While researching and analyzing cities and locations for Apple retail stores, the company’s retail team has pondered El Paso (Tex.) carefully—it has been one of the most intriguing opportunities on their list of possibilities. Now the team has made their choice, and will locate a store on the ground floor of the Cielo Vista Mall along Interstate 10 on the city’s east side. The Simon Property Group mall covers 1.2 million square-feet and has 140 shops, all just three miles from the Mexico border town of Ciudad Juarez. According to city building permits, the store will occupy a space next to the Gap store on the lower level and cost $500,000 to construct. Importantly, on the U.S. side of the border, the store will fill in a huge, seven-state black-out zone serviced only by the ABQ Uptown (NM) store. From the other side of the border, it will attract Mexico residents to the closest Apple store access across the entire chain (Otay Ranch, Calif. is second-closest at five miles). And significantly, government research says those Mexican residents account for about 16 percent of retail sales within El Paso, or about $1.6 billion a year. Lastly, and perhaps most intriguing, the average household income of Cielo Vista visitors is among the three lowest in Apple’s chain according to IFO research, just $43,079. Yet according to a 2010 Experian report on Apple store locations, El Paso is the fourth most-loyal city without an Apple store, and #36 in loyalty overall. Based on construction schedules, the store could open in early 2012.
A group of investors has announced construction of the Fountains at Farah shopping mall just south of the Cielo Vista Mall, on the adjacent 55-acre site of a former jeans manufacturing plant. The mall will reportedly be upscale and expansive, but won’t open until at least late 2012. It’s not clear what factors Apple’s retail team considered when deciding to lease at Cielo Vista now and not wait for the new mall to open. [leasing brochure, pdf]