It's about creative thinking: Record breaking sales and rave reviews mark opening of Palm Beach County's newest shopping destination
Palm Beach County is one of the nation's wealthiest counties, with a tourist market exceeding 6 million visitors annually, many of whom make shopping a key part of their itinerary. While the 1 million square foot Palm Beach Mall had been very successful when it was opened by De Bartolo in 1967, it had fallen into decline with the openings and expansions at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens and the Mall at Wellington Green, and was no longer able to capture this potential. New England Development saw the site's attributes––a great market, excellent access at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, and clear visibility from Interstate 95. NED also saw opportunity: the closest outlet center was over 55 miles away with sufficient spacing from outlet retailers, wholesale accounts, and full priced store locations.
Realizing the possibilities that this new outlet center promised entailed first purchasing the property from multiple owners, and after partnering with Eastern Real Estate and Lubert-Adler, New England Development acquired and assembled three separate parcels. The 80 acre site then required numerous iterations of site plans and merchandising plans, 1400 permits from the City of West Palm Beach, and negotiations with onsite retailers, including a still-operating JCPenney department store. Critical to all these decisions was the need to assess whether any of the existing structures would be incorporated into the new project. Comprehensive outreach to the outlet retail community was also paramount. And while New England Development was recognized as a powerhouse in the development and management of regional malls, this was NED’s first outlet center and first major development in Florida in many years.
When Palm Beach Outlets opened in February 2014, it was hailed by many as one of the best outlet center openings in the country. Featuring over 100 stores including brand favorites Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, J. Crew / crewcuts Factory, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Kenneth Cole, Talbots, Under Armour Factory Store and White House I Black Market, Palm Beach Outlets attracted over 200,000 shoppers on opening weekend and one million shoppers during its first four weeks. Retailers exceeded sales expectations, commenting "The store is doing great. Well above our expectations.” “We came in at 135% to plan." "We are beating budget (projections) very significantly." "We are killing it!"
The development is expected to have a $319 million economic impact as the premier outlet shopping attraction in Palm Beach County. Over 1,500 jobs are projected. Said West Palm Beach Mayor, Jeri Muoio, at the ribbon cutting: "This mall is a symbol of the economic revitalization underway in West Palm Beach. From the moment the developers decided our city was their best location, it signaled West Palm Beach is once again poised for incredible growth and opportunity. The jobs it will create and the growth it has already sparked will be a huge contributor to our continued success. It is truly a statewide destination like no other, and I am looking forward to welcoming all our new visitors to West Palm Beach."
Palm Beach Outlets is poised to be among the top outlet centers in the country. At the project's six-month mark, more than four million people had visited and shopped. But the new outlet center is only part of the bigger picture: NED’s plans for this site, after demolishing the existing structures, included building the outlet center, as well as Marketplace at the Outlets -an adjacent parcel featuring 300,000 square feet of large format stores, plus restaurants and a select group of retailers located on pads. Marketplace at the Outlets includes such stores as Nordstrom Rack, PetSmart, and Whole Foods and opened in October 2014, further establishing this property as one of Palm Beach County's most visited shopping destinations.