The Outlets at San Clemente area is an open-air outlet mall in the city of Orange, California, in the central Orange County region of the United States. It was created by The Mills Corporation and is now owned by the Simon Property Group. Dave & Buster’s, Guitar Center, AMC Theatres, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom Rack, Gap, and Bloomingdale’s are some of the anchor retailers in the shopping center.
For a period of over three decades, the property was home to an enclosed mall known as The City Shopping Center, which featured anchor stores such as J. C. Penney and San Diego-based Walker Scott, which would later become a part of the May Company. It was aimed at middle-class citizens, office workers, and tourists to the adjacent Disneyland theme park.
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 were all located in or near the City Shopping Center. The City Shopping Center was the focal point of The City, an edge city mixed-use development. The roads surrounding the mall were given the suffix “City” because they were constructed as part of the same complex.
With the renaming and massive expansion of the small Santa Ana Fashion Square mall, which went from one department store anchor (Bullock’s) to three in September 1987, commerce at The City began falling dramatically by the beginning of the 1990s. It was in May 1991 when May Company built a new store at MainPlace, after which it shuttered its store in The City in July of the same year. JCPenney. The other major anchor of the city, the Hilton, was demolished in February 1995. The mall was closed and dismantled in late 1996, after which it was redeveloped.
Because another Mills mall in Southern California (Ontario Mills) was already under construction at the time of Mills’ purchase, the company initially considered converting the City mall into one of their Mills malls named “City Mills,” but ultimately decided to build an outdoor lifestyle center with outlets, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. The slogan for the center used to be “The Block at Orange… It Ain’t Square.” It was the first outdoor mall built by The Mills Corporation that did not have the “Mills” name. Officially, the Block opened its doors in November of 1998.