Originally published by: Jonathan Krueger | The Des Moines Register
On Thursday the Altoona Chamber of Commerce got the inside scoop on the Outlets of Des Moines, which will open in October in the city’s northwest area — including plans to promote its Altoona location, despite its Des Moines name.
The shopping center is 300,000 square feet and will house between 65 and 70 retailers. And while the name will remain the Outlets of Des Moines, Michael Barelli, vice president at New England Development, assured the crowd that they would be hearing more about the city of Altoona in upcoming promotion.
“It is a question that we have been asked by the council at meetings. (Rep. Zach Nunn) mentioned the need to educate the retailers about the opportunity and we want them to know that they are getting access to Des Moines by being in Altoona,” said Barelli.
“The name Outlets of Des Moines is focused on the retail community,” he continued. “However when we open we want to be very clear and there will be a transition of how we talk about the project. We will be advertising the fact that we are in Altoona. There will be a transition of sorts of the marketing of the outlets being in Altoona. The name will remain the same because of the regionality of it and putting it on the map.”
Barelli also talked about what brought the outlets to Altoona to begin with.
“We saw these macro trends in the outlet business and we said we needed to be looking for markets where outlets want to be so we focused on locations that have a million people within a reasonable drive,” Barelli said. “The Des Moines area has 995,000 people within 60 miles and that is going up to a million within a year with the kind of growth you have been seeing. The cost of living is 10 percent below the national average and incomes are higher than the national average.”
Des Moines was attractive to New England Development because it is the fastest growing metro area in the Midwest.
The company also has built outlet centers in Palm Beach, Fla.; Asheville, N.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Clarksburg, Md.
“Retailers want to be at convenient shopping options. Think about the Tanger Outlets in Williamsburg, they are 80 miles from Des Moines and 80 miles from the Quad Cities, they are in the middle of nowhere with all due respect,” Barelli said. “Outlets of Des Moines wants to be part of the metro and Altoona is essential for that. There is an increased tenant demand even with the growth of online shopping.”
Barelli also said that Altoona’s status as a popular entertainment destination with Bass Pro Shops, Prairie Meadows and Adventureland already in the community, make the city a great location for the Outlets of Des Moines to call home.
“We are in a place that people are coming to shop and be entertained, to stay the weekend and we will all benefit from that in the community,” Barelli said.
The shopping center will consist of nine buildings in a pedestrian concourse style where shoppers will enter the complex from the outside and shop in a pedestrian, downtown experience.Top of Form
The buildings and the complex are taking shape. In June retailers will start moving in and constructing their stores. Businesses will hold a career fair Sept. 6 with more than 800 positions expected to be open.
The Outlets of Des Moines will have its grand opening on Oct. 20.