Foxwoods Outlet Mall Enters Final Phase Of Construction; May Opening Planned

At Foxwoods, a new outlet mall is set to open in May 2015. But how do you get inside?

Workers have mostly enclosed the giant steel framework of the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods as the project reaches its final phase en route to a scheduled opening May 21, 2015.

Solid mounds of rock, a roadway and wetlands all made for a challenging construction site, particularly one so close to an active resort that stays open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, said Matt Armstrong, executive vice president of Gordon Group Holdings of Greenwich, the company developing the outlet mall.

Executives at Foxwoods Resort Casino reached out to Gordon Group Holdings about five years ago to develop an outlet mall at the casino. Gordon Group brought in Tanger Outlets for branding, and an 18-month construction period will end just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The finished project will be an enclosed quarter-mile corridor with 82 retail shops that customers are only able to enter by walking through one side or the other of Foxwoods Resort Casino. One side is connected to the casino floor by the Fox Tower and the other is near the Grand Pequot Casino.

The list of tenants announced so far includes American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Calvin Klein, Coach, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Fossil, Gap Outlet, H&M, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Loft Outlet, Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store, Skechers, Steve Madden and Tommy Hilfiger.

Stores will range in size from 1,000 to 15,000 square feet. The Nike Factory Store is the largest.

Armstrong led a group of media through the interior of the outlets, which are only a skeleton of steel, concrete and wallboard at this point. The $120 million project has generated more than 400 construction jobs. The outlets will employ more than 600 full- and part-time workers.

The enclosed outlets have four elbow-like turns, each with an oculus — a circular architectural feature in the roof that lets natural light inside.

The mall crosses over Trolley Line Boulevard in two places and also is over some wetlands.

The site was tricky for various reason, largely because of sold rock that had to be blasted daily for about 60 days straight to remove so much rock it would fill 25 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to Gordon Group.

"It required a lot of blasting," Armstrong said. "In fact, it got to a point where, every day at 2 o'clock, we'd have a blast, and people at the resort sort of caught on to that."

People crowded the hotel windows to see explosions of rock shrapnel spouting skyward each day.

"So, it was quite a spectacle to see," Armstrong said.

The project is a competitive play by Foxwoods to broaden its amenities and stay ahead of new and expanding gambling resorts in neighboring states, including Massachusetts, which has approved major casinos for Springfield and Greater Boston.

"All the more reason to build out the amenities of this resort," Armstrong said. "This resort really becomes the 800-pound gorilla. It's something that nobody can replicate. We have it all: golf courses, shopping, dining, entertainment, two large theaters. … Can somebody else build a casino? Yes. But it's going to be very difficult to replicate what we've got here."

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney A. Butler said, "We've continued looking at ways of how to expand the resort and amenities that we offer here at Foxwoods."

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which owns and operates Foxwoods, is looking for a partner to add an indoor water park at some point, Butler said.

"Being a resort destination, being in a competitive market, we have to have offerings that differentiate ourselves," he said. "And, so, whether it was the concepts of indoor water park, large retail developments, other restaurant establishments, those are things that we've been looking at for years."

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