April 2011

The New Tanger 1: Naturally Inspired; Fresh and Fabulous

Author: David Tobias

For avid shoppers who have watched reconstruction of the Tanger 1 Outlet Center since a sign announcing its major renovation first went up, the year-long process has seemed longer.

You’re not the only ones who feel that way. Jon Rembold, engineer for the project, says he’s had three kids since all of this began—and he doesn’t even have triplets. To be fair, the “process” actually began prior to 2007 when plans for this renovation were first put to paper.

The bright, new LEED-certified center is celebrating its “Naturally Inspired; Fresh and Fabulous” grand opening March 31-April 3. Now, the freshest, most fabulous next generation of outlet centers takes its rightful place as one of the most significant welcoming spots along the Highway 278 corridor leading to Hilton Head Island.

Tanger 1, originally built as the Lowcountry Factory Outlet Stores in 1987, needed much more than a beauty makeover. Flooding issues and parking lot failures made it clear it was well beyond just slapping on a little paint. The new design and engineered infrastructure—including a world-class storm water system that will allow water to come off the site slower than if it were all treed—is just one of many impressive new improvements that shoppers won’t even see.

But what’s really exciting, in addition to the look of lush landscaping and new adjacent restaurants, is the lineup of stores that have been added, some of which are returning from their brief hiatus at the Mall at Shelter Cove and some that are brand spanking new to the area.

Tanger 1 reopens 94 percent occupied, without drawing down Tanger 2’s occupancy, says LaDonna Shamlou, Tanger general manager. New stores include Kenneth Cole, DKNY Donna Karan New York, Under Armour, Bare Escentuals, Saks Off 5th with Ann Taylor Loft opening in late April. Next door are Olive Garden, Longhorn and Panera Bread, with a fourth restaurant to be announced soon.

From a shopper’s standpoint, the new center is designed to make sure you don’t miss anything, Shamlou said. And from a tenant’s perspective, every store has frontage. The layout is horseshoe-shaped—different from Tanger 2’s more meandering design—and a proven winner in Tanger centers elsewhere.

Shamlou estimates that the new center will support 350 jobs, including management and sales. During construction, close to 100 workers were on the site per day, about 90 percent of them local.

The most common questions have been which stores would be coming and when they would open. With those questions now answered, people are just excited to experience the center with its slightly more upscale brands. “We’re not a huge market of shopping options, and shoppers are looking for newer, upscale brands. I think we’ve accomplished that,” Shamlou said. “Our customer is mostly female, 25-45, and she’s more educated, with a higher family income than the average Tanger portfolio. Tourists are really our big number—about 75 percent of our customers—and they come from where people come from to visit the island: Ohio, Atlanta, Florida, New York, New Jersey.”

According to Shamlou, Tanger is all about great brands, great value and listening to what its shoppers want. “We listened to brands that they wanted and we responded,” she said. “Tanger is here for the community and the visitor, and hopefully we add another way to entice visitors to come to Hilton Head.”

Tanger is also dialed into the latest technology, with a Tanger app downloadable on both Apple and Android platforms, allowing shoppers to receive offers even as they walk down the outlet centers’ sidewalks.

With all this newness, the next most common question from Tanger’s customers is when they will we be knocking down Tanger 2.

The answer, Shamlou says, is not anytime soon.

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