July 16, 2014

10 things to know as Steele Creek outlets near completion in Charlotte

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the first outlet mall in Charlotte, with the new shopping destination set to open July 31.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the first outlet mall in Charlotte, with the new shopping destination set to open July 31.

The 400,000-square-foot Charlotte Premium Outlets will have about 100 stores when it opens and will employ about 900 people. The Steele Creek retail center is the first new mall in Charlotte since Northlake Mall opened in 2005.

The mall is a joint venture of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group, which owns SouthPark mall and Concord Mills, just over the border in Cabarrus County. Work started on the site at Dixie River and Shopton roads in September.

Wednesday, workers continued to labor on the buildings while company executives took local media on a tour. Saks 5th Avenue Off Fifth is the mall’s anchor tenant, and other retailers at the center will include Le Creuset, Kate Spade New York, Crocs and Sunglass Hut.

Here are 10 things to know about Charlotte’s new mall:

• The mall’s developers project it will bring in annual sales totaling $140 million, generating $10 million in annual sales tax.
• It’s big, but far from Charlotte’s biggest mall. At 400,000 square feet, Charlotte Premium Outlets has a large number of stores but is significantly smaller than SouthPark (1.6 million square feet), Northlake (1.1 million square feet), Concord Mills (1.4 million square feet) and Carolina Place (1.2 million square feet).
• The mall’s anchor retailer is Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth. Other brand-name retailers include the Ann Taylor Factory Store, Jos. A Bank, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, White House Black Market, Nike Factory Store and Le Creuset.
• The mall could grow in coming years. When Charlotte City Council approved the mall’s rezoning last year, it allowed up to 125,000 more square feet for growth at the mall and a future 120-room hotel on the Charlotte Premium Outlets site.
• Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are helping with the construction costs. The city and county agreed to give the mall developers $5.1 million in tax rebates over the next 10 years to help offset the cost of building new infrastructure at the site.
• Outlets aren’t just stocked with unsold merchandise or damaged and imperfect goods anymore. Although they started as outlets for such goods, most of what is sold in outlet malls now is specifically manufactured by retailers for the outlets, with subtle differences from full-line goods. According to Linda Humphers, editor-in-chief of Value Retail News, about 75 percent of the goods sold are custom-made for outlets.
• With Concord Mills 25 miles away from Charlotte Premium Outlets, you might wonder why Simon Property Group would want to build another outlet mall so close. But the Premium Outlets and “The Mills,” as Simon calls its group of Mills malls, are built around different business models. The Mills are typically several times larger and combine traditional mall stores, outlet stores, entertainment venues and big-box retailers.
• Expect a lot more outlet malls than regular malls in the coming years. While 11 outlet malls opened nationwide in 2013 and 11 more are set to open this year, only a handful of traditional regional malls have opened since the recession. In Charlotte, Eastland Mall closed and has been demolished, while Northlake Mall was recently sold as its former owner Taubman shed a half-dozen of its malls with lower sales.
• The mall will have a “VIP Shopper Lounge” opening day said Holly Roberson, developer of marketing and business development. Those who sign up beforehand online will have access to amenities such as massages, a ponytail bar and celebrity appearances, Roberson said.
• Parents of babies and young kids will appreciate family-friendly features, such as three nursing stations, all with comfy seating, televisions with DVD players and an attached restroom. And many of the children’s clothing stores are grouped in one area, including Gymboree, Carter’s and OshKosh.

Staff writers Elisabeth Arriero and Cristina Bolling contributed

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