Foxwoods mall construction is on schedule

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Mashantucket — Anchored by two casino towers, the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods represent a new twist on the synergy between gaming and shopping.

For Foxwoods Resort Casino, they may spell salvation.

"It's a game-changer," Chris O'Connell, Foxwoods' vice president of resort development, said Thursday during a hard-hat tour of the mall construction site. "We figure it'll bring in 3 to 4 million more people a year."

The hope is that they'll come to shop, and stay to gamble. The reverse would be fine, too.

The experiment is scheduled to begin May 21, 2015, the date of the $120 million project's grand opening.

It'll be the first instance in which an outlet mall has been connected to a casino, according to Matt Armstrong, president of Gordon Group Holdings, the Greenwich developer that's partnered on the project with Tanger Factory Outlet Centers of Greensboro, N.C.

Tanger will own and operate the mall on land it's leasing from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Foxwoods' owner.

How will the Foxwoods mall differ from other malls?

For one thing, Foxwoods patrons who earn Rewards Card points at the casino will be able to redeem them at the stores in the outlet mall. O'Connell said Foxwoods is negotiating agreements with each of the stores.

"Other sites won't have the Rewards connection, they're not enclosed and they're not part of a resort that has everything - golf, shows, shopping, gaming," Armstrong said.

The project comes with Foxwoods facing the prospect of new competition from casinos proposed in Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, voters Tuesday defeated an effort to repeal a 2011 law authorizing three casinos and a slots parlor. A Bay State casino or two could be open for business as soon as 2017.

"All the more reason to pursue this now," Armstrong said of the mall. "We'll be the 800-pound gorilla that nobody else can replicate."

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, said the project will set Foxwoods apart.

"In Massachusetts, the new casinos are going to be spectacular but they're not going to have everything we have," Butler said. "They're not going to have the shopping."

Butler said the tribe continues to evaluate plans to develop a water park, a project it would pursue with a partner. For now, though, Foxwoods is primarily focused on the mall.

"Normally, a mall has anchor stores," Armstrong said. "Two casinos are our anchors."

At one end, Foxwoods Resort Casino's Grand Pequot Tower rises up. At the other end stands The Fox Tower. In between stretches a quarter-mile-long concourse that will house 90 percent of the mall's more than 80 stores.

The mall will only be accessible from inside Foxwoods - from the Grand Pequot Casino and from space formerly occupied by the Craftsteak restaurant in The Fox Tower. An escalator will take patrons from the Grand Pequot entrance down to the main course, which drops down another level to The Fox Tower.

Armstrong said the developers preserved wetlands on the site and processed and reused the considerable amount of rock that had to be blasted loose. The mall's design features four oculi - circular areas in the ceiling - that allow natural light to come through.

"We wanted it to have the look and feel of a streetscape although it's all enclosed," Armstrong said.

The stores will average 2,500 to 3,000 square feet with a Nike outlet occupying the largest space, 15,000 square feet.

Among the other confirmed tenants are 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, Skechers, Steve Madden and Tommy Hilfiger.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Twitter: @bjhallenbeck

 

Just the facts

Highlights of the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods construction, which began in September 2013:

62,395 pounds of bolts, 8,020,371 pounds of steel used

65,000 cubic yards of rock removed, enough to fill 25 Olympic-size swimming pools

10,000 yards of concrete to be poured, enough to build a sidewalk from Foxwoods to Hartford

Largest crane at site capable of lifting 330 tons, roughly the weight of 200 cars

Source: Foxwoods Resort Casino

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