By Kian Kiasaleh | Arts & Entertainment Editor
September 10, 2015
Opening in December, the outlet mall is an unprecedented commercial step from the idyllic beach town that is San Clemente.
Approved back in 2003 and heavily debated since, the Marblehead Coastal development that initiated the shopping center’s construction is now finalizing its first phase of the project. Residents can expect over 70 new stores covering 325,000 square feet of space. The mall extends along the I5 freeway, covering the distance between the exits of Vista Hermosa and Avenida Pico. The once untouched hills overlooking North Beach will now be home to our very own, “Outlets at San Clemente.”
Since we won’t have to embark on those half-hour commutes to the Mission Viejo Mall anymore, our outlet mall will be the essential “hot spot.” That means more traffic clogging our small town streets. Considering we often take the open roads here for granted, adapting to the occasional traffic may prove to be more difficult for some. Senior Matt Ortiz whispers, “I won’t be able to stand all the traffic causing me to be late for the place I need to be.”
Many locals dread the new outlet mall, seeing it as a step toward commercializing our laid-back surf city. “I like our little village by the sea,” Tyler Meisinger (12) explained, “and I don’t want it to turn into the next Huntington Beach before I can retire here.” Craig Realty, the developers of the mall, boasts that the shopping center will garner tourism. While more visitors may stimulate our city’s economy, many residents like Natalie Nasongkhla shudder at the idea of “unwanted tourists” pouring in and crowding the area.
The arena of glossy stores and fine cuisine bothers some but excites others. Senior Cameron Anderson looks forward to various job opportunities Outlets at SC will present. Ranging from the familiar Tilly’s to the obligatory Starbucks, the shopping center provides countless places to both work and hang out with friends.
“I’m hoping to score a position at H&M!” quips Sophomore James West.
Jacqueline Lewis (12) raises a point that “the new outlet mall is going to put out the already struggling smaller businesses and strip San Clemente of its sense of community.” How can the quaint boutiques on Del Mar compete with Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and other retail giants? Many others, like Jacqueline, feel that San Clemente should foster small business and that a corporate mall goes against small town values. The debate seems to be a tug-of-war between maintaining our humble roots and embracing change. Yet whether we like it or not, the outlet mall is here to stay.
In spite of many people urging Mr. Gorbachev to tear down this mall, the heads of the project ensure that Outlets at San Clemente will enrich, not disrupt, our town. As we near the grand opening, we can only hope the benefits outweigh the detriments. Ideally, “Outlets at San Clemente” will unify the community and most importantly, provide us with an enhanced shopping experience.