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Mall of Orange Conversion to Outlet Center Proposed


ORANGE — The Chamber of Commerce and the city's Redevelopment Agency released a joint report this week suggesting that the Mall of Orange be converted to an outlet center.

The development of a regional center for manufacturing outlets and discount stores was just one of many ideas in the report on marketing and development for the city of Orange. It also suggested building an auto mall for car dealerships, cutting back on the development of so-called strip malls in favor of small indoor shopping centers, streamlining the business-permit process and developing a plan to attract light manufacturing.

"This report shows the diversity of businesses needed to make a stable economic base," said Ellen Bonneville, the Redevelopment Agency's economic development operations manager. "It takes small business, large manufacturing concerns and retail establishments. You need every type of business to make a community strong."

The analysis was prepared by Williams-Kuebelbeck & Associates, a consulting firm based in Irvine. The report was commissioned by a joint Redevelopment Agency-Chamber of Commerce committee at a cost of $55,130 and paid for out of committee funds.

Orange also needs an aggressive promotion package to entice businesses to relocate to the city of 110,000, according to the report, released Wednesday.

Anne Simpson, a Williams-Kuebelbeck associate, said: "We recommend that the city develop a comprehensive promotional package that can be distributed to interested developers and businesses."

In encouraging the development of a discount center, the marketing analysis pointed to "lagging" sales at the Mall of Orange, owned by Newman Properties, located in Orange, because of intense competition from nearby Brea Mall and MainPlace/Santa Ana.

"Based on the acceptance of the Citadel in Los Angeles, the owner may wish to bring a similar concept of a large discount outlet center to central Orange County," Simpson said. "The area is oversupplied with regional malls."

The Citadel, which opened in the City of Commerce in November, 1990, contains discount outlets for such popular brand names as the Gap, Ann Taylor, Joan and David Shoes, Lily of France and Benetton.

Mall of Orange officials took immediate exception to the report, insisting that the authors must have meant the nearby City Shopping Center in Orange.

"They've just got wrong information," said Stephanie Greene, Mall of Orange's marketing director. "An outlet mall is now being talked about at The City Shopping Center. We're now undergoing a renovation, and we have the Olive Garden (restaurant chain) planning to open here in June."

Bonneville of the Redevelopment Agency noted that the report merely suggests possibilities.

"I have no idea," she said, why the consultants suggested converting the Mall of Orange. "But it's just a suggestion, and it doesn't mean it's going to happen."

Officials of The City Shopping Center said they are making plans to revitalize business, which they acknowledged has suffered since May Co. closed its department store there two years ago. But they would not confirm whether attracting manufacturer outlets is under consideration.

"A lot of different things are being discussed," said Jack Boyster, The City Shopping Center's manager. "Until a decision is made, we are not commenting on one thought or another."

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