Chesterfield Patch talked recently with one of the executives heading the development of Taubman Prestige Outlets to ask him about several issues surrounding the project and its nearby competitor, St. Louis Premium Outlets.
Make sure to check Chesterfield Patch tomorrow for part two of our interview with Taubman Development Director Nicolas Schultz.
Patch Editor Frank Johnson: Some residents in Chesterfield are worried about the prospect of having two outlet malls within five miles of each other. Why do you have confidence that having two such similar developments is not going to be harmful to both of you?
Taubman Development Director Nicolas Schultz: It likely will dilute the market to a degree, however, sites make all the difference in the world, the tenant response makes all the difference in the world and the critical mass makes all the difference in the world. Our sites has all of those. We have the proximity to Chesterfield commons, the half-mile of clear visibility along I-64 and the easy on-and-off access.
We have the critical mass with 310,000 square feet coming out of the ground in our first phase, which gives retailers ... they all want to be together. I read in [trade publication] Value Retail News magazine this morning that our competition is going to deliver 200,000 square feet.
When you combine what just said with tenant reaction and commitment, the visibility, the access and the critical mass we believe that even if there is another outlet built we, long-term, are going to be the one that will be the strongest.
FJ: How many shoppers are you estimating this development will draw?
NS: It's not so much the number of people who come through, it's the productivity of a given center. We expect the center to generate $175-200 million a year in sales. That's the measure in the mall business of how successful you are, it’s the sales per square feet that are the metric. Taubman has the highest productivity in the mall industry. We generate more sales per square feet than anyone else in the business.
FJ: What does it take to be successful in this business?
NS: Number one is the shopper experience. People will visit once, then come back again and spend more money based on the experience they have. So we are taking the traditional outlet model and we are adding things that improve it substantially.
One of the things we have learned is that the more interesting and varied the experience is the more engaged people are. Our buildings are just one straight block. You end up with storefronts that undulate somewhat and a number of pavilions or covered areas.
Another thing is that we are going to give a number of tenants to express their tenant identity by customizing their storefronts. When you walk up to an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you know what that looks like on the outside. When you give tenants the opportunity to express themselves, they get better performance.
FJ: Is there a way this can benefit everyone in the region or is going to come at the cost of some other business, like the Chesterfield Mall?
NS: We have seen in other areas that an outlet center like this is going to be complementary to Chesterfield Mall and it will build synergy with the Commons. It goes back to the evolution of outlet retailing. Retailers make their decision based on what they believe they can generate and sell. If they believe they can sell here and not harm their sales elsewhere, they'll do it. They believe in it, we believe in it and that's how between the two segments, the outlet side and the full-price side, those two can work well together.
- St. Louis Premium Outlets Now Planning Aug. 22 Opening