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.
Check out the first part of Chesterfield Patch's interview with Taubman Development Director Nicolas Schultz here.
Patch Editor Frank Johnson: The outlet mall business is more booming these days than traditional malls, why do you think that is the case?
Taubman Development Director Nicolas Schultz: Outlet malls have gone through an evolution. They started out as warehouses or the backdoor to the alley were retailers would offload extra merchandise. Over the years, they have realized there is a market for those discounts. They started going to specific storefronts that were their place to sell their merchandise, like Gap Outlet.
Over time, they realized this was another distribution channel to capitalize on, so they started coming up with the outlet model. They originally thought these outlets needed to be way out in the middle of nowhere. Over time, retailers started to get more specific with what they offer at the outlets and started to make sure it’s branded differently than what they offer in traditional stores.
At the point that they started to clarify that difference, they felt more comfortable with bringing them [closer], so more opportunities and sites began to present themselves.
FJ: How are you going to address concerns about increased traffic?
NS: There's going to be a lengthening of the exit lane coming off I-64 and it's going to be little bit wider. There's going to be additional lanes put in at the turn. North Outer 40 will be widened from the exit along here by the Outlet Mall and there will be four points of entry.
FJ: Have you received enough commitments from retailers to fill all 80 stores when you open your first phase?
NS: I wish I could tell you more, but because of the nature of what's going on, we can't get into details. I will say that the International Council of Shopping Centers just had their fall conference and [the Taubman] leasing group is saying the momentum is building even more. We have a very positive feeling.
FJ: What will be the anchor store for this development?
NS: Anchor stores are different in the outlet world than in the regional mall sense. You have Macy's, Sears, those big boxes are the things you think of when you think of anchor stores. Outlets are a little bit different in that they don't rely on those kind of traditional department store-named stores.
The fashion brands that you expect and you want to see are the ones that you think of as the anchors. The top five you would rattle off are Polo, Coach, Gap, Banana Republic and J. Crew. Those are more important than the traditional store names.
FJ: How are you handling environmental issues, such as insuring the drainage from the property is being handled appropriately?
NS: It has to go somewhere and it has to go somewhere very particular because it is being built near a levee. Our competitor site has the same issue. Ours is done and everything is approved [by the Metropolitan Sewer District].
FJ: Did you receive anything in terms of public financing for this project?
NS: We do have a TDD [transportation development district] for just this area. It's just like the entire Chesterfield Valley TDD and Chesterfield Commons TDD, it's generating income for public transportation improvements.