Westerville News & Public Opinion

Second player enters outlet-mall game

Developer plans mall, recreation facilities at I-71 exit in Delaware County, following last month's similar revelation


If outlet-mall construction were a horse race -- and it seems it's become one -- then Tanger Outlet Centers just took the early lead over the Craig Realty Group in Delaware County.

On Nov. 29, Tanger announced plans for a 350,000-square-foot outlet mall off the Sunbury-Delaware exit of Interstate 71.

Now Craig Realty Group has announced its own plans for a 350,000-square-foot outlet mall near the same interchange.

That announcement came Thursday, Dec. 20.

"We met with the Tanger people (Dec. 20)," said county Economic Development Director Gus Comstock, giving Tanger the early edge. "They had their team of lawyers in place; they had their plans; they were already moving forward with a traffic study to turn over to the Ohio Department of Transportation."

Comstock said Tanger's preparedness is indicative of a change in the way developers do business with counties and municipalities.

"It used to be that the developer would have 10 percent of a project in place and come to us for help on the remaining 90 percent," he said. "Now they come to us with 90 percent of a project ready to go and ask for our guidance during the final 10 percent."

Tanger did not announce precisely where it intends to build its outlet mall.

The Craig Realty Group, on the other hand, said it would be a part of the NorthGate Centre Development, a 1,000-acre mixed-commercial development straddling I-71, just south of routes 36/37.

Representatives of Craig said they have been working closely and for two years with Columbus developer Pat Shivley on the project.

Significantly, the NorthGate Centre as imagined by the developer will include not only the outlet mall but also a "recreation element, consisting of 20 full-size soccer/lacrosse fields, eight to 12 baseball/softball fields, a 60,000-square-foot indoor-court sports facility as well as a natatorium."

The facilities, according to Craig, "will provide the ability to attract tournaments, league play and events year round, creating a national, regional and local destination."

NorthGate also foresees the addition of six to eight hotels -- each with 600 to 1,000 rooms -- "within walking distance to the outlet and other destination retailers as well as the playing fields and recreation facilities."

Craig said the development would create 2,500 to 5,000 temporary jobs, 5,000 to 7,500 permanent jobs and an initial sales-tax revenue in excess of $58 million.

Oh, and that lead that Tanger took by being the first to meet with Comstock's economic development team?

Craig said Shivley has "been working for the past five years with state, ODOT, county and local officials on the infrastructure and interchange needs in this area."

"Through two interchange modification studies -- and now a public-private partnership -- NorthGate Centre Development anticipates an approval (or) answer on the building of the needed infrastructure (and) interchange improvements to accommodate this area and growth," Craig said.