Palm Beach Outlets plans to open in February 2014, a three-month delay brought on by issues with demolition.
“For a variety of reasons we were delayed,” said Tom Carabine, who represents New England Development.”We can’t make the Nov. 15 opening this year.”
The change means the outlet center will miss the holiday season, but will give developers and store owners breathing room to get ready. The 80-acre site will ultimately house about 1.5 million square feet of retail, but the central section with 80- to 100 outlets will be built first.
While the opening may not have needed three extra months, most stores put a blackout on opening during the heat of the holiday season, so the next available window was February, Carabine said. Because tenants need 90 days to complete buildout on their stores, construction crews could not hit the necessary deadlines despite working seven days a week, 12-plus hours a day, Carabine said.
Meanwhile, tenants are signing up for the center, though the developer won’t release any names. Whole Foods has contacted the city about plans on the property, but it would be built separately from the outlet and big-box strip along the interstate, and wouldn’t open until later in 2014.
“We have a tremendous amount of interest,” Carabine said. Stores are wanting more space, so the total number of outlets likely will be closer to 80 than 100, he said.
JCPenney demolition will start after the outlets open next year, and crews set up a 200-foot buffer zone around the store to keep it stable.
Demolition of the 45-year-old mall started in January on the former Sears section, more than six months after the date identified in initial plans submitted to the city. Extra measures were needed to ensure JCPenney would be safe to remain open during demolition of most of the old mall and construction of the outlet center, which took three months past the issuing of the demolition permit.
City officials said the delay doesn’t affect the long-term economic impact of the mall.
New England Development purchased the property at Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and Interstate 95 for $35.5 million with partners Eastern Real Estate and Lubert-Adler. Ultimately it probably will cost $200 million once construction is complete. According to an economic study commissioned by the developers, the mall will generate $319 million yearly in the local economy and support 1,576 jobs.
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