Friday, July 19, 2013
By Christopher Seward - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Posted: 6:44 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2013
Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, a 370,000-square-foot complex off I-575 in Woodstock, opened Thursday, causing traffic gridlock as metro shoppers tried to get to the area’s newest premium outlet mall.
The complex, a joint venture of CBL Associate Properties Inc. and Horizon Group Properties, is now the closest major outlet mall to Atlanta, according to Horizon spokeswoman Gina Slechta.
Slechta said thousands of travelers along I-575 in Cherokee County have witnessed the mall’s construction over the past year and knew about its planned opening. The mall, about 40 minutes northwest of Atlanta, is off I-575 at Ridgewalk Parkway, a new exit that makes it easy to get to the mall.
“The combination of location and store brand names is what’s creating the stir,” Slechta said Thursday. Shoppers were also drawn by special promotions and giveaways by retailers, she said.
Channel 2 Action News’ Chopper 2 reported a traffic jam on I-575 for more than a mile. To accommodate shoppers, the mall had employees park off-site and provided shuttle buses for shoppers. “We had many people on the ground working to direct traffic,” Slechta said.
North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville, Tanger Outlet Center in Locust Grove and Calhoun Premium Outlets in Calhoun are among Outlet Shoppes’ closest competitors.
Developers say the mall is about 97 percent leased, and retailers include Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Brooks Brothers, True Religion, Cole Haan, Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Talbots. It also features a food court.
About 1,500 people are employed by retailers and property management. Slechta said many of the stores are still looking to hire and may add 800 to 1,000 seasonal workers during the Christmas holiday.
The developers say the mall will generate more than $130 million in annual sales and $3 million in property taxes for Woodstock, with an additional $34 million in taxes for the city, Cherokee and its school district over the next 10 years.
The mall will be open through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.