match made in heaven” may turn the Highway 120 Bypass into the epicenter of entertainment/destination shopping in Northern California.

The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley is being transformed into the Lifestyle Outlets at Manteca. Developer Poag & McEwen – the innovator in the field of lifestyle centers – has forged a partnership with Craig Realty Group that has 11 upscale outlet centers with excess of 3.5 million square feet of retail – to lease the next 225,000 square feet of plus retail center at Highway 120 and Union Road that is anchored by Bass Pro Shops.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” said Craig, who has upscale outlet malls in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Palm Springs eight other locations.

Craig, who also had a hand in the designing and marketing of the outlet malls in Napa and St. Helena, noted the drawing power of Bass Pro Shops with customers traveling from a 100-mile radius is a perfect fit to upscale malls that have the same drawing range. Making Manteca even more appealing for Craig is the fact it is the center of the third largest 100-mile radius market in the country. Manteca has 17 million consumers within 100 miles topped only by New York and Los Angeles.

Craig, though, said the growing economic muscle and demographics of the Northern San Joaquin Valley with its 1.2 million consumers was reason enough to partner with Poag & McEwen on the Manteca retail project.

“I’ve always wanted to do an outlet mall in conjunction with a Bass Pro Shops,” Craig said.

Not only did Manteca offer such an opportunity but it had two added bonuses: A 16-screen cinema in the same complex plus a major regional sports draw just a mile away at Big League Dreams sports complex that has out-of-town teams booked for tournaments every weekend of the year including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“Sixty percent of the clothes buying decisions are made by women,” Craig noted.

Craig believes Manteca will be the perfect shopping destination for families. The husbands can hit Bass Pro Shops and the wives can shop the outlets plus JC Penney and Best Buy and they can then all meet at Red Robin or another restaurant for dinner or lunch. The cinema and Hampton Inn that will soon start construction adds the entertainment and lodging dimensions.

It is the next level beyond better run outlet malls such as Gilroy and Vacaville where hotels and restaurants have been built adjacent on site to accommodate those shoppers who travel from farther away and stay overnight.

Joshua Poag - a principal in Poag & McEwen – said when Craig first approached them several months ago he was resistant to the idea.

Then, however, he started thinking about the potential and decided the marriage “would make a good project a great project.”

New direction won’t take away from other Manteca retailers
“The psychology of shoppers has changed whether they have a household income of $20,000 or $100,000,” Poag said of the shift in consumer attitudes caused by the recession triggered by the foreclosure crisis and overextension of credit.

Poag is confident the Manteca partnership will give shoppers what they want - ambiance, pricing, selection, and a destination experienced complete with entertainment.

The switch in direction may end up scrapping plans for Dicks Sporting Goods but that is yet to be seen. There is a possibility that if the strategy works they may be back for the city to request additional square footage on the existing site plus a possible second phase for more retail. Poag, as well as City Manager Steve Pinkerton, believe the shift in direction will fill the lifestyle center quicker and accelerate the collection of sales tax.

“It’s a win-win for everyone – the shoppers, us, Poag & McEwen, the stores, and the city,” Craig noted.

Pinkerton said the new retail strategy strengthens Manteca’s retail climate.

“They (the future tenants in the outlet mall) won’t take away from our existing retailers,” Pinkerton said.

It also isn’t expected to take away from traditional retailers in Stockton, Modesto and Tracy although it could hurt the Tracy Outlet Mall. The new combination is also expected to make it easier to land restaurants as outlet malls traditionally have a large day-time pull due to the destination shopping angle.

Craig expects the fact that the mall site is located close to both Highway 99 and Interstate 5 as well as on the main route from the Bay Area to the Sierra to be a big plus. He noted the Poag & McEwen concept is significantly different than the Tracy Outlet Mall as well as the Outlets at Lathrop which has failed and has since been transformed into an education center.

“We are proud to have the first Bass Pro store in Northern California,” noted Mayor Willie Weatherford. “For Manteca to now be the location for the first lifestyle outlet center in the country is something very special. Our public/private partnership with Poag & McEwen and now Craig Realty Group is a real success story.”

JC Penney is also sold on the concept. There is very little overlap on clothing lines with outlet stores since JC Penney has its own private labels. Craig said he is not aware of an outlet mall that has a Best Buy as part of the complex.

Best Buy is targeting a Feb. 27 opening while JC Penney is opening the first week of March. Ground breaking is expected soon for Red Robin restaurant and the Hampton Inn.

“This is exciting news for Manteca and the surrounding area,” said Bass Pro Shops President Jim Hagale. “We have been very pleased with the traffic and sales at our Manteca store and feel the addition of this development will tremendously enhance the overall shopping experience of our customers.”
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