The Outlets at Orange (formerly known as The Block at Orange and The City Shopping Center) is an open-air outlet mall in Orange, California’s North Orange County that was created by The Mills Corporation and is now owned by Simon Property Group. Dave & Buster’s, Guitar Center, AMC Theatres, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom Rack, Gap, and Bloomingdale’s are the anchor stores in this outlet.
From April 1970 to 1996, the property was home to The City Shopping Center, an enclosed mall with anchor retailers J. C. Penney and San Diego-based Walker Scott, which would become a May Co. branch in 1974. It targeted middle-class citizens, office professionals, and Disneyland guests. The City Shopping Center was the focal point of The City, an edge city mixed-use development; within or near the mall were two hotels, several office buildings, two movie theaters (City Center Theatres and UA the Movies), a gym, three full-service restaurants and a pizzeria, Pepperoni Square (owned by Larrys Pizza in Fullerton) which was sold and became Clubhouse Pizza: Sports and Games, a foreign currency exchange, and a post office. Because they were developed as part of the mall complex, the roads around it were named “City.”
Only two miles away, the modest Santa Ana Fashion Square mall was renamed MainPlace/Santa Ana and dramatically enlarged, increasing from one department store anchor (Bullock’s) to three in September 1987, and commerce at The City began drastically falling by the early 1990s. In May 1991, May Company launched a new store at MainPlace and shuttered its store at The City in July of same year. JCPenney, The City’s other main anchor, went out of business in February 1995. In late 1996, the mall was shuttered and dismantled.
Block at Orange
Mills purchased the site with the intention of converting the City mall into one of their Mills malls named “City Mills,” but instead built an outdoor lifestyle center with outlets, restaurants, and entertainment facilities, most likely due to the fact that another Mills mall in Southern California (Ontario Mills) was already under construction. The former tagline for the center was The Block at Orange… It Ain’t Square. It was The Mills Corporation’s first outdoor mall without the name “Mills.” The Block first opened its doors in November 1998.
Ron Jon Surf Shop closed in 2008, and Neiman Marcus Last Call took its place. In 2009, Virgin Megastore, Hilo Hattie, and Steve & Barry’s all closed their doors. Off Broadway Shoes, H&M, Thrill It Fun Center, and Guitar Center have taken their place as anchors. Borders closed in 2011 owing to the chain’s dissolution and was replaced by Sports Authority, but Sports Authority at the mall and the rest of the company’s stores were liquidated on May 18, 2016 due to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Furniture & Beyond occupied the former Sports Authority premises for a short time before closing less than a year later. The mall boasts one of the country’s few remaining Vans Skate Parks, as most other skateparks closed or were sold to another company in the early 2000s.
The Block at Orange, like other Mills properties, was purchased by the Simon Property Group in 2007.
Outlets at Orange
The Block at Orange was rebranded The Outlets at Orange in 2011.
The Outlets at Orange expanded in two stages on the mall’s east side. The first phase involved the opening of a new Nordstrom Rack store in 2013, which was completed in 2013. The second phase, which included five new retailers such as Gap Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Orange County’s first Bloomingdale’s Outlet, was finished in 2016. The second phase was expected to bring 12 additional stores, but only 5 did since companies like Bloomingdale’s demanded larger sites.
For a long time, Outlets at Orange was the sole outlet mall in Orange County, with the next closest outlet mall being Citadel Outlets in Commerce, 23 miles distant near Central Los Angeles. The Outlets at San Clemente debuted in 2015, and despite being nine miles farther distant than Citadel, it created more serious competition by dethroning Orange as Orange County’s only outlet mall.
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