Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Construction of $80M Woodstock outlet mall moves forward

October 15, 2012

By: Marcus Howard
Cherokee Tribune

WOODSTOCK — Construction on an outlet mall in Woodstock that is expected to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the local economy is moving along steadily, according to the city.

The first phase of the $80 million Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta is scheduled to open next August on 58.6 acres at the southwest quadrant of Interstate 575 and Woodstock Parkway. It will be the first retail development in the Ridgewalk area.

Billy Peppers, Woodstock’s director of economic services, said he was notified this week that 151,000 square feet, or 41 percent, of the 370,000-square-foot outlet is now under roof with wall framing. In addition, tenants’ plans are currently being reviewed for approval, he said.

Construction work on the much anticipated project began last May.

The developer, Michigan-based Horizon Group Properties, anticipates the outlet will bring more than 4 million visitors annually from nearby states.

The company projects the outlet to generate more than $130 million in annual sales. About $3 million of sales and development, and operation of the outlet are expected to generate $34 million in taxes for the city of Woodstock, Cherokee County and county school district over a 10-year period.

Peppers said the outlet will be a huge boost for the local economy.

“That comes in the form of property taxes and sales taxes, job growth and spin-off development,” he said.

Already, the city has received phone calls from a wide range of businesses and institutions, inquiring about zoning near the outlet.

“You get everything from restaurants and spin-off retail,” he said. “In that area, we’ve had discussions with churches, some light industrial and residential. It’s just across the board.”

Once completed, the outlet is expected to provide as many as 1,200 permanent and 1,600 seasonal jobs.

Some of the stores slated for the outlet include Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Brooks Brothers, White House | Black Market, Guess, Michael Kors, Under Armour, Puma, Converse, Cole Haan, Vans, Le Creuset, Levis, Naartjie Kids, Talbots and Carters.

Additional retailers will be announced in the near future, according to Horizon. In all, the project is slated to have about 90 tenants.

The outlet is a joint venture of Horizon and Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties. Horizon is responsible for leasing and managing the center.

The co-developers intend for the design of the outlet to be shopper-friendly, with an open-air racetrack configuration, along with covered walkways and landscaped courtyards. It will include a children’s play area, fountains and a fireplace, along with eight outparcels for restaurants and other uses, plus additional space to accommodate 30,000-square-feet of outlet shops.

The project calls for shifting Woodstock Parkway to the eastern edge of the property and realigning it with the current road accessing the Meridian at Ridgewalk neighborhood. The present Woodstock Parkway at Ridgewalk Parkway intersection would be used as the main entrance into the outlet. A roundabout at the Woodstock Parkway and Rope Mill Road intersection is designed as a secondary entrance.

Work on the new Interstate 575 interchange construction project is 95 percent complete and should be finished by the end of the year, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The diamond-shaped interchange project involves replacing the existing Rope Mill Road bridge over I-575, realigning Rope Mill Road to intersect with Ridgewalk Parkway, accommodating new ramps and building auxiliary lanes between the new interchange and Towne Lake Parkway.

Peppers said the city will be definitely prepared for the potential onslaught of traffic.

“The city and county are both putting funds individually into Ridgewalk Parkway” to help with traffic coming off of the interstate, he said.

“Right now the traffic that gets off at Towne Lake Parkway, a large number of that is attributed to people that live in the east Cherokee area that have to come through downtown Woodstock or take Woodstock Parkway to bypass downtown. So when this new interchange opens it will be a more direct route for those people trying to get to east Cherokee,” Peppers said.

A somewhat sensitive subject arose when it was announced that the outlet’s official name would include Atlanta instead of its home city. Some locals didn’t take too kindly to that, Peppers acknowledged.

But he said the city had no control over the matter and that in the long run, Woodstock will come out ahead because people tend to reference the city where outlets are located rather than their formal names.

“You can’t hold that against them, that’s what they want to name the project,” he said of the developers.

“We don’t name churches or other shopping centers. I don’t know if it has as much of an impact on us as I think some people would like to make it seem like it does.”

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