By Dustin Ensinger
A Berkshire Township outlet mall is one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Berkshire Township Zoning Commission voted Thursday to approve the final development plan for the proposed Simon-Tanger outlet mall just off of the Interstate 71-U.S. 36-Ohio 37 interchange.
“It has been a collaborative process with Township and County representatives as well as other local officials and community leaders to get us to this point,” said Simon Property Group Director of Development John Vilapiano. “The approval of our final development plan reflects the support we have received from the Township and community, the efforts of all parties involved, and our commitment to bringing a first-class outlet experience to the market.”
Vilapiano said the plan is to break ground on the project in the fall.
“We will continue to work cooperatively with the township, county and state to make an October ground-breaking a reality,” he said.
Berkshire Township Trustee Rod Myers, who was once vehemently opposed to the outlet mall, praised the developers for their willingness to work with the township in designing the project.
“No matter what the zoning board asked, they were willing to comply with it,” he said. “They were just very cooperative.”
The plans call for a 350,000-square-foot outlet mall with more than 90 upscale brand-name and designer-outlet stores.
The construction phase is expected to last about one year, and will create about 300 jobs for skilled workers. Once completed, the outlet mall is expected to employ more than 900 in retail and sales positions.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers of North Carolina has had to clear several hurdles to get to this point. At one time, four different developers were proposing central Ohio outlet malls, including one in New Albany. Representatives from the New Albany project organized a referendum to reverse the zoning decision that paved the way for the project. However, township voters rejected the measure by just 20 votes.
Both companies involved in the joint outlet mall venture should be somewhat familiar to central Ohioans. Simon Property Group is the owner of the Mall at Tuttle Crossing. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers is the owner of the Jeffersonville outlet center.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.