Plaza Las Américas
|Location||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Opening date||September 3, 1968|
|Developer||Empresas Fonalledas, Inc.|
|Owner||Plaza Las Américas, Inc
Empresas Fonalledas, Inc.
|No. of stores and services||300+|
|No. of anchor tenants||7|
|Total retail floor area||2.228 million ft² (2.374 million ft² including office building)|
|No. of floors||3 of shopping mall
12 of office bldg. ("La Torre")
Plaza Las Américas is a shopping mall in Hato Rey, San Juan, Puerto Rico, located at the intersection of Routes 18 and 22. It is near the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, and the WKAQ-TV's studios. "Plaza", as it is known to many Puerto Ricans, was the first indoor shopping mall built in Puerto Rico. It is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean and the second largest in Latin America.
In 1918, brothers Jerónimo, Rosa, Gerardo and Jaime Fonalledas acquired 527 acres (2.13 km2) of land previously known as "Las Monjas". This land was property of Don Pablo Ubarri Capetillo, the Count of Santurce. By 1920, little by little cane harvesting was eliminated with the intention of using the land for the creation of a milk company, eventually known as "Vaquería Tres Monjitas". In 1950, the metropolitan area of San Juan was growing rapidly. The planning board began to build the project and ordered the development of the lands. It is then that the Fonalledas brothers came up with the idea of establishing a regional shopping center in the "Las Monjas" property. The planning board included a space of 15 acres of land for a shopping center in its development plan. In 1962, the plans for the construction of a shopping center and the negotiations with tenants began. In April 1967, construction of Plaza Las Americas began under the direction of engineer Peter Jacobson. On September 3, 1968, Plaza Las Americas hold its grand opening. It was the first enclosed shopping center in Puerto Rico and the largest in Latin America. The project was inaugurated with a total of 79 establishments, a twin cinema and parking for 4,000 vehicles. One hundred percent of the space is rented and nearly 2,000 people were employed in the new mall. The primary anchor store is a three-level (261,500 square foot) J. C. Penney. It was the chain's first location outside the fifty states and its largest operation between 1968 and 1971. The mall also housed two San Juan-based department stores as its second and third anchors. These are a two-level (76,500 square foot) Gonzales Padin and (22,000 square foot) Velasco. Inline stores include Martha Washington Ice Cream, Gordon's Jewelers, Florsheim Shoes, La Esquina Famosa (men's clothing), Bakers (shoes), Zales, Clubman, Marianne Shops, Singer Sewing Center, Lerner Shops, Thom McAn, La Favorita and First Federal Savings Bank, along with an F. W. Woolworth Company, Farmacias Gonzalez (pharmacy), La Cosa (curios), La Tienda Sin Nombre (shoes), Benny's Toys, Pueblo Supermarket, travel agency and a full-sized hardware store. A small section had a second floor where medical and business offices were accessible. The following year, the architectural design of Plaza las Americas won the URBE Award for Best Commercial Architecture
In 1979, the first expansion of the shopping center was completed. Fifty five new stores were added in a three-level North Wing. This is anchored by a 3-level (329,000 square foot) Sears. The "Terraza de Plaza", the first food court to be established in the island, comprises the third level of the addition, along with three additional movie theater halls, nicknamed Plaza III, Plaza IV, and Plaza V. In 1992, the new development plan for the second great expansion of Plaza Las Americas is published. In 1994, the expansion of Plaza Las Américas and also the remodeling of "La Terraza" were completed. The number of restaurants was increased from 19 to 24 and the movie theater halls from 5 to 10. The construction of the "Torre de Plaza" is finished at a cost of $15 million. The Tower added 146,000 square feet (13,600 m2) of profitable space to the shopping center. In 1996, Plaza Las Americas announced its largest expansion and remodeling at a cost of more than $246 million. In 1997, the advertising campaign of Plaza Las Americas ("Menos mal que está Plaza") is awarded the Maxi Award which is granted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The following year, the first phase of the center's three-year-long expansion and renovation is dedicated. This consists of a newly built four-level (350,000 square foot) J.C. Penney, replacing the three-level store that had opened at the mall in 1968. The new Penney's at Plaza Las Americas is the chain's largest store. The original location was subdivided into new retail spaces. In 1999, the overpass bridge on the De Diego Expressway was inaugurated, offering better access to the shopping center.
In 2000, the remodeling and expansion of the shopping center was completed, offering a new facade and a total of 2,100,000 square feet (200,000 m2), occupied by over 300 stores. A three-level (255,000 square foot) Macy’s opened as the third anchor of the shopping center on October 25, making it the chain's first location outside the fifty states. Local movie theater chain Caribbean Cinemas opened a thirteen-screen movie theater and is the busiest and highest-grossing of the entire chain. A concept of "public" art was created in the shopping center, which includes pieces by local artists. In 2012, Plaza Las Américas invested $12 million in remodeling the mall's north entrance facade. The remodeling work began on May 23, 2012 and was completed by mid November 2012, just before the holiday season. In addition, between July–August 2012, expansion began on the multistory parking, located in the southern area of the mall. The expansion extended the five floors of multistory to add over 300 parking spaces. All parking areas of the mall were also repaved while new landscape gardens designs where developed in front of the main entrance. On August 28, 2013, Plaza opened the first ever Cheesecake Factory in Puerto Rico. Sports Authority opened up in mid-2014 which included an expansion of parking spaces.
Notable attributes at Plaza las Americas
- Plaza Las Americas is considered by many to be the Caribbean's leading shopping center.
- It is the largest shopping center in the Caribbean.
- Plaza's Old Navy, Aéropostale, Zara, Nine West, and Pandora are each the busiest and highest grossing in the world.
- Plaza's Macy's was the first one to open in the Caribbean.
- Plaza's Chili's is the highest grossing in the world.
- The defunct Borders Books & Music store was the highest-grossing store in its entire worldwide chain.
- Plaza houses the largest JCPenney store in the world at a full 4 stories.
- The Forever 21, Sephora and Abercrombie & Fitch stores located in the mall were the first stores that each chain opened in Latin America, along with Victoria's Secret and CH Carolina Herrera.
- It holds 2 police stations (PRPD and SJPD), as well as a small fire department post, all of them located in proximity of each other.
- The mall produces approximately 8,000 local jobs.
- The mall has a local economic impact of approximately $268 million.
- The mall has over 11,000 parking spaces.
- Caribbean Cinemas' location at Plaza Las Americas is the busiest and highest-grossing movie theater complex of the entire chain.
- It has the world's largest Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant.
- It houses the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant in the Caribbean, officially opened on August 28, 2013.
- Sports Authority became the sixth largest anchor store. It first opened in mid-2014, followed by an expansion of parking spaces. It closed in 2016 after the company declared bankruptcy.
- JCPenney (350,000 sf; 4 stories)
- Sears (327,000 sf; 3 stories)
- Macy's (255,000 sf; 4 stories)
- Marian Díaz (2012-05-23). "Plaza Las Américas remodelará su fachada". GFR Media Group. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- Preguntas Frecuentes - Plaza Las Americas
- "Our History". Empresas Fonalledas, Inc. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- "Un Imperio Llamado Fonalledas". GFR Media Group. 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- "Leasing Space at PLAZA- The Stores". Empresas Fonalledas, Inc. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Brenda Vázquez (2012-06-19). "El éxito detrás de Chilis y Macaroni Grill". YastaPR. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- Llega a Ponce Romano’s Macaroni Grill - NotiCel.com.
- "Romano's Macaroni Grill en Plaza Las Americas". GFR Media Group. 2004-11-23. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- The Cheesecake Factory abrirá en Plaza Las Américas en el 2013 - Plaza Las Americas.com
- The Cheesecake Factory abre antes de lo previsto - El nuevo Día.com
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