Thursday, December 5, 2013

Foxwoods mall will miss Christmas 2014

Construction realities appear to have crushed hopes that the new Tanger outlet mall at the Foxwoods casino would be open in time for next year's Christmas shopping season.

"Tanger expects to grand open Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods in the first half of 2015," said Charles Worsham, vice president of development for Tanger Outlet Centers.

That's a disappointment to Foxwoods, which had hoped to open the doors in time to capture the seasonal rush of shoppers.

While Tanger officials view their first casino-related development as an experiment, Foxwoods officials are more certain that there's synergy in the marriage of destination retail and destination gaming.

Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera has deep Las Vegas ties and is quick to point to the litany of successful retail ventures in and around casino properties in Sin City — the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, the Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian and a pair of outlet malls that bracket each end of the famed Strip.

In his three years of trying to remake the debt-heavy Foxwoods, Butera has been focused on developing as many options as possible for the resorts guests. He's expanded the restaurant choices, renovated the resort's 2,200 rooms and updated the gaming floor at North America's largest casino.

To Butera, adding destination shopping is a natural. He explained the average guest travels 50 to 150 miles to get to Foxwoods and stays one to three days.

Having high-end shopping on site should enhance the experience and could add a day to the stay, he said.

In reaching a land-lease arrangement with a major national player like Tanger, Butera said he's confident Foxwoods has found a win-win proposition.

Tanger is a well-known brand in Connecticut and operates Tanger Outlets at Westbrook, just 35 miles from the Mashantucket Pequot reservation and Foxwoods. Tanger officials declined to directly address the strategy of locating two malls so close together, pointing to a statement by Steven B. Tanger, president and chief executive officer of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc.

"We are excited to begin construction on our first outlet center connected to a casino and look forward to bringing the Tanger Outlets shopping experience to Foxwoods' visitors as well as to many Connecticut residents," said Tanger. "We plan to deliver designer and brand name outlet stores to this exciting tourist destination. Foxwoods is a compelling location for our top retail partners who are looking to expand into new markets and reach new customers."

Worsham also pointed out that "We ended our third quarter this year with a 98.7 percent occupancy rate and our brand is more relevant than ever as we continue to deliver a great outlet experience to our customers and tenants."

Plans call for 300,000 square feet of retail space directly attached to the Foxwoods casino. Tanger officials expect to have about 80 stores on opening day.

"At the ground breaking ceremony in September, we introduced great name brands like Calvin Klein, Coach, Fossil, Gap, LOFT, Michael Kors, Nike, Skechers, Steve Madden and Tommy Hilfiger," Worsham said.

It will be awhile before the structure starts rising, Worsham added.

"The general contractor is Standard Builders and we are in the process of putting the various trades out to bid," he said.

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