A collection of high-end outlet stores is slated to land just outside the Capital Beltway as part of a National Harbor deal that will give Washington area shoppers, accustomed to traveling long distances for bargains, a much closer alternative as soon as 2013.
Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor will bring about 80 stores to rapidly growing Prince George’s County, where residents have long complained about a dearth of retail options. It will be the latest addition to the still-expanding $4 billion waterfront complex of condominiums, stores, restaurants and hotels lining the Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers has signed a deal with the Peterson Cos. to bring its high-end outlets to the complex. Top company and county officials plan to make a formal announcement Monday at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.
“The addition of Tanger Outlet Centers is a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of National Harbor,” said Milton Peterson, chairman of the Peterson Cos., which opened National Harbor in 2008. “Their relationship with leading national brands and experience in creating first-class retail destinations are a tremendous complement to the existing retail, restaurant and resort offerings at National Harbor.”
No leases have been signed for the proposed $100 million, 350,000-square-foot building, which will sit on about 40 acres just off the Beltway.
But Steven B. Tanger, president and chief executive of Tanger, said his company has relationships with nearly 500 brand-name stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Nike, Cole Haan, Brooks Brothers, Coach and Tommy Hilfiger.
Officials say they hope to break ground on the project by the end of the year. The center would open 12 to 15 months after the start of construction, meaning the outlets could be open sometime in 2013.
In a county where residents have complained about the lack of shopping options, the arrival of the 80-store enclave will be a welcome addition.
“Prince George’s will get the best of two worlds, the brands and the price,” Peterson said.
Washington area shoppers looking for outlet bargains travel to centers in Loudoun, Prince William and Anne Arundel counties, the closest outlets to Washington but in locations that sometimes require day trips. Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor, which will be just hundreds of yards south of the Beltway, will give shoppers a much closer option in Prince George’s.
Prince George’s is the second-largest county in Maryland and, according to the Census Bureau, has more households making more than $75,000 than any other jurisdiction in the state, with the exception of Montgomery County. The county’s median household income is $69,947, just above the state’s median household income of $69,272.
While Prince George’s has seen an increase in its number of upscale houses, upscale retail has yet to follow, leaving residents to travel to Virginia and Annapolis to shop.
“This is a great announcement for the residents of Prince George’s County and the region,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. “Our residents have yearned for diverse shopping opportunities for years.”
Tanger has 34 outlet centers in 22 states. Most Tanger developments are in areas that require shoppers to travel long distances, and Tanger officials said the move to National Harbor will mark the first time its stores have been placed close to a metropolitan center.
“National Harbor not only has high visibility and easy access to major highways, it is also minutes away from three international airports,” Tanger said.
The development will be built off the main waterfront property on Salubria, a historic Oxon Hill plantation where a 14-year-old slave allegedly poisoned her slavemaster’s three children. Two preservationist groups had called for the property to be maintained but in recent days drew up a compromise with the Peterson Cos. They agreed to work to provide “an appropriate interpretation of the historical significance of the property somewhere on the site,” said Andre Gingles, a lawyer for the company.
The new stores will open in one of the wealthiest majority-black jurisdictions in the country, but it is also one where residents say they have been repeatedly snubbed by the business community. Residents have been so underserved they rejoiced 15 years ago over the opening of an Applebee’s. And when Wegmans opened last year, there was essentially a countywide celebration.
Peterson said the new center will help to fill a gaping shopping void, not just in the county but across many parts of the region.
“We’ll draw from Washington because they don’t have it,” he said. “We’ll draw from this part of Virginia because they don’t have it. But more importantly, we will provide this for the south county of Prince George’s County. It becomes a bonanza in shopping habits for Prince George’s County.”
The outlets were one piece of Peterson’s original plan for a “family-friendly” environment at National Harbor. In 2009, Walt Disney Co. bought a 15-acre parcel at the site, where it plans to build a 500-room hotel resort, and the National Children’s Museum is expected to relocate to National Harbor.
Officials say Tanger outlets draw nearly 9 million shoppers each year. The stores bring in from $10 million to $12 million in sales and property taxes annually, but officials expect National Harbor to surpass those figures because of its location and the potential to draw tourists and customers from throughout the region. Taylor Chess, senior vice president of retail at the Peterson Cos., said the center will create 400 temporary construction jobs and 800 full- and part-time positions at the center.
Chess said the Peterson Cos. have been studying the outlet sector for the past 18 months. He said malls are becoming a thing of the past as outlets have the ability to sell some of the same name brands at lower prices. The “new generation” shopper is more discriminating, willing to buy her St. John suit from an outlet instead of Neiman Marcus, he said. Chess said the Peterson Cos. was thrilled to sign with Tanger.
“They started the outlet industry. They have been on the forefront of innovative design of outlet shopping,” Chess said.
Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, a trade group, said outlet sales have continued to increase in recent years.
But the construction of a new outlet center will break a trend in the building industry. Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said there are few shopping centers being built.
“The focus is on redevelopment, not new development,” he said.
Tron said the industry has moved away from the traditional enclosed mall. The last enclosed shopping mall in the United States was built in 2006, he said.
The Peterson Cos. and Tanger will jointly provide site development and construction supervision services to the venture; Tanger will manage, market and provide leasing services.