Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tanger still considering Westgate City outlet center

by Rebekah L. Sanders - Dec. 14, 2011 06:07 AM The Arizona Republic

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. appears to still be considering plans to build at Westgate City Center, a project that would energize the struggling area with new customers, according to city and outside sources.

Glendale officials declined to comment. A message left with Tanger CEO Steven Tanger was not returned.

Charlie Dunlap, who is asset manager for the investors who own a portion of Westgate, said decisions on big changes to the parcel and its management are expected to be made by the end of the year.

"Right now everything is kind of in limbo. We're in some negotiations that will determine what the direction is in the development," Dunlap said. "I really can't comment on those because I'm not part of them ... But I think all the changes planned are going to be great."

When asked whether Tanger was moving forward with the project, including working on a site application to Glendale, Dunlap said he isn't directly involved because "those (negotiations ) are between the lender and Tanger."

The North Carolina-based outlet developer announced plans for a major shopping center in the West Valley earlier this year.

Initial talks were to locate the outlet mall at the undeveloped Algodon Center near Loop 101 and Camelback Road in Phoenix but the company pulled out last spring, citing lack of interest from tenants. In May, former Westgate developer the Ellman Cos. announced it had opened talks with Tanger to relocate just a few miles north.

Little was heard about the project through the summer and fall, as the Ellman Cos. lost most of Westgate to foreclosure.

Two major lenders took over different parts of the property and have been working to pump up business.

The investment firm iStar Financial now owns the developed portion of Westgate that boasts shops, restaurants and a movie theater. The undeveloped portion, where the Tanger outlet may go, is controlled by CCD Equity Partners LLC, an investor group previously represented by Credit Suisse.

The Tanger outlet would have "natural synergy" with the Westgate shopping and entertainment core that surrounds Arena, said Jeff Teetsel, asset manager for iStar Financial.

Teetsel said he's generally aware of the talks, but is not directly involved. "It's potentially very complementary with Westgate and could further enhance the visitors and traffic flow to this intersection," he said. "We're watching it as a supportive neighbor."

Dunlap, of real-estate firm RRA Cos., the asset manager for CCD Equity Partners, said he has high hopes for Westgate's future.

"It's going to be a major draw," he said. "It's a shame because what happened there, it was a perfect storm. You had the economy go to pot. You had the confusion of whether the Coyotes are going to stay or not. ... The previous owner just didn't have enough income to do the things to turn it around because the economy went south on him and the opportunities withered up. Now that we've got lenders in place who are committed to success, I think it's going to be a tremendous asset to the entire community."

He said CCD Equity Partners has the resources to make Westgate successful.

The Republic obtained a draft site plan for a Tanger outlet development dated Nov. 15, which closely match project details announced by the Ellman Cos. last spring. It's unclear whether other, different drafts exist.

A site plan is a map of what the developer intends to build and is submitted through a site application to the city, one of the first steps to gaining construction approval. The draft map has not been filed with the city, and could go through changes before Tanger submits it.

The draft places the outlet mall at the southeast corner of Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue.

The draft shows the outlet center could wrap around the few buildings that currently exist alongside dirt lots on 95th Avenue, like My Big Fat Greek Restaurant and Bananas Ranas, and stop before the Hampton Inn & Suites.

The draft drawing, prepared by the frequent Tanger architecture firm Adams and Associates, notes construction could occur in two phases, with the majority of the project completed in the first phase.

No timing was given on the draft.

The project would bring relief to a corner of Westgate that can be overlooked by visitors.

"We couldn't be more excited and happy about it," said Ashley Young, manager at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, who said she heard about the outlet center some time ago but hadn't heard any updates.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc.

The closest Tanger outlet to Arizona, in Barstow, Calif., features brands such as Banana Republic, Coach, Gap, Michael Kors, Reebok and Tommy Hilfiger.

Another one is planned in Scottsdale at Loop 101 and Indian Bend Road near the Talking Stick Resort.

Two other new outlet malls are proposed in the Valley.

Macerich Inc., parent of Phoenix-area mall developer Westcor, has teamed with Florida's AWE Talisman Co. to build the Fashion Outlets of Scottsdale, a 350,000-square-foot project at Scottsdale Road and Loop 101.

Simon Property Group's Premium Outlets division plans to build a 360,000-square-foot mall, called the Phoenix Premium Outlets, adjacent the Wild House Pass Hotel & Casino near Interstate 10 and Loop 202.

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