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Plaza Las Américas marks 50 years of growth, change

Plaza Las Américas, the largest shopping center in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, is marking 50 years of doing business on the island, where it has grown from an 800,000 square-foot mall in 1968 to a 2 million square-foot mega retail center now.

During a news conference, Jaime Fonalledas, president of Empresas Fonalledas, the mall’s parent company, dedicated the celebration of its golden anniversary to its customers and the community that “that welcomes us, supports us and motivates us to improve ourselves and to continue transforming ourselves every day.”

“The Plaza that we enjoy today is very different from what it was at its opening in 1968 and I assure you it will be very different from what we will be enjoying 50 years from now,” he said.

“What is not going to change is the unwavering commitment of the administration and our team to continue being that new town square where the Puerto Rican family converges, to continue contributing and stimulating the island’s economy, creating jobs and continuing to attract the best commercial concepts that meet the needs of consumers,” he concluded.

When the mall opened, it had 79 stores, which have increased to 300 at present, as well as an office tower with 146,000 square-foot of leasable space. In 1968, its anchor tenants were JCPenney, Velasco, González Padín, Woolworth. All but JCPenney are gone, replaced by Sears and Macy’s.

Aside from the retailers, Plaza Las Américas began with two movie theaters — whose first film was “The Odd Couple,” and an amphitheater. At present, there are 50 fast food establishments and restaurants, 15 movie theaters, a bookstore and a weekly calendar of fairs, events and entertainment activities.

In all, the shopping center has undergone three expansions to add parking and more retail square footage over the years.

Plaza Las Américas will celebrate its golden anniversary with a party on Sept. 12, which will include a number of entertainment activities and prizes throughout the day. To commemorate its milestone birthday, the mall unveiled a 20 foot sculpture of a massive, seven-tier cake located at its central atrium.

“Plaza Las Américas is the main commercial center in the Caribbean and in Puerto Rico, which during these 50 years has been the capital of fashion, food, entertainment and commitment to Puerto Rico. We will here 50 more years, bringing only the best to our visitors,” said Iris Ayala, marketing director of Plaza Las Américas.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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