Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Casino plans The Premier Outlet Shoppes at Foxwoods

by By Donna Goodison - BostonHerald.com

Upping the ante as Massachusetts prepares to welcome casino development, Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort Casino marked its 20th anniversary today by unveiling plans for The Premier Outlet Shoppes at Foxwoods, a new $100 million-plus luxury retail outlet center.

Construction of the 320,000-square-foot center — with its 85 luxury outlets and a retractable roof for seasonable outdoor shopping — is set to begin this spring at the Mashantucket casino, which is about 100 miles from Boston.

Expected to open in the summer of 2013, the outlets will be a collaboration between casino operator Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Gordon Group Holdings, a Greenwich, Conn., retail development firm that will lease the land from the tribe and manage the center.

“We have some of the best retailers in the world coming here,” said chairman Sheldon Gordon. “It’s going to be one of the most successful outlet centers in the country because of the huge numbers of people that come to Foxwoods. They will now have the opportunity to buy the best merchandise available at outlet prices.”

Gordon declined to drop any retailers’ names, but said many already are signed. More details are expected to be revealed in six weeks. Gordon Group’s retail projects have included the shops at Foxwoods rival Mohegan Sun, The Forum at Caesars, Bridgemarket in New York City, San Francisco Center and the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.

The new Foxwoods outlets — about half the size of Wrentham Village Premium Outlets in Massachusetts — will connect the MGM Grand Hotel to the Grand Pequot Hotel.

The nearest, sizable retail centers in Connecticut include the 125-plus-store Crystal Mall in Waterford about 15 miles away and the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, which has 70 stores and is about 40 miles away.

“Our 20th anniversary celebration gives us a chance to reflect upon the many significant accomplishments of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods Resort Casino over the past two decades as well as celebrate a new beginning,” Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera said in a statement. “The many initiatives we are announcing today signify our relentless desire to improve and achieve excellence by providing extraordinary experiences to all of those who visit Foxwoods.”

Gambling revenues at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have fallen in recent years, and the outlets will be another way to increase non-gaming revenue.

“Foxwoods is desperately trying to get people to be more loyal to them before Massachusetts starts casinos in two or three years,” said Richard McGowan, a casino expert at Boston College. “It’s a way of building up loyalty and also trying to make themselves much more of a destination casino than they have been. The best defense is a good offense.”

Foxwoods also formally unveiled its new “Anything But Ordinary” branding campaign and improvements to its guest rewards program.

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