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An outlet for the Outlet

By Michael Davis

What was once a mass of concrete block and bricks will soon be the site of nearly 50,000 feet of retail space, an expansion project of the 60-store Tanger Outlet Center in Locust Grove.

Under construction since January, mall officials say that some stores, which include Polo Ralph Lauren and Sketchers, could begin opening outlet locations on the site by the end of the August. A formal grand opening is expected in September, said General Manager Jackie Sewell.

The expansion building is under construction in the shopping center's front parking lot, which will gain a few spaces when complete, Sewell said. The strip center will face the front of the existing mall.

Adding 10 new stores, Sewell said, will add to the local tax base and employment roles.

"We feel like we're going to have a positive impact on the Locust Grove economy," she said.

And Sewell is not worried about competition from a proposed regional shopping center to the north at Ga. Highway 20/81.

The proposed South Point shopping complex would be an "open-air" center of about 1.2 million square feet of retail space.

"I really think it will be positive," she said. "I think people will come here and see us as a shopping capital," she said.

Projects like Tanger's put Henry County on the map as a shopping destination, help grow the county's economy, and relieve homeowners of some of the tax burden, said Henry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kay Pippin.

"I can't think of anything better for us to be known for throughout the region than as a great place to come shop," she said. "It's a great place to be, because it's a bit of a town center," she said of Tanger.

The 10-store expansion, which also includes outlets for Strasburg Children, the Children's Place and several others, will bring the number of the outlet mall's tenants up to 70. When complete, the entire development will total about 249,000-square-feet.

Each year, 3 million to 4 million people visit the center to shop, some staying overnight. Overnight visitors to Henry spend an average of $102 per day, said Sarah Robbins, director of the Henry County Chamber's Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Those that stay just the day spend around $59.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., a publicly traded corporation, owns or runs 33 shopping centers in 22 states – all told, more than 8 million square feet of retail space.

Tanger has two outlet center locations in Georgia. The other is in Commerce, north of Atlanta.

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On the net:

Tanger Outlet Centers:

http://www.tangeroutlet.com