A couple of months ago, the people at the Levi’s store, one of four retail stores still open at the time, said that Levi’s, offering mostly jeans and shirts, was closing in August.
Not so, one of the employees told me Wednesday.
“We’ll stay open as long as the center does,” she said.
Any new developments? I asked.
“None that I know of,” she replied. “They’re still trying to figure it out.”
“They” in this case are the two young entrepreneurs, Rick Cordes and Gary Patterson, who own and operate Tracy Outlets under the name of Northwest Assets Inc. They own several other centers.
I checked in with Denise Zierott, property manager of Northwest Assets, and she told me there was nothing new to report.
The former center manager, Elaine Yager of Tracy, told me several years ago before her job was eliminated that the owners were trying to attract an anchor store to revive the center. I have a hunch that could still be the plan, but right now that place looks like something close to a ghost town. There are still four active tenants — Levi’s, Corningware, Luxury Perfumes and Carter’s children’s wear. All are on the south side of the horseshoe-shaped retail area with the open end on the east side. Everything else is vacant.
It seems like a long shot that the property — 20 acres in the center and another 15 undeveloped acres to the east — will be turned into a new outlet or retail center. That’s a surmise on my part, but the history of the outlet center and its present condition don’t offer bright prospects.
Because of its strategic location near the intersection of MacArthur Drive and Interstate 205, the facility — and at least the land — has real value and potential.
One possibility I have mentioned before is turning the property into an instructional center for San Joaquin Delta College. There’s a plethora of reasons, real or imagined, why that won’t happen, but the buildings (40 storefronts) could be converted and new structures added. The 35-acre site might be considered too small for a full campus, but an instructional center might be possible.
With its location near an I-205 interchange on Tracy’s east side, it would provide easy access for students not only from Tracy but also from Lathrop and Manteca — and that’s a key consideration.
How that would jive with the present Delta South County Campus at Mountain House is a key, thorny question. Complement it with a twin facility, move it or close it — who knows?
Besides Delta, I’m sure there are other potential uses for the center. I’ve heard mention of a truck terminal for the many trucks moving in and out of the nearby warehouses as one possibility.
Some kind of small industry or possibly a business catering to travelers also might appreciate being near a freeway interchange. There are countless possibilities.
The final decision has to be made by the owners, but possible options can be advanced by the community for their consideration and evaluation. Anyway, it’s worth talking about. Any ideas?
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus can be reached at 839-4234 or by email at email@example.com.