The Calexico Gran Plaza Outlets brings with it a lot of high hopes, the least of which includes the revitalization of the downtown Calexico economy that has seen a significant downturn over the last several years.
Besides the obvious economic problems we’ve seen in the U.S. and Mexico, border wait times and a stagnant crossing process downtown have impacted the economy as well. In order for the project to be the saving grace the proposed economic benefit numbers say it will be, a couple of things need to happen, including a better, faster and more convenient crossing process. And that’s something out of the hands of developers and local and regional officials.
Regardless, though, we believe the project will be a benefit, to what degree we just don’t know yet. While we love the numbers being bandied about — $140 million to $150 million a year in sales and 1,000 part- or full-time jobs per developed phase — we’ve been around enough rodeos to know that might not be the case for many years into the project’s life, if ever.
It was a positive development to see it move further toward reality at Monday night’s Calexico Planning Commission meeting.
We can see this project being attractive to the clientele now being catered to by the Imperial Valley Mall, which is a different demographic than those who helped the “old” downtown Calexico prosper. With the economy and the number of people working improving faster in Mexicali than in Imperial County, there will probably be more success than we think, especially if the store tenants are high-end outlet retailers like Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger and Gap. We’ve seen those stores be very popular in areas like east San Diego County and Coachella Valley along Interstate 10.
When the federal government does finally pull the trigger on the downtown port expansion project, and once that expansion gets built out, the true potential of Calexico Gran Plaza Outlets will be realized. Until then, it’s all going to be up in the air, simply because the well-heeled of Mexicali, if they plan to make a day of their travel, will head north. If the crossing process is expedited by the port, a quick trip to the outlets will become very appealing.
In all ways, though, this project will be good for Calexico and good for the Valley. When drawing from the purchasing power of Mexicali, and hopefully an improving economic outlook for the Valley, there will be enough business to go around.
Calexico Gran Plaza Outlets is step nearer to reality.
A number of things need to happen to make it economically beneficial.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Send us your thoughts on this topic to www.ivpressonline.com/letterstotheeditor