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LIMERICK, PA-For the first time ever, Chelsea Property Group has begun construction of an expansion prior to the opening of one of its outlet centers. As the 425,000-sf Philadelphia Premium Outlets opens here today, a 120,000-sf expansion has already broken ground.

Chelsea, which is headquartered in Roseland, NJ, is Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group’s division for upscale outlet shopping centers, and this is Chelsea’s 45th such center. A Simon spokesman tells GlobeSt.com the total cost is $147 million, with $119 million for the initial phase and an additional $28 million for the expansion. Scheduled to open in spring 2008, phase two will add approximately 30 more stores to the 120 retailers already in place.

The first phase opens 97% leased. Among the tenants are Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, DKNY Jeans, Elie Tahari, Gap Outlet, Guess, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nike, Puma, Sony, Tommy Hilfiger and Waterford Wedgwood.

Regarding lease-up of the second phase, the spokesman says, “we have nothing to announce, but obviously we don’t commit to construction without strong leasing interest.” Continuing with the expansion, he adds, “is a testament to how strong the concept is.” He declines to disclose rental rates.

The center is located on 78 acres at Lightcap Rd. off Rte. 422. The configuration is patterned after the company’s typical “racetrack design,” which he says, “is convenient and easy for the shopper. It’s a very efficient layout, and, here, we’ve segregated areas with different plazas, which makes it particularly efficient and comfortable to shop.”

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