Nike, The North Face, Michael Kors. These are just some of the many designer brands that have outlets in Williamsburg. Soon, these brands could call Northampton Boulevard home. In January, Simon Property Group Inc., the country’s largest owner of malls and outlet centers, announced plans to redevelop the Lake Wright Golf Course property and transform it into Simon’s second Premium Outlets mall in Hampton Roads.
As of Feb. 6, Simon had not announced any specific retailers. However, Wesleyan students have their opinions about what should be included.
“Having an outlet mall so close is really exciting!” said freshman Taylor Simon. “I would love to see outdoorsy kind of stores like The North Face or L.L. Bean.”
According to Simon Property Group Inc.’s proposal, the company plans to invest about $75 million into building the 90-store mall. The project would bring 800 permanent jobs and 300 construction jobs to the area.
“I think these outlets will be great for students,” said Director of Tutoring Genai Hill. “I myself am not a big outlet mall shopper, but I think the job opportunities will be wonderful for students who are looking for work close by.”
This project will be the most significant retail development in Norfolk since Macarthur Mall was built in 1999. Construction is slated to begin in August of this year and to be completed in August of 2015.
“We are already in construction mode around here,” said Hill. “We might as well just keep on going for another year!”
However, not all students are excited about having another mall so close to campus.
“I do like the idea, but we have JANAF right around the corner of the school and I think it is counterproductive,” said sophomore Erin Combs. “I mean it all really depends what they put in there. I just feel like everywhere else is already so close.”
Aside from the mall itself, Simon Property Inc. plans on creating up to 65 acres of green space, to include at least two retention ponds, walking trails, a possible amphitheater to host open-air music concerts, picnic areas and boat rentals.
“When I think outlet mall, I tend not to think about green space at all,” said junior Kelly Jacobson. “Setting aside an area for human use is still less beneficial to the environment than letting it be on its own in its natural state, untouched. It could go both ways. From an environmental perspective, nothing good comes from malls. But, it is better than just building a mall and not thinking of the environment at all.”
Regardless of students’ opinions, the outlets are coming. More information about retailers will be printed as it becomes available.