Urban Fold

Outlet Malls Buck Retail Trends

While traditional enclosed malls, big box stores, and strip malls are struggling in an uncertain retail marketplace, sales at America's outlet malls are growing at a healthy pace. One mall near New York City is showing the pains of popularity.

At Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, "an outdoor maze of shops an hour’s drive north of New York City," traffic snarls and filled parking lots are de rigueur. And to accommodate the hordes of shoppers, some who apparently fly into JFK with the sole purpose of shopping at the mall, owner Simon Property Group is undertaking a massive renovation, reports Julie Satow.

"The $170 million renovation, which is to begin next month and is expected to be finished in 2016, will expand the center by 60,000 square feet for a total of 900,000 square feet."

Rather than pursue the type of mixed-use redevelopment infusing other malls with new energy, Simon is focusing on easing auto access. "There will be room for about 20 additional stores, new parking to accommodate nearly 20 percent more cars and a welcome center," explains Satow. "The company is also redesigning the roads to allow traffic to pass more easily."

“The problem up there is that on the weekends, you can sit in your car for three to four hours just to get inside,” said Marc Frankel, a senior managing director at the broker Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Retail. “It is just not designed for those kinds of crowds. You really wouldn’t want to live near that place.”

Full Story: A Magnet for Shoppers Is Getting a Makeover

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