Simpsonville officials to visit new outlet mall near Atlanta

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City commission OKs icentive plan Horizon Group Properties

By Steve Doyle

Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden and City Administrator David Eaton are headed to Woodstock, Ga., on Sunday to check out the new outlet mall that Horizon Group Properties opened there last month.

Horizon is scheduled to open the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville on the south side of Simpsonville, in about a year, and Eden said they wanted to meet with officials to see what they might learn and expect from that process.

Eden said they would meet with the mayor of Woodstock – a town of about 15,000 about 40 minutes northwest of Atlanta – and the manager of the Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta, the most recent of Horizon’s seven malls (there are three under development).

“We just want to learn from them,” Eden said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Simpsonville City Commission.  “We also want to be there at night and check out the lighting. We get a lot of questions about the lighting around the mall, and we want to see it when it’s dark and see how much glare there is.”

Horizon Senior Vice President Tom Rumptz, who attended that meeting Tuesday, set up the trip for Eden and Eaton.

“We want to see the final product, see all the landscaping,” Eden said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that when Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, a 370,000-square-foot complex off I-575, opened July 18 that there was traffic gridlock – a TV station said it was more than a mile long – as shoppers tried to get to the mall. Buck Creek Road is going through a significant widening project to accommodate the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville.

“We owe it to the citizens to be prepared,” Eaton said.

Horizon officials had said it was targeting the back-to-year time in 2014 for its grand opening.

Rumptz also resented to the city a letter asking for formal approval for the 5-year reduction of 50 percent in payroll taxes as long as the mall employs at least 100 people and generates $5 million in payroll.

The AJC reported that the mall in Atlanta, which was about 97 percent leased at opening, employs about 1,500 – with maybe another 500 to 1,000 to be hired, officials said – and generates $130 million in annual sales.

“If you remember the ordinance we passed a while back, creating this incentive for new businesses – this is the official request of the city,” Eden said.

The commission voted, 4-0 (with Vicky Wise absent) to authorize Eden to sign that agreement.

Rumptz said construction on the mall, which will include nine buildings and 374,300 square feet on 50 acres south of Interstate 64 at the intersection of Buck Creek and Veechdale roads, is coming along well, despite a bit of a delay because of excessive rain.

“Things are going as planned,” he told the commission. “We had a bit of a slowdown with the rain. We have gravel down for four buildings and will start on the utilities, then the slabs will be poured, and then the steel [will go up]

“These things go in phases, and when the pads are down and the steel goes on, people say, ‘These guys are for real.’

“But the crews work from building one to nine. You follow them around until you have all nine buildings. When the steel is up, you’ll see progress.”

The city also has progress to make with the sewer connection from its substation north of I-64, under the highway and connecting to Horizon’s sewers. After delays while the state approved its plans, the city began Wednesday to advertise for bids, and that will continue for 21 days.

“We hope to have them [the bids] opened on the twenty-eighth and have before the commission at the first meeting in September [Sept. 3],” Eaton said.

“After going through the bids, Mr. [David] Derrick {the project engineer] said he hopes to be done this calendar year.”