Nearly four months after an enormous grand-opening weekend, area officials say the Tanger Factory Outlet Center has been more productive and contributed to fewer problems than expected.

Nearly four months after an enormous grand-opening weekend, area officials say the Tanger Factory Outlet Center has been more productive and contributed to fewer problems than expected.

The mall officially opened June 24 in Berkshire Township, drawing crowds and backing up nearby roads for miles. The 56-acre center represented a $110 million investment from North Carolina-based Tanger and developer Simon Property Group.

But with the major new economic engine for Delaware County came a variety of concerns. Residents complained of traffic impact and police and fire leaders warned of the dangers of large crowds and excessive traffic.

Months later, however, those concerns have all but vanished.

"Typically, when something causes trouble in the township, I get calls," Berkshire Township Trustee Rod Myers said with a laugh. "I have not yet gotten one call over traffic or any problems that the outlet mall has caused. So I'm happy there. I anticipated getting a lot of calls."

For Myers and many in the township, traffic on the interchange at U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 was a prime concern. The interchange was not built for the development that has occurred around it in recent years, let alone the malls.

On the mall's first weekend alone, the interchange became a parking lot when impatient visitors started leaving their cars on the sides of the road, prompting a long afternoon for Delaware County Sheriff's deputies.

But Myers said he hasn't seen such problems since the first weekend.

"Obviously, Tanger knew that coming off the freeway and making a right and then another right to get into the outlet mall certainly is the most efficient," he said. "That interchange has had problems before the outlet mall came and now that the outlet mall is here, it really hasn't caused that much additional traffic, except on the weekends."

Myers isn't the only one pleasantly surprised by the mall's performance.

Bob Lamb, Delaware County's economic development director, knew Tanger would represent a major windfall for the area. But four months in, he's already surprised by the returns.

"We've seen great activity out there," he said. "We've been very happy with the opening and amount of people attracted to the area. We know that it's one of the best openings that Simon and Tanger have had for a project, so that's very exciting.

"We know we're drawing from a large region, so we're providing an amenity people wanted in the area."

Lamb said the county is waiting on specific dollar figures and guest counts -- those should be coming by November -- but he said very early returns indicate the county will recoup its infrastructure investment within the three- to four-year timetable leaders aimed for before the mall launched.

He said that success could be an important step toward other developments following in Tanger's footsteps.

"We're pleasantly surprised with how much activity is being generated out there," Lamb said. "I think that's also helped push other landowners in area to want to position their properties for new development purposes."

Despite the sheer number of new people in the area, sheriff's office spokeswoman Tracey Whited said law-enforcement officers haven't seen too much trouble.

Through September, Whited said, the department had seen only around 45 incidents from the area, mostly consisting of thefts from vehicles and small incidents at stores. She said the number was "about what we thought" deputies would have to deal with.

Given the mall's success, Lamb is bullish on the rapidly growing county's future and inevitable growth.

"We believe we will continue to attract new investment opportunities and see more growth," he said. "We're on line for 300,000 (residents) as early as 2040. We know growth is coming to the county and we want to be sure we're growing in a smart way to benefit schools, local jurisdictions as well as residents in the community."

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