Sparse outlet center inspires a few ideas
by Sam Matthews
Aug 08, 2014 | 4215 views | 16 16 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Driving north on MacArthur Drive on Wednesday, I decided to make a quick right and see what’s happening — or more accurately, not happening — at Tracy Outlets.

A couple of months ago, the people at the Levi’s store, one of four retail stores still open at the time, said that Levi’s, offering mostly jeans and shirts, was closing in August.

Not so, one of the employees told me Wednesday.

“We’ll stay open as long as the center does,” she said.

Any new developments? I asked.

“None that I know of,” she replied. “They’re still trying to figure it out.”

“They” in this case are the two young entrepreneurs, Rick Cordes and Gary Patterson, who own and operate Tracy Outlets under the name of Northwest Assets Inc. They own several other centers.

I checked in with Denise Zierott, property manager of Northwest Assets, and she told me there was nothing new to report.

The former center manager, Elaine Yager of Tracy, told me several years ago before her job was eliminated that the owners were trying to attract an anchor store to revive the center. I have a hunch that could still be the plan, but right now that place looks like something close to a ghost town. There are still four active tenants — Levi’s, Corningware, Luxury Perfumes and Carter’s children’s wear. All are on the south side of the horseshoe-shaped retail area with the open end on the east side. Everything else is vacant.

It seems like a long shot that the property — 20 acres in the center and another 15 undeveloped acres to the east — will be turned into a new outlet or retail center. That’s a surmise on my part, but the history of the outlet center and its present condition don’t offer bright prospects.

Because of its strategic location near the intersection of MacArthur Drive and Interstate 205, the facility — and at least the land — has real value and potential.

One possibility I have mentioned before is turning the property into an instructional center for San Joaquin Delta College. There’s a plethora of reasons, real or imagined, why that won’t happen, but the buildings (40 storefronts) could be converted and new structures added. The 35-acre site might be considered too small for a full campus, but an instructional center might be possible.

With its location near an I-205 interchange on Tracy’s east side, it would provide easy access for students not only from Tracy but also from Lathrop and Manteca — and that’s a key consideration.

How that would jive with the present Delta South County Campus at Mountain House is a key, thorny question. Complement it with a twin facility, move it or close it — who knows?

Besides Delta, I’m sure there are other potential uses for the center. I’ve heard mention of a truck terminal for the many trucks moving in and out of the nearby warehouses as one possibility.

Some kind of small industry or possibly a business catering to travelers also might appreciate being near a freeway interchange. There are countless possibilities.

The final decision has to be made by the owners, but possible options can be advanced by the community for their consideration and evaluation. Anyway, it’s worth talking about. Any ideas?

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus can be reached at 839-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

 
Comments
(16)
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1219tracy
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August 24, 2014
Something has to be done about the lack of shopping here in Tracy. Tracy is losing a lot of revenue. With a town of 80,000 we should be able to attract way better stores than what we have. I'm tired of going to other town to do all my clothes, furniture shopping. My daughters need back to school clothes off to Pleasanton we go. Need a prom dress off to Dublin. The mall needs renovation and a second story added to make it attractive to better stores. If you get rid of Target there goes the mall. There needs to be stores that can support Target and Macy's so the mall can thrive. The outlets had some good stores when we first moved here. I don't know why they couldn't attract more stores. It is in a bad part of town and out of the way. The Livermore outlets have tour buses that arrive there and also people come from the Oakland airport, when they have a layover when traveling from other countries, by train to shop. Tracy needs to be more aggressive and welcoming to potential stores. Maybe the north part of town needs to be renovated so it looks more inviting and not so industrial. Hopefully the new city manager has some ideas.
warthog69
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August 21, 2014
Bull doze it, the place is a ghost town.
Sneaky
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August 21, 2014
The key thing that the owners and some other folks don't seem to get is related to location. The article describes it as a "strategic" location. Why? For what use? Personally it strikes me as a lousy location for much of anything. Why on Earth would I drive 5 miles East to a run down side of town to visit a handful of stores with nothing else worth visiting around them when the mall is less than 2 miles northeast of me and has much more surrounding it?

The wife and I visited the outlet stores once, just after moving here 10 years ago, and have not been back since. In addition to the lousy location it was as others here have described it; unappealing in terms of store options, parking, food options, restrooms, appearance, the kind of folks in the stores, etc.. Even if it were appealing in all those areas I probably still wouldn't go there due to the location.
walkingdead
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August 21, 2014
Excuse me? I happen to live in that "run down side of town" for 24 years and it is NOT rundown at all. We live in a beautiful neighborhood with great neighbors. The Cabrillo Park development has far less crime than so called "upscale" developments. As far as the rest of your comment, I agree 100%.
Sneaky
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August 21, 2014
I was thinking about this some more after I wrote this and realized that the only way something will be successful in that location is if it is unique enough (while still having some market) to get people to drive clear to the opposite side of town relative to most of the local retail.

Trader Joes? No, that is just groceries. Sure, folks might go in there and buy a few things if it is right next to other stores but they would not drive to the other side of town for it, at least I wouldn't. Clothing, target, etc? No, same issue.

Three things come to mind:

1) go kart track. There are none in the area. People who use them have to go to Livermore or Dublin or Stockton. I go to one in Fremont with coworkers once in a while but would be inclined to go much more frequently if I had one nearby.

2) This will sound crude but: titty bar / gentlemans club / casino. Being a largely industrial area away from schools and houses makes the location perfect for an adult venue and we don't have any currently.

3) Automobile performance / speed shop, perhaps combined with a classic car sales showroom similar to Kassabian motors in Livermore. Again, sorely lacking here.

walkingdead
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August 23, 2014
How about a small theme park or a small water park? A Drive-In theater perhaps?
Betnags
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August 20, 2014
You are all sitting in front of the only growing trend in shopping. Online. I would not hold my breath that any "renewal" is going to take hold in Tracy.
spreej
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August 19, 2014
I think they should put in a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's.
telacumooot
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August 19, 2014
U don't just pop in TJs or Whole Foods. Especially given the demographics near there. The population and demographics is not nearly enough to support something like that. Those stores would have to have a reason to want to come. And given that half the 80k people are not exactly rich... I don't want to say its a dumb idea, but probably not well thought out once you consider the customer base (or lack thereof) just won't attract those types of stores. Winco. Sure there are probably over 60 thousand people on the north side of Tracy who would buy groceries from Winco / SaveMart / Luckys / PackAndSave stores even if they were located near blight on the north side of Tracy. The other 20 thousand shop at Raleys. Except for the specialty Halal / Asian / South side Mex & Mi Casa markets. That's simply not enough people to justify these stores in that location.

Just saying.
telacumooot
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August 19, 2014
I think the owner of that mall needs to rethink their business plan or sell it. The way it situated is seeriously lacking in many areas. The colors they used are OFF and unattractive. For starters it already needs new color paint. Then the parking lot sucks. Its hot and the few short trees offer absolutely zero shade. For years they needed to expand into the adjacent field and offer not just shopping but more. The one bathroom area is uck. And there is nowhere to sit down without watching people come out of baths or cars in a parking lot. Nowhere to play and now here to eat. And no shade. Mybrecommendation. Sell it. You've had your chance and you blew it. It actually costs less to do this than you think. A notepad and pencil a rental car and plane ticket to visit four other successful malls. Under $1000. And get rid of that awful paint consultant who charged several thousands. Just saying.
75erforlife
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August 09, 2014
Agreed. Not really a big fan of shopping at the mall Target store, mostly because it's in the mall. I prefer the stand alone stores such as Manteca, Salida, or Lathrop Target. It would behoove Target to look seriously at moving their store. I think it's an excellent idea to put one at the outlets site. Seeing how Target does in Lathrop as a stand alone, I would say a major department store or business would have no problem there. It would be better than the ghost town the outlets are now.
KJeff95376
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August 19, 2014
A move makes no sense. Outside of the Outlets, there is nothing else over there. I wouldn't drive to the opposite side of town just for Target, and then back to this side so I can hit the other stores I need. I'd probably just start going to the Target across from my work in Fremont before coming home for the night - at least it isn't way out of my way. Another reason to stop spending Money in Tracy....anyone getting the Trend, yet?
telacumooot
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August 19, 2014
A trend yes. U hava job in Fremont and you shop there. Not all of us drive to Fremont and so when I shop I save fuel costs and shop right here at home. Good luck.
telacumooot
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August 19, 2014
No. No. No. Leave Target where it is. If you don't like Target at a mall, use another entrance. And return your carts please.
kscarmack
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August 08, 2014
It's disheartening to see how the outlets have went. A lot of the stores in there went to the new ones built in Livermore (which is almost always packed when you drive by on weekends).

My suggestion (as a 16-year Tracy resident) is to demolish the current buildings there. This would be a great time to build a nice shopping plaza here in Tracy (not anything like what we have currently at West Valley Mall).

By using the land in the area, we might actually be able to obtain decent department stores (such as a Kohl's or a nicer Target not attached to the mall). We need to be able to compete with the Bay Area, Modesto, Stockton, and even Manteca. Tracy has potential and we need to be able to provide places to shop here (and keep the sales tax money here with it along with providing jobs for our residents).
KJeff95376
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August 08, 2014
I realized there was no benefit to heading out to the "Outlet" stores, as you were still paying Full Retail prices. The Allure of Outlet Shopping was always the reduced cost - not huge savings, but enough to make you feel as though you were getting some good deals. In Tracy, the Outlets never acted like Outlets. Perhaps if you find businesses that actually offer Discounted Brands, then you may revive the center. Otherwise, who is traveling to the edge of town to get the exact same deals you get at the Mall?


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