Altoona`s new 300,000-square-foot outlet mall has signed leases with 24 stores ahead of its October opening, including several retailers not currently in Iowa, The Des Moines Register has learned.
At least 40 more stores are being courted for the Outlets of Des Moines by its owner, New England Development, Vice President Michael Barelli said.
Leading the tenant list are Vera Bradley, francesca’s, Lids, Levi’s Outlet Store, Zales Outlet, Converse, Asics, GNC and Yankee Candle — none of which are at Iowa’s other major outlet center, Tanger Outlets in Williamsburg.
Fifteen additional retailers headed for Outlets of Des Moines, which also have stores at the Williamsburg outlet, include: Lane Bryant Outlet, Loft Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger, maurices, Nike Factory Store, Skechers, Famous Footwear, Under Armour, Carter’s babies and kids, OshKosh B’gosh, VF Outlet, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Fragrance Outlet, Bath and Body Works, and Express Factory Outlet.
`Our next series of retailer announcements will be in six months, as we approach the home stretch toward the grand opening,` Barelli said.
The outlet mall is under construction south of Bass Pro Shops in the developing Shoppes at Prairie Crossing retail project at Interstate Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 65. Opening day is set for Oct. 20. About 70 tenants are expected to fill the center when the project is completed.
New England Development had been keeping the signed and would-be tenants under wraps until closer to the mall’s opening, Barelli said.
However, the Register obtained a tenant update report that had been posted on the Internet and confirmed the information with the outlet owners. New England Development will keep the remaining stores a secret for a few months while deals are made, Barelli said.
The company is signing new tenants weekly and negotiating with others for spots in the outlet mall, he said.
`As far as our focus and strategy for (signing) stores, we begin with our strongest relationships, which are typically those (retailers) we’ve done business with in our other outlets,` Barelli said. `… We also have a team that is continuously working to identify new players that may be a good fit.`
The list of tenants is expected to include a handful of national and local restaurants, mostly fast casual dining options, Barelli said.
The outlet mall will set up in a racetrack style, with stores surrounding a pedestrian concourse. New England Development, which has outlet malls in Asheville, N.C., Palm Beach, Fla., and Little Rock, Ark., also is developing malls in Maryland and Michigan.
Several of the retailers the company is courting for the Altoona center are new to outlet malls and Iowa, he said.
With dining and shopping offerings so close to a metropolitan center, Outlets of Des Moines will be “an everyday shopping option,` serving Altoona, Ankeny, Pleasant Hill and the east side of Des Moines, Barelli said.
Outlet mall development has outpaced construction of traditional indoor malls, said David Hinkle, principal of The Outlet Resource Group, a Chicago-based outlet mall consulting company.
`The outlet malls now are really one of a few brick-and-mortar businesses keeping pace with e-commerce,` he said.