About 120,000 shoppers are predicted to visit the Outlets of Little Rock this weekend. The highly anticipated shopping center is set to open Friday alongside Bass Pro Shops near the interchange of interstates 30 and 430.
For months there has been a buzz as participating retailers have been announced. But it has taken decades for it to become a reality.
Developers began assembling tracts of land in the early 1950s, but issues would repeatedly arrise. At one point there were firm plans to build what was called Otter Creek Mall in the 1980s, but a host of legal problems and financial issues kept a scheduled groundbreaking from ever taking place. The 2012 announcement that Bass Pro Shops would be opening on an adjacent property was what finally breathed new life into plans to put a shopping center there.
Lance Turner with Arkansas Business reports Michael Barelli, vice-president of New England Development, expects the shopping centre will rake in $100 million in annual retail sales. Developer Tommy Hodges says it will generate nearly $2.3 million per year for the city of Little Rock in taxes, and about $1.5 million in county tax dollars.
It will also be a major employer for the region, with between 800 and 1,000 people working in up to 75 stores.
You can hear KUAR's interview with reporter Lance Turner above.