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McALLEN, RGV – One of the man complaints shoppers have about visiting McAllen’s La Plaza Mall is the time it takes to find a parking place. When one finds a slot it is often a long way from the stores.

Simon Property Group, the owners of the mall, says it has addressed this issue in a major new expansion project to begin next year. Two new parking decks are to be built in a project that includes the demolition of the Sears store.

“A two-level, 500-car parking deck will be built adjacent to Macy’s to serve the mall and Macy’s. A second two-level, 700-car parking deck will be built to serve JC Penney, Dillard’s and the mall,” a news release states. Simon will also upgrade the interior of the mall with new flooring, lighting, restrooms, luxury seating and landscaping.

Situated on South 10th Street and Expressway 83 in McAllen, La Plaza Mall has been described as the Rio Grande Valley’s retail hub. Situated about eight miles from the Mexico border, it is a popular shopping destination for visitors from Reynosa, Monterrey and Saltillo.

La Plaza Mall opened in 1976 and is anchored by Dillard’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Macy’s Home & Children’s Store and Sears. In total, it features over 1.2 million square feet of upscale and mainstream retail space with over 150 specialty retailers. These include BCBGMAXAZRIA, Marciano, Michael Kors and Pandora, as well as more traditional retailers like Express, American Eagle Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and Aéropostale. La Plaza Mall recently completed the expansion and renovation of its new food court, La Plaza Cafes. Eateries now include Green Leafs Beyond Great, and Charley’s Subs.

Simon Property Group says that the expansion plans it has for La Plaza Mall will bring significant improvements. The first phase of the expansion plan is to demolish the Sears store in January 2016. This will create space for a newly constructed wing that will accommodate an 80,000 square foot, two-level anchor, two junior anchors, 50 to 60 specialty stores and four to eight restaurants. The group says this expansion will open in time for Texas’ tax-free weekend in 2017.

Simon says it will then expand further with new space between Macy’s and JC Penney. This portion of the expansion will add another 20 to 25 shops and several restaurants.

“We are thrilled to announce plans to take what is already one of the most productive properties in our portfolio to even higher levels,” said David Contis, president of Simon’s mall division. “La Plaza Mall has long been a property where demand for space has far exceeded supply and now we will be able to satisfy a broader set of high quality retailers and restaurants.”

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling issued this statement: “McAllen is proud to be home to La Plaza Mall, a retail landmark since 1976, and we have enjoyed a great working relationship with Simon Property Group. We’re thrilled about the planned expansion and its impact on job creation, tourism, and quality of life for Rio Grande Valley residents and visitors.”

Simon Property Group is viewed as a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development. It is rated an S&P100 company and has retail properties and investments across North America, Europe and Asia. Millions of shoppers visit its stores every day, generating billions in annual retail sales.