Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Apparently There Is A Market For Outlet Shopping, Just Not In Cheshire

If I was a Cheshire public official, I'd be banging my head against a wall in frustration after hearing Tuesday's news that the owner of  the Clinton Crossing outlet center, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, plans to build a similar retail center in Windsor Locks.

Simon's announced Tuesday that it has submitted an application for rezoning land near near the intersection of Route 20 and Interstate 91on Old Country Road in Windsor Locks.

 Simon's announcement comes nearly a month after another retail developer, Massachusetts-base W/S Development, told Cheshire officials they were abandoning plans for a 470,000 square foot outlet center near the intersection of Route 10 and Interstate 691.

The Windsor Locks retail center, which will be called  Hartford Premium Outlets, will consist of 350,000 square feet of retail space, a Market Hall complete with a variety of dining options, and two restaurants on the property's perimeter. Construction of the retail center is expected to start next fall, with the stores scheduled to open late in 2017.

"We are tremendously excited to bring the world's most recognized and popular brand of upscale outlet shopping to the Hartford area," Mark Silvestri, chief operating officer of Simon Premium Outlets, said in a statement. "We are off to a solid start – the Town of Windsor Locks has been very supportive and welcoming. This will be a great development."

All of which begs the question: What has Windsor Locks got that Cheshire doesn't?

The media never got an answer from W/S Development as to why it was abandoning the Outlets at Cheshire. We were told by Cheshire officials that W.S Development executives cited the state of the economy and a difficulty in attracting tenants to the retail center as a reason for their decision.

But now you have to wonder if W/S Development officials were being totally honest with Cheshire officials in the reasons that they gave.

Is the economy that much better in Windsor Locks than in Cheshire? Probably not.

So why was W/S Development having trouble attracting tenants? Was there something about the company or its approach to the Cheshire project that was driving potential tenants away?

We'll probably never know the answer to those questions and even if we did, it wouldn't change the final outcome. But know the answers might give Cheshire officials a better idea going forward of how to market the 104 acre property that W/S Development wanted to build on.

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