The opening of Tanger Outlets in far north Fort Worth is a year away, but the shopping center was heralded Thursday as an economic engine and a regional shopping destination that will also draw international tourists on their trip to North Texas.
“The Metroplex is a vital engine in our nation’s economy and the Champions Circle development is one of the most exciting in this area, and candidly, as we travel around the country, it’s one of the most exciting we’ve seen,” said Steven Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers.
Tourism is a huge driver in the North Texas and is one of the reasons the Greensboro, N.C.-based Tanger decided to build its 45th shopping center in Fort Worth, he said.
Champions Circle is at the southwest corner of Interstate 35W and Texas 114, across from the Texas Motor Speedway. The outlet center will be just south of Buc-ee’s Travel Center, which opened recently.
The shopping center has been in the works for a few years, but when Tanger (ticker: SKT) had more than 60 percent commitments from retailers, the project was started. On Sept. 30, Tanger closed the deal to buy 44 acres in Champions Circle, a project of Fort Worth-based Fine Line Diversified Development, which is controlled by billionaire financier Ed Bass.
On Thursday, store executives, Fort Worth and Denton County officials, and developer representatives held a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the 350,000-square-foot center that will feature 75 to 80 retailers.
Tanger said he expected the center will be 90 percent to 95 percent occupied when it opens in November 2017. Tanger hasn’t released a full list of signed tenants, but these have been announced: Nike, Levi's, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Express, Skechers, Carter's, Oshkosh, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Children’s Place, Express, Guess and Restoration Hardware.
“We’re fortunate in that there’s a million people in Fort Worth to shop with us,” Tanger said. “Our reach is 30 to 50 miles away.”
Bill Boecker, Fine Line’s president and CEO, said Tanger Outlets will be “our distinguished anchor” in the $400 million, 500-acre Champions Circle development. Fine Line bought the land in 2007. A Marriott hotel and conference center was their first project and now has Churchill at Champions Circle apartments and Buc-ee’s.
West of Buc-ee’s will be a 500,000-square-foot power shopping center that will feature free-standing restaurants along Texas 114, and other big box and specialty retailers, he said. And, another 750 apartments are planned as is 900,000 square feet of office space.
“We have lots of digging ahead of us,” Boecker said.
Bob Jameson, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city draws eight million visitors annually and many of them want to shop. Tourism is a $2 billion industry in the city.
“This is a much-needed addition to Fort Worth’s shopping experience,” Jameson said. “Fort Worth is a destination on the rise. This is a great next step in development here.”
The project will create 400 construction jobs and about 900 full- and part-time jobs when the center opens. It will also create about $100 million in new tax revenue for Fort Worth and Denton County, said Mayor Betsy Price.