Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sak's Off 5th coming to Merrimack Premium Outlets

(Bruce Preston/Union Leader)
By PAUL FEELY New Hampshire Union Leader 

MERRIMACK — Permits have been issued to 22 businesses to build and “fit up” stores as part of the Merrimack Premium Outlet Mall project, filling out just over a third of the square footage of retail space slated to open to shoppers in June.

Another 15 firms have submitted applications for permits, according to Merrimack Fire Chief Michael Currier, and are awaiting approval from the town’s building and code division.

“When it’s fully occupied, it’s expected to be home to 100 stores,” said Currier, who also serves as head of Merrimack’s building department in addition to his duties as fire chief. “As of today, we have only issued 22 approvals, and we have another 15 in the queue, so to speak.”

The approvals represent a go-ahead for 143,148 square feet of retail space, just over a third of the 430,000 square feet expected to open in June, bringing jobs and added tax revenue to the town.

“We’re very pleased that things are moving on schedule,” said Michele Rothstein, senior vice president of marketing for Premium Outlets, a division of outlet mall’s owner, the Simon Property Group. “We’re very excited because it’s starting to come together.”

“From everything we’ve seen, they are ahead of schedule,” said Currier. “Things are moving along very well. Buildings are up, roofs are on, and now they can start working on fixing up the interiors.”

A look at the permits that have been issued thus far by Currier’s department gives local and regional consumers a chance to plan their summer shopping excursions early.

A Sak’s Fifth Avenue “Off 5th” store will fill 28,000 square feet of the site, and looks to be the largest store at the outlet mall, according to Currier. The next largest retailer approved thus far is a Nike outlet, permitted for 13,000 square feet.

Stores that have been permitted for just over 10,000 square feet of retail include Gap and Hanes outlets, while names like Banana Republic, Reebok, Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Coach and Guess will each occupy retail slots at the site of between 8,000 and 5,000 square feet.

Retail spaces less than 5,000 square feet each are expected to be home to popular retailers Timberland, Carter’s Babies and Kids, OshKosh B’Gosh, Pacific Sun, Bose and Gymboree.

Currier said he could not reveal the name of the 15 other retailers that have applied for permits until they are approved, which he expects will happen sometime in January.

“It’s my understanding that the owners of the mall don’t want to reveal the stores until approval for them is acquired,” said Currier. “They want to have everything lined up.”

“We know we can provide top-quality premium shopping,” said Mark Silvestri, executive vice president of Premium Outlets.

Though Currier said that his department has, up to this point, received build and “fit-up” permit applications from just 37 of the expected 100 retail stores that will occupy the site, he feels the outlet mall is still on track for its opening in June.

“I believe the biggest stores were the ones to file first, because the approval process for them can take longer,” said Currier. “Barring any weather-related setbacks, I don’t anticipate any reason why they won’t be ready to go by the end of May. The weather has really cooperated this fall, and they’ve been very busy at the site.”

The Merrimack Premium Outlet Mall project was approved by the Merrimack Planning Board in September 2008.

Simon Property representatives have stated throughout the project approval process that the outlets, located at Exit 10 off the F.E. Everett Turnpike, just off Industrial Drive in Merrimack, are expected to create more than 800 jobs, and generate roughly $140 million annually in retail sales while offering consumers (on average) daily savings of between 25 and 65 percent off regular retail prices.

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