Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $90 million outlet retail center that’s scheduled to open Thursday, August 7, in Kern County.
The Outlets at Tejon, located off of Interstate 5 about 45 minutes north of Santa Clarita, will be home to more than 70 premier retailers. Top designers in fashion and home goods are stacking their shelves in preparation for the 200,000 to 250,000 shoppers who are expected to arrive for opening weekend.
“We’re expecting about 10 million shoppers a year. That’s about 30,000 a day, on average,” said Barry Zoeller, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for the Tejon Ranch Co.
The 320,000-square-foot retail center sits on 43 acres of the historic Tejon Ranch, the largest single piece of private property in the state with a history that dates back to 1843.
The center, which will be home to outlet retailers including J. Crew, Calvin Klein, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger Company, Coach, Fossil, Gap and Pottery Barn, will fill a gap in retail opportunities found in Bakersfield and North Los Angeles County, providing shoppers with increased value and choice, Zoeller said.
“(Retailers) saw a robust market in Bakersfield and northern L.A. County,” he said. “They saw the hundreds of thousands of motorists who travel on Interstate 5 every day, and they recognize this as a really good opportunity for them. Conversely, it’s a really good opportunity for everyone who lives in the area.”
Heavy traffic is expected on Interstate 5 and surrounding roadways on opening weekend.
“Parking is ample, but it is going to be a challenge,” Zoeller said.
Caltrans, the Kern County Roads Department and the California Highway Patrol will be present to direct traffic and “make sure that it can flow as best as it can.”
“We encourage people to take extra time, and to take their time, because there is going to be a lot of demand for parking spaces,” Zoeller said.
Consumers across the nation are hungry for designer goods at discounted prices, fueling an economic boom in outlet shopping.
According to the Los Angeles Times, outlet centers have seen double-digit sales growth each year since 2007.
A 2014 Consumer Report found that 60 percent of 17,753 shoppers thought outlet centers offered exceptional value, while 75 percent considered the quality of outlet merchandise to be the same as goods found in regular stores.
The Outlets at Tejon is one of 12 outlet centers set to open this year in the United States and Canada. According to Value Retail News, it is the largest in California.
With that comes an increased tax base in Kern County, as well as new jobs.
“Hiring is going on right now, fast and furious,” Zoeller said. He estimates that the center will create 1,500 to 2,500 new jobs.
“It’s hard for us to give an accurate estimate on employment needs, because each store hires and determines that particular number,” he said.
Hiring is expected to continue through opening weekend.
The upscale outlet shopping center was developed by The Rockefeller Group. Its Spanish colonial and mission architectural style was designed by Ross Adams & Associates and constructed by Layton Construction Co. Inc.
“We wanted to make sure that the development reflected the quality of Tejon Ranch and also reflected the ranch’s Legacy ,” Zoeller said.
Tejon Ranch’s history dates back 17 decades. In the 1860s and 1870s, near where the new shopping center sits today at the base of the Grapevine, stood Rose Station, a popular stage coach stop on the Butterfield Stage Line.
“There you had a saloon, a boarding house, a post office, a telegraph office. It was a place where people stopped and where they did commerce,” Zoeller said.
“Now, 150 years later, we’re engaged in that same type of activity, only on a more modern scale.”
Future development on the ranch, including a second retail development phase to meet the demands of both retailers and consumers, is being explored.
“There’s a lot of activity that I’m not yet able to announce that will take place all around the outlet center,” Zoeller said. “We have interest from folks who wanted to be in the center but just came to the game a little bit late but are very interested in a Phase 2. We’re going to explore that option after we open Phase 1.”