The Mall is Coming to Town: Small-town Mebane Gets Big-town Industry with Arrival of Tanger Outlet

Mebane is bracing for a boost—a big boost. Already, millions of dollars have changed hands between city leaders and outside developers, and millions more will be pouring in. The big boost is called the Tanger Outlet, and it’s a familiar name to millions of Americans who shop at one of the 33 Tanger Outlets across the country.

When the company’s CEO, Stephen Tanger made the decision to set up shop in Mebane, he did so for several reasons:

·Prime location:An outlet store cannot be in the middle of nowhere, and although Mebane may seem like the middle of nowhere to some, it has several advantages. For one, it is right on the I-40/85 corridor. The 52-acre plot, selected by Tanger, has enough interstate frontage to make it a must-stop for leisurely travelers and deal-loving shoppers. In addition, Mebane provides a great halfway point for shoppers from Greensboro and Winston-Salem to the west and Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill from the east. Although Mebane is still a 45-minute to an hour drive away, people are usually willing to drive a bit farther to shop a lot cheaper.

·Low cost:Another reason that motivated the decision was the relatively low cost of land in the area. Buying 52 acres comes at a price, but an $8.5 million parcel of real estate, is a low price to pay for a retail establishment that will bring in many times that amount in its first year of operation. For a town like Mebane, $8.5 million is a lot of cash. As Mayor Stephenson said, it’s the largest real estate transaction the city has ever seen.

The Lowdown

·Opening date is projected to be late 2010, hopefully in time for the holiday shopping season.

·Construction will begin in December. At this point, 75% of the planned store space is either leased or under contract. This gives Tanger a safe threshold that allows groundbreaking to take place.

·Cost of construction is at least $60 million. Add to that the $8.5 million for land, and the $25 million for permits and licensing, plus the miscellaneous millions that always trickle in, and you’re looking at a $100 million dollar business rolling down Mebane’s main street.

·The mall will have at least 80 stores, including well-known retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic, Coach, Gap, J. Crew, Michael Kors, BCBG/Girls, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger. Yeah!! I am excited about this, and so is my 12-year old daughter!

·The combined size of the stores will be over 317,000 square feet.

The Future

Now, the big question is, what does this mean for Mebane’s future, specifically on the real estate side of things? For one, it probably means considerable growth. Owners and staffers of the mall will not want to commute from Raleigh or Greensboro, so new home construction may creep into the area. Plus, a mall does not stand alone. Along with malls come gas stations, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers, clubs, theaters, and much more. With an influx of those establishments, Mebane is going to get bigger. As it does, real estate costs could rise. Beyond that, who knows what’s going to happen? Perhaps Mebane will become the next major I-40/85 metropolis.