Outlet mall planned in Hanover Co., Va.


Jun. 7--Outlet shopping may be coming to Hanover County.

An Illinois developer of outlet centers wants to build a 375,000-square-foot outlet mall in the Winding Brook development at Lewistown Road and Interstate 95. It would be next to the Bass Pro Shops store that is expected to open this fall.

The center -- more than three-quarters the size of the Prime Outlets Williamsburg -- would have 80 to 90 stores.

"We see that area as ripe for an outlet center," said Gary J. Skoien, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Horizon Group Properties Inc., the nation's fifth-largest outlet center operator and developer.

The proximity of Bass Pro Shops, I-95 and Interstate 64 drew his company to the site, he said. "We are very optimistic about the market."

Plans call for construction to begin next year, with the center to open in 2010.

But the plans hinge on Hanover providing incentives, he said.

Skoien declined to spell out what incentives Horizon is seeking. The company sent a letter in late May to Hanover officials.

"We are very interested in working with Horizon on their proposal and excited about their interest in Hanover County," County Administrator Cecil R. "Rhu" Harris Jr. said. "They have asked for a package of incentives that will take further analysis by the county before we are able to come to agreement on any deal."

Many outlet centers being built these days receive some assistance from localities, Skoien said, because the centers drive so much business from outside of the area. "We become destination centers."

For instance, he said the City Council in Oklahoma City last month approved nearly $8 million in economic incentives to help Horizon build The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City agreed to pay about $2.4 million for road and drainage improvements. The city also agreed to reimburse Horizon for marketing expenses valued at up to $5.5 million over 10 years through a tax rebate.

Hanover created a Community Development Authority for the 185-acre Winding Brook development to help get Bass Pro Shops to locate there. Winding Brook is being developed by Holladay Properties Inc. of Indiana.

The authority issued about $28 million in bonds to pay to install water and sewer lines; to build a four-lane road from the end of Lakeridge Parkway to Lewistown Road; to acquire about 40 acres for a public park; and to construct parking lots for Bass Pro Shops.

A portion of the taxes generated by the project would pay back those bonds over 20 years.

Skoien would not talk about specific tenants for the Hanover outlet mall but said the retailers probably would be similar to those found at some of Horizon's five other outlet centers. The Outlet Shoppes at El Paso, which opened last year in Texas, includes retailers Anne Klein, Brooks Bros., Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Bass shoes.

"We are very optimistic about the initial response from tenants," he said.

Linda Humphers, editor of Value Retail News, a publication that follows the outlet-center industry, said she understands that the leasing interest from retailers for the planned center in Hanover is better than expected.

"Bass Pro Shops is a big draw," she said.

The outlet-center industry, which relied heavily for years on putting centers in tourist spots such as Williamsburg, has built malls in recent years in second-tier markets or in outlying metro areas.

"They are looking to the local population to shop there," she said. Plus, she said, the Hanover outlet center also will capture tourists traveling on I-95.