The nation's first-ever privately funded port of entry development, designed a precedent-setting, world-class $260 million retail, entertainment and culturally gateway between the U.S. and Mexico, steps into the public spotlight November 16 with the grand opening of its first phase. The Shops at Las Americas, in San Diego. The ambitious 1.4 million-square-foot project, called Las Americas (formerly developed as International Gateway of the Americas), is located just off Interstate 5 in San Diego at the U.S./Mexico border, adjacent to the world's busiest port of entry.
Heralded by San Diego city officials as "a model for the 21st Century," Las Americas is envisioned as a state-of-the-art port of entry welcoming tourists and visitors traveling between the U.S. and Mexico. The signature piece of the project is a proposed pedestrian bridge, currently on the agenda at the highest levels of government on both sides of the border. The suspension bridge, soaring 150 feet into the air and spanning the U.S. border where it meets the Tijuana River, will link the two countries together, less than a thousand yards away from the existing U.S. port of entry side in San Diego, the world's busiest and most heavily traveled border crossing.
"This project is designed to create a monumental gateway for the U.S. and Mexico, symbolizing the friendship between our two countries and celebrating the convergence of both cultures," said C. Samuel Marasco III, president of San Diego-based LandGrant Development, which is developing the project in cooperation with city, state and federal government officials.
Construction on Las Americas is moving forward in three phases of development. The first stage, The Shops at Las Americas, will celebrate its grand opening Nov. 16-18, beginning with official public welcoming ceremonies on Friday, Nov. 16, at 10 a.m. The Shops at Las Americas encompasses 370,000 square feet of open-air retail and restaurant space designed to create an urban village atmosphere. It features distinct plazas designed in classic Spanish architecture and boasts up to 75 tenants, including leading brand names such as Nike, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Liz Claiborne, Casual Corner, Nautica and Outback Steakhouse.
The second phase, set to open in late 2002, will include approximately 270,000 square feet of additional retail space and a proposed new 25,000-square-foot public library/cultural center. The third phase of the project involves the construction of the landmark pedestrian bridge, together with a 26,000-sq. ft. port of entry facility, a multi-modal transit center, a hotel and conference center, an office tower, 110,000 square feet of outdoor entertainment space for concerts and special events, and 200,000 square feet of retail space, including duty-free shopping.
The bridge will be anchored on the U.S. and Mexico sides with state-of-the-art federal inspection facilities for customs and immigrations officials. It will span 558 feet across the Tijuana River and link the project to Avenida Revolución, which extends through the heart of Tijuana's busy tourism and shopping district.
In addition to serving as a new port of entry between the U.S. and Mexico, LandGrant officials say the pedestrian bridge will help relieve traffic congestion at the existing U.S. border entry, where more than 86 million travelers make the annual journey between San Diego and Tijuana. The developer estimates that, upon its completion, approximately 7.5 million visitors will cross the footbridge annually.
Las Americas is recognized as the largest and most significant development along the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico, not only because of its size and scope but also due to its innovative, bi-national public/private partnership structure and unprecedented cooperation and support of the U.S. and Mexican municipal state and federal governments.