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Can Multi-Level Centers Work For Outlet Malls?

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Posted on July 17, 2014 in Blog By Was Group

Are two-story and multi-level layouts starting to come into vogue for outlet malls?
The typical outlet mall layout is a one level, outdoor or open-air center with few amenities. The design is distinct from other shopping malls. Lately we are seeing developments go in new directions and borrow from traditional mall layouts. The trend begs the question – can multi-level centers work for outlet malls?

There has been a two-story outlet mall thriving in New Jersey for well over a decade. The Outlet Collection Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth has a mix of over 200 top name retailer and manufacturer outlets, discount and off-price stores, restaurants and entertainment. The center recently got a $30 million facelift to bring even more of a luxury shopping experience to customers.

The Fashion Outlets of Chicago, a 530,000 square foot two-level enclosed mall, opened in August of last year. The center is not only unique in its design, but its location. Typically outlet malls are 40 or 50 miles from the city, while the Fashion Outlets of Chicago are only about 20 miles from Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The center’s developers wanted to make the mall part of the fabric of the community. The mall also offers full-service restaurants and a concierge service, mimicking the luxury experience of a traditional high-end shopping mall.

It’s hard to say if multi-level centers will become the new norm for outlet malls in the future. The success of the Fashion Outlets of Chicago will no doubt have an influence on whether developers consider this model. If we continue to see outlet malls nearer to the city there will have to be a shift in design. As outlet malls move closer to major cities they will need to grow up, not out.

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