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The Shoppes at Carlsbad generating buzz with openings

CARLSBAD — Renovations are nearly done and openings are flooding The Shoppes at Carlsbad just in time for the holiday season.

On Nov. 14, The Cheesecake Factory opened its doors along with Francesca’s, while Nov. 16 saw Pandora opening. The Islands and Zara, another massive clothing retailer, opened recently, while Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle Outfitter renovated their shops and expanded their lines. Clothing giant H&M is also scheduled to open, although no date has been announced.

Graced by Grit is also scheduled to open this month, while Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop comes on line Dec. 4 followed by the Yard House on Dec. 18. Three more restaurants open in the first quarter of 2018 — Breakfast Republic, Nekter and Poke Hut.

Rouse Properties purchased the mall from the Westfield Corporation in 2015 for $170 million, and Rouse has pumped millions more into the renovations.

“We are really pleased with the results so far,” Rouse CEO Brian Harper said, adding that the design plans have pretty much mirrored the results. “What we’ve done in 18 to 24 months is a lot.”

Rouse Properties’ aggressive investment is giving The Shoppes at Carlsbad a rebirth and people are coming. Harper said the flow of traffic has exceeded restaurants’ and retailers’ expectations.

Although the renovations are driving in major national outlets, Harper said there has also been a focus to include local and regional restaurants and retailers to maintain a local feel.

Those local and regional concepts, he said, include Lucha Libre, Breakfast Republic and Graced by Grit, to name a few. Other local businesses, such as the Senor Grubby’s expansion into Grubby’s Poke & Fish Market are also scheduled to open, according to the restaurant’s social media notifications.

“I didn’t want to do just national,” Harper said. “It’s all about curating and having a little bit of everything to satisfy a dynamic consumer.”

The Shoppes at Carlsbad renovations, meanwhile, will be completed in the first quarter of 2018, Harper said. Additional stores and cosmetic landscaping will be finished in March, he added.

To date, 60 leases have been signed covering 262,000 square feet of retail space.

“It’s been a lot of inquiries, even to our headquarters, thanking us,” Harper said. “It’s a great buzz and we’re not done yet. It’s been a huge draw. It’s great real estate and usually with great real estate, you can’t go wrong.”

Last week, The Cheesecake Factory held a preview for guests to dine at the restaurant and as a practice run for the staff.

Joe Phillips, regional vice president of The Cheesecake Factory, said The Shoppes at Carlsbad targets the company’s demographic and likes to be in new malls or renovated properties.

He said more than 4,000 applications were received for the 280-person staff. This location, however, is a bit smaller than others at 7,800 square feet, but the investment from Rouse is why Cheesecake Factory ultimately decided to sign on.

“When we knew this was happening, we knew this was the right spot for Cheesecake Factory to be in,” Phillips added. “The mall itself is trying to attract great dining. With Dave & Buster’s they have great entertainment. We have a great footprint already here in San Diego. This is going to fit nicely for some of those people driving to other locations.”