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WOODBURN, OR-Craig Realty Group of Newport Beach, CA has re-launched a 66,500-sf expansion of its 234,000-sf Woodburn Company Stores outlet mall between Portland and Salem in Interstate 5. A grand opening is scheduled for early November.

The $5.1-million expansion, originally 72,000 sf and $7.5 million, was put on hold following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. It shrunk by 5,500 sf due to a decreased demand for space as a result of the economic downturn.

The expansion, being handled by Portland-based S.D. Deacon, will add space for 22 outlet stores and cafes. Site grading and parking for the expansion was completed in 2001, but the pre-lease commitments necessary to gain construction financing have been hard to come by since September of that year as the economy has struggled.

The existing space at Woodburn Company Stores is 98% leased. In a news release, Craig Realty did not say how much of the expansion space has been pre-leased, but did say 12 tenants have been confirmed. At least two of those tenants–Your Northwest and Le Creuset–are relocating from the mall’s existing square footage.

The biggest chunk of the new space will be occupied by three Casual Corner branded stores: Casual Corner Annex, Casual Corner Petite Annex and Casual Corner Woman Annex. Other new tenants will include Puma, Helly Hansen, Zales, Mikasa, Le Gourmet Chef, KB Toys and Wireless Express.

With 3.1 million visitors in 2002, Woodburn Company Stores is Oregon’s second most popular destination, as ranked by the Oregon Tourism Commission. When phase two is complete, Woodburn Company Stores will be the largest outlet center in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to new shop spaces, the expansion also will include a central play area for children and more than 12,000 sf of glass-enclosed courtyard space that will serve as a focal point for on-site community events and musical entertainment.

Steven Craig, managing partner of Craig Realty Group, could not be reached for comment over the weekend. In a new release, he expressed confidence that shoppers will spend money at the new stores. “In spite of the uneven economic recovery, value-oriented retailers are holding up, if not leading, the pack,” said Craig. “Retailers want foot traffic and shoppers want a great mix of brands at discounted prices — and that’s exactly what we offer.”

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