Primm mall set to add space

Owners of an outlet mall known largely for its remote Mojave desert location are prepared to invest $141 million to expand their property in Primm — a community that’s grown from an isolated pit stop for Las Vegas-bound Californians to a bustling destination for shopping, gambling and entertainment.

A spokeswoman for Talisman Cos. of Coral Gables, Fla., confirmed the gist of an Internet report that Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas will expand nearly 60 percent, a huge leap for a retail property some predicted would wither and die due to its location nearly 40 miles from Las Vegas.

According to the report, Talisman will increase the mall’s size from 371,000 to 521,000 square feet. Talisman spokeswoman Ann Ackerman declined to elaborate beyond the report.

“We are looking at an expansion,” Ackerman said. “But we are not at a point where we can confirm anything.”

The mall has more than 100 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Polo, Williams-Sonoma and Tommy Bahama. Tourists represent more than 80 percent of the customers at the mall, which attracts shoppers visiting from as close as California to as far as Japan.

When the mall opened in 1998 there were questions about whether it would attract and retain tenants. Doubts about the Primm mall existed as recently as 2002, when Las Vegas Premium Outlets was under construction near downtown Las Vegas. There were suggestions the Primm mall would have trouble competing with the two Chelsea Property Group-owned other outlets in Las Vegas.

The mall has survived and, apparently, prospered despite the competition.

“If they are planning on expanding, obviously they found a way to make it work,” said Michael Kammerling, senior retail adviser for Grubb & Ellis Las Vegas.

Kammerling attributed the Primm mall’s success to an increasingly sophisticated array of stores that continue to attract customers from the freeway. The shopping has evolved from the early days when, Kammerling said, Primm visitors were likelier to find a livestock show than designer clothes.

“They were just putting in anything that would bring people in and probably pay the rent,” he said.

With Las Vegas expanding along Interstate 15 toward Primm, the future bodes well for the mall.

Herbst Gaming recently agreed to pay $400 million to buy three Primm-area casinos from MGM Mirage. And the Clark County Department of Aviation has plans for an international airport that could open near Jean in 2017.

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