Five more retailers have added their names to the roster of tenants moving into The Mall of San Juan and will be making their Puerto Rico debuts when the luxury shopping center opens Mar. 26, mall operator Taubman Centers Inc. revealed late last week.
The new arrivals are eateries Burger & Beer Joint and BRIO Tuscan Grille and apparel retailers Vans 66, Hollister Co. and Tommy Bahama.
Burger & Beer joint is a Miami-based concept that offers a gourmet burger lineup featuring unique sauces and toppings served in an energetic, fun atmosphere with a full bar including more than 75 beers options. The restaurant opened its first location in South Beach in 2009, following that up the following year with a restaurant in the city’s Brickell district.
“In 2013, B&B Joint opened its first licensed store in Pembroke Pines, FL and will be expanding on a national scale with both franchised and corporate stores,” the chain said in its website.
“Burger and Beer Joint is known for its rock and roll vibe and is a destination favorite to both locals and tourists. Patrons experience B&B’s popular happy hour crowd as well as the late night fun; or just a place to go and enjoy a burger for lunch or dinner in a sports-themed environment,” the restaurant posted on its website.
Some highlights on the menu include the 10-pound “Mother Burger,” the fried Twinkie with ice cream, fried zucchini sticks and adult milkshakes.
Meanwhile, BRIO Tuscan Grille features a Tuscan-style menu in an “upscale affordable” setting reminiscent of fine dining restaurants at a value typically offered by casual dining establishments.
As for apparel, the list of newcomers includes action sports footwear retailer Vans 66, which while a brand familiar to the market — sold in retailers such as Journeys, Burlington, Foot Locker and PacSun — it has never had a store of its own.
Hollister Co. “is the fantasy of Southern California.” It features clothing that embodies the laid-back attitude of the U.S. west coast, while keeping it timeless. The same company that runs Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie kids, and Gilly Hicks owns Hollister.
Rounding out the trio of new clothing stores is Tommy Bahama, a Seattle-based manufacturer of casual, men’s and women’s sportswear and activewear, denim, swimwear, accessories, footwear and a complete home furnishings collection. There are more than 130 company-owned Tommy Bahama retail stores nationwide, 14 of which include a Tommy Bahama’s restaurant and bar.
Taubman executives said during a call with investors late last week that it expect The Mall of San Juan to be “80 percent leased and committed” when it opens next month.
“The Mall of San Juan, will open on March 26. It’s an extraordinary center, one of the best we’ve ever built. The natural light, the orientation and flow of the customer in the center, storefront site lines and the views from several of our restaurants will be amazing,” said Robert Taubman, president of Taubman Centers, during the call. “We’re working hard to open every retailer possible on March 26. We’ll announce all of our tenants just before the opening.”
‘Bullish’ on market
During the call, Taubman told investors that the company remains “bullish” on the long-term viability of the market, expecting a 6 percent return when the project fully stabilizes in 2017.
“In fact, as it stabilizes, it will become one of the strongest assets in our portfolio,” he predicted of The Mall of San Juan’s performance.
While admitting that it has been “challenging” to line up tenants, aspects such as strong tourism activity and the renovations taking place at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport are helping to move things along.
“The fundamental investment thesis of this asset is terrific. It’s a very dense market. There are 2.5 million people in San Juan, there’s 3.7 million people on the island, a very high sense of fashion, a lot of fashion conscious customers,” Taubman said.
“There are lot of tourists, more than $4 million annually and very high barriers to entry. It’s an extremely under-retailed market, with only five square feet of shopping center space versus 23 square feet for the U.S. You put all that with Nordstrom’s and Saks and the fundamental investment thesis for San Juan is excellent. It’s taken us longer than we would like, but we’re very excited about its future,” he added.
Simplified VAT structure ‘welcomed’
In response to a question from an analyst, Taubman said the company would welcome the value-added tax system being pushed by the current administration, saying it supports a “simplified tax structure that brings in more revenues to the government and actually encourages people to begin reporting.”
“Now, as part of that, if there’s a VAT tax, we don’t know exactly how that VAT tax will work vis-a-vis other countries, including the U.S., which obviously it’s a territory,” Taubman said.
“In Europe, everybody travels there, the VAT you can get back when you leave. Whether or not a U.S. citizen will be able to do that isn’t clear. Obviously a European or a South American customer or Asian customer will absolutely be able to do that,” he said. “So, it’s not clear yet what all the rules are. It’s got to work its way through. It’s got to figure out whether it even gets passed. But, again, we would welcome and certainly support a more simplified tax structure.”