CHARLOTTE — One of the two new dueling outlet malls planned on opposite ends of I-485 might not be built, executives at Tanger Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group said in their earnings conference calls.
The centers, which would be called Tanger Outlets Charlotte and Charlotte Premium Outlets, would be about 20 miles apart: Tanger at the I-485 and Steele Creek Road interchange, and Premium Outlets at the I-485 and Idlewild interchange in Stallings. The projects were announced within two days of each other in October.
Some questioned whether both developments would happen, so close to each other and to Concord Mills. In at least one other city with new outlet malls planned so close, one developer backed out.
During a conference call with analysts last week, Tanger CEO Steven Tanger said retailers would decide which project would ultimately happen.
“We are proceeding with our development of the site, and we’ll see which site the tenants support,” Tanger said. The company is based in Greensboro, N.C., and also operates outlets at Mebane, Blowing Rock and other Carolinas locations.
“At the end of the day, the tenant community will decide, regardless of what all the developers say, who has the better site, and will determine which goes forward or if both go forward,” he said.
But Tanger said he thought both projects could be built, and thrive: “Charlotte is one of the top 20 markets in the U.S., and probably could support two outlets in addition to Concord Mills.”
Simon reported its quarterly results last week. CEO David Simon told analysts he doesn’t think both outlets will be built in Charlotte.
“Yes, at the end of the day, my guess is only one will get built there,” Simon said, according to a transcript. “There will be a competition of which one gets built. ... I think, at the end of the day, it will be a competition on who gets the retailers, and the experience will ultimately dictate that somebody will get the project and somebody won’t, and there’ll be one built.”
Both companies say they plan to break ground on their Charlotte outlets next year, and open them in 2014.
Simon, which also owns Concord Mills, SouthPark, and Gaffney Premium Outlets, is partnering with developer Paragon Outlet Partners on its project.
Simon’s Charlotte Premium Outlets would be 400,000 square feet, with about 100 retailers. Tanger’s Charlotte outlet would be 350,000 square feet, with the option to expand to 400,000, and would have 90 stores.
Neither company has said which retailers it will have in its centers, and it’s likely those details are still being worked out.
Similar situations, with dueling outlet centers proposed, have cropped up in other cities. In part, that’s because outlets are some of the only mall space being built now: There hasn’t been a new enclosed mall completed in the U.S. since 2006.
In Houston, three mall developers – Simon, Tanger, and Taubman – all planned to open outlet centers. But Simon and Tanger agreed to join forces in a 50/50 partnership, and Taubman eventually scrapped its plans. The Simon/Tanger outlets opened in October.
In St. Louis, Simon and Taubman are racing to build outlet centers less than five miles apart. Both are slated to open next year, but it’s still possible one might get scrapped.
Retailers including Hot Topic, Maidenform Inc. and Brown Shoe Co. have signed on to both projects, but they intend to open a store in only the one that succeeds.