Monday, February 20, 2012

Tanger outlet mall set for Westgate site in Glendale

by Lesley Wright - Feb. 16, 2012 05:56 PM The Republic |

Glendale's beleaguered Westgate City Center should get a shot of consumer energy later this year, when Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. opens a new outlet mall on the site.

The project, called Tanger Outlet Center Westgate, will feature about 85 brand-name stores in an open-air mall on 38 acres at Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue.

"This shows that Westgate is not dead," said Glendale Councilwoman Joyce Clark. "This is a sign that things are turning around for Glendale and for Arizona."

The 328,000-square-foot mall is designed in a modern style to merge with Westgate, which has large, colorful billboards scattered around an outdoor plaza with a fountain that "dances" to music.

Designs show that the outlet center also is oriented toward pedestrians, with courtyards -- some covered -- and a parklike atmosphere. Like Westgate, the buildings vary in height and the setting will have a few towers.

The project has been in the works for months, with Glendale's design-review team pushing it through the system in two days. But Tanger made the official announcement only Thursday. The company had a one-sentence statement about the project in its earnings statement released Wednesday.

Steven B. Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger, a North Carolina-based company, said the project should do well in the "dynamic" Phoenix market.

Company executives and city officials plan to break ground within a couple of weeks.

Outlet malls, which generally send name-brand products for discounts of up to 75 percent, have boomed amid the economic slump.

Tanger also has signed a sublease to build an outlet at Loop 101 and Indian Bend Road, near the
Talking Stick Resort and two other companies are considering outlet malls for the Valley.

A Tanger outlet in Barstow, Calif., features popular brands such as Banana Republic, Coach, Gap, Michael Kors, Reebok and Tommy Hilfiger.

Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs said the upscale Tanger malls "are a favorite among all shoppers because of the variety of brand-name products they offer for the entire family."

Tanger did not release a cost for the project Thursday, but Glendale officials said the city is not putting any money into the project or providing any incentives beyond the expedited review of the design.

Construction alone should create 700 to 800 jobs, with about 900 full- and part-time retail positions available once the mall opens in time for holiday shopping later this year.

"Tanger's new location in Glendale means new jobs, new brand-name shopping opportunities for residents and tourists and an increase in tax revenue for the city," said Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley.

The city and Westgate can use all the help they can get. Westgate businesses have been complaining for months about low foot traffic.

"The shopping component will bring a lot of people to the area," said Glendale Planning Director Jon Froke. "We think it's great for Westgate."

The Westgate shopping and entertainment center opened with a bang in 2006, three years after Glendale built an arena for the Coyotes ice-hockey team. Since then, the dour economy and dealings to keep the hockey team from leaving the city have been a drag on the area.

In 2011, Tanger announced plans to build a major West Valley shopping center. The company pulled back from plans to build the outlet near Loop 101 and Camelback Road when potential tenants lacked interest. Tanger then opened talks with the Ellman Cos. in May.

The Ellman Cos. went on to lose the bulk of Westgate to lenders in a foreclosure in September, and a new management team has been trying to reinvigorate the area.

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