Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 4:00 am by David James Heiss - Record Gazette
It took quite an idealistic group of investors to imagine that thousands of people could someday flock to the middle of a desert and support a giant shopping mecca in the middle of practically nowhere.
“It’s hard to believe 20 years ago someone had the vision to build in Cabazon,” Desert Hills Premium Outlets general manager Dottie Montana told a group of supporters at a VIP gathering for their April 24 expansion celebration last Thursday. “It’s hard to believe the transformation over the past 18 months,” including 50 more storefronts and an 1,100-space, three-story parking structure. There are now 180 stores at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets.
The county, as well as the City of Banning, the benefit of an anticipated additional $3 million in sales tax revenue (Banning receives 10 percent of the tax revenues from the outlets). In 2013, sales taxes generated more than $3.1 million for Riverside County.
“With this expansion, it is now the finest retail attraction in the world, and it’s right here in the Pass,” said County Supervisor Marion Ashley, one of the dignitaries who spoke at the ceremony. “The fiscal impact is unbelievable. Sales taxes could double in a short while.” He promised that 25 percent of the taxes received by the county from the expansion will automatically be sequestered to fund public safety, citing the fact that, with the expansion comes many more visitors, which invites more targets for crime. Additionally, Ashley said, “Potentially $1 million will be used to improve access and frontage roads” considering that “40 percent of America’s goods flow through the Pass.”
According to Ashley, 40 percent of the county’s tax revenues come from the Desert Hills Premium Outlets and the adjacent Cabazon Outlets; and when the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is factored in, this region of the Pass area contributes 50 percent of Riverside County’s sales taxes.
Among the 146,000 additional square feet of leased space are some newer stores, a few that debuted their retail outlets in the U.S. at Desert Hills Premium Outlets, including British fashion designer
Alexander McQueen and Austrian fashion-inspired designer Helmut Lang.
Other retailers were added with the expansion, including reputed Itailian designer Valentino, and chic and edgy New York tailor Rag & Bone.
The $100 million expansion included nearly 100 miles of additional electrical wiring; 10 miles of irrigation and piping; 300,000 brick paving stones; 100,000 drought-tolerant plants for landscaping, and low-sodium lighting. The equivalent of 76 miles of concrete was poured to widen and install walkways.
The three-story parking deck is as long as three football fields.
Proceeds from a recycling bin installed outside the area’s new information center will be entirely donated to the Indianapolis-based Simon Youth Foundation, a beneficiary of Simon Properties Group, a Fortune 500 company which owns Desert Hills Premium Outlets, that is also based in Indianapolis.
It is estimated that the new outlets will generate more than 400 jobs within the next couple of years.