CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A major business project got underway in southwest Charlotte on Friday.
Developers and local leaders broke ground for the new Charlotte Premium Outlets in Steele Creek at 9 a.m. The outlet mall is expected to open next summer off Interstate 485 on Steele Creek Road.
"It's just going to be a whole game changer, I think, for this area," said Mayor Patsy Kinsey.
The center will boast 90 stores on an 80-acre lot. The new outlets are expected to create more than 800 full- and part-time jobs in 400,000 square feet of retail space.
The approval process to get the outlet center built has taken several months. Some groups were opposed to it because of the tax break the city agreed to, and others argued there would be too much traffic in the area. Some people also said they were concerned the new construction would have a negative impact on the environment, specifically on Lake Wylie.
Developers said those concerns have been addressed.
"Every site has its own unique concerns -- traffic, environmental concerns, air quality -- those are things we always have to address. And historically we always have," said Mark Silvestri of Simon Property Group. "In the end I think everyone will be happy with what we deliver in the community."
The project will create 300 to 500 construction jobs, with the number increasing as the center nears completion.
"I think it will bring more activity to the area and bring an economic base to the area. As we talked before, it will bring jobs and sales tax revenue which are all very important to the area," said Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
Murray said thanks to its proximity to Interstate 485, the outlet mall will also mean more visitors from outside the Charlotte area.
“Shopping is a huge reason why folks come to our community from outside," he said.
When the outlet opens next year, it's expected to generate more than $140 million a year in retail sales and generate annual sales tax revenue of $10 million.
"What today is just a vacant lot, a year from now will be bustling with activity," Silvestri said.
Two developers are working together on the project. Tanger Outlets and the Simon Property Group are building the outlet center together after each proposed outlet malls in Charlotte.