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EARLIER: Paragon Outlets official: ‘We think we’ll be first’

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But zone-change hearing pushed back to October

By Todd Martin

The Paragon/Trio outlet mall development group was at the center of another local meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

At the Home Builders Association of Louisville’s Shelby County Council meeting, the group confirmed its commitment to opening a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall in Simpsonville on 81 acres just south of Interstate 64 and east of Buck Creek Road.

And the group said they believe their development will be first.

When asked about the real possibility of two outlet malls opening in the area –  the other a planned 364,000-square-foot development from Horizon Group Properties on 50 acres directly west across Buck Creek Road –  Paragon Outlets Development Partner Kelvin Antill was quick to answer.

“We think we’ll be the first one out of the ground, and if they [Horizon Group] make it, then we’ll see,” he told the crowd of about 25. “I’ve seen it happen before [with two outlet malls opening next to each other], but it’s difficult to see at this location.”

A key, Antill told the group, is co-tenancy.

“Our leasing office has been doing this for a number of years, and we have a great relationship with our retailers,” he said. “We opened a four-hundred-and-twenty thousand-square-foot center two weeks ago outside Dallas, Texas, and we’ll open a five-hundred-and-twenty-five thousand-square-foot center outside San Francisco in November. Dallas was one hundred percent leased by opening, and, actually, the California location is already one hundred percent leased.”

Antill said leasing is under way for Simpsonville.

Real estate development lawyer Bill Bardenwerper, with the Louisville firm Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts, said the developers would have an economic impact study ready for their public hearing.

However, that date has been pushed back a month.

As of late as last week, the developers said they hoped to be included for a zone change request to the Triple S Planning Commission at its meeting Sept. 18. Those 81 acres are largely zoned Agricultural, with only about 16 acres already zoned properly for the development.

But a delay with the development of a traffic study caused the hearing before Triple S to be pushed back to the meeting Oct. 16.

In an E-mail, Triple S Planning Executive Director Ryan Libke stated: “The deadline for a zone change was last Monday, August 27, at noon. Their [Paragon/Trio’s] application lacked the traffic impact study, therefore they will not be on the agenda for the September meeting.”

However, the group remains confident.

“Across the street, they [Horizon] have some issues to deal with,” said Antill, referring to the that group’s efforts to get a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill a large portion of a 6.5-acre pond and some wetland areas.

Last week, Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Layna Thrush said the process should be completed in two to three months, but there is no official timeline for that decision.

The Paragon/Trio group also discussed the outlots, which could number as many as nine on the existing property.

“That area is already zoned, and I’ve told folks that why not do something upscale like they [Paragon] are proposing with the outlet mall,” Bardenwerper said. “If this mall is approved, they will be in charge of the design and tenants of the outlots. But if we only develop the outlots on this side [of Buck Creek Road], they probably won’t be as nice.”

Bardenwerper and Antill said that the outlots typically would have restaurants and more retail space.

“And usually a bank will open in one of them because of the amount of transactions and cash coming through the area,” Antill said. “And most will be geared toward the shoppers that are coming from out of the area. Many will be coming from more than thirty or forty-five minutes away.”

If the plan is recommended by Triple S and clears the Simpsonville City Commission in a reasonable time, Antill said the mall could be started early next year.

“We’d like to star construction in the spring or early summer next year at latest,” he said. “Then, typically, it takes about twelve to fourteen months to build, and we like to open a center around a holiday or back to school. I would think that the back to school time [in 2014] would be very realistic.”