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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK-The groundbreaking delay of the 341,400-square-foot Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma is due to financing, rather than demand. But according to area retail experts, when the mall is complete it will have a ready and waiting market.

Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City is being developed by Horizon Group Properties Inc. at Interstate 40 and Council Road in the far west submarket. The Norton Shores, MI developer hoped to start construction last summer, but a recent story in The Oklahoman reported that uncertain financial markets pushed the construction launch to spring 2009, with opening scheduled for summer 2010. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc. is providing financial and other assistance to move the project forward.

Once the mall is up and running, real estate veterans say it should do quite well. “This is on the far west side of the Oklahoma City area, and that’s an area that’s not really covered when it comes to retail,” comments Mark M. Inman, senior vice president of retail services with CB Richard Ellis’ Oklahoma City office. Though there are Wal-Mart and Target-anchored power centers within a five-mile radius, “in terms of retail malls, that’s an area of Oklahoma City that really isn’t covered,” Inman remarks.

Nor is it just the far reaches of the metro market that aren’t served by mall-type tenants. Inman notes that the submarket attracts shoppers as far west as the Oklahoma-Texas border. “This is the first retail tenant mix that people driving east on I-40 will hit,” he adds.

Jason Little, Sperry Van Ness senior advisor in the Oklahoma City office says an outlet mall is also attractive because the state doesn’t have one. A Tanger Factory Outlet Mall in the southern Oklahoma City suburb of Stroud served outlet shoppers for years, before being destroyed in an F-5 tornado in 1999. “Since that time, people have had to drive to north Texas if they want to do any outlet shopping,” Little says. “That’s a three-hour drive from Oklahoma City.”

Little tells GlobeSt.com that outlet mall developers typically like to locate their properties on well-trafficked highways, such as interstates, and equidistant between two population centers. Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City fits the requirement, with its interstate location and almost equidistant between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, TX.

“Three miles east of the mall’s location is the confluence of I-40 and I-44, which connects Oklahoma City with Tulsa and Joplin, MO,” Little adds. “The transportation infrastructure is outstanding, and they’ll pull from all submarkets of the metro area.”

Though the location is strong, the economy remains a beast to be reckoned with. Inman says, to his knowledge, leasing velocity on the center has been positive, but with the holidays looming and the economic future uncertain, it’s hard to say how quick the project will be to attract tenants.

However, “there’s a definite hole in this market,” Inman comments. “This would be a mall, sitting in a metro market, and serving an unserved area. It should do quite well.”

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