Auburn's Supermall to get a new look, name
By ROBERT WHALE
Auburn Reporter News reporter
June 6, 2012 · 6:54 AM
The Supermall is about to get a makeover — and a new name, referencing not Auburn but a certain big city with a Space Needle 30 miles to the north.
Columbus-Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust, which has owned the mall since 1997, announced last week plans to change its Auburn holding from a hybrid mall to "a pure outlet center," which it will call The Outlet Collection|Seattle.
These changes represent part of Glimcher's strategy to "continuously improve its quality and identify growth opportunities" within its portfolio of holdings, according to a company press release.
"We have been in the outlet business for more than 15 years, and are excited about the opportunities presented by this growing segment," said Michael P. Glimcher, chairman of the Board and CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust. "The Outlet Collection better reflects the upscale tenants at these properties and opens up new options for value-priced retailers looking to grow in the next 12 to 24 months."
Jersey Gardens, the largest outlet center in New Jersey, will undergo similar changes, becoming The Outlet Collection|Jersey Gardens.
Both properties are part of a $60 million redevelopment project the company first announced last January.
Glimcher will introduce new logos and signage in addition to a redevelopment of the interior and exterior to "modernize the aesthetic" and update the functional features of both malls.
"Every restroom on the property will be completely overhauled," Greg Fleser, general manager of the Auburn Supermall told City officials Tuesday. "We will have a four-star caliber family restroom included with it. All the wood flooring in the mall currently, while it may look beautiful today, has only one or two good years of life and keeping it that way, so it will be replaced."
Gone will be the mockups of trains and planes at each entrance. In addition to new flooring, the renovation is to include interior rails, light fixtures, new concourse furniture and interior signs. Glimcher will add new WiFi hotspots.
Exterior work should be completed to incorporate the "new name branding" at all exits and entrances.
Councilwoman Nancy Backus asked about that name change.
"It says The Outlet Collection Seattle," Backus noted. "We're Auburn."
"We are," Fleser said. "This was no whimsical decision. We spent several hundred thousand (of dollars) in marketing research and studies and demographer reports, and it was very, very important for this to succeed. What we're hoping for is a high, single-digit rate of return within three years on this investment, and to do that, we need to attract from the entire region and internationally with tourism as well. Tourism is a very big part of what we do.
"... While Auburn is very important to us and we're still in the community, the name itself has to speak to an entire regional attraction," Fleser continued. "The premium outlets across the country are ever so rarely actually in the area after which they name themselves for that very reason. We would be silly not to follow suit with something like that."
Glimcher's overhaul will introduce some new tenants, but the company is declining to name them at this time, Fleser said.
The Auburn project should start its first phase of construction this fall and wrap up by October of 2013.
Glimcher bought the Supermall property in 1997, two years after it opened, through a joint venture, taking complete ownership a year later. With 130 retailers, it is one of the largest malls in the Pacific Northwest. Among the tenants are such well known entities as Nordstrom Rack,Tommy Hilfiger Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Old Navy Outlet, Gap Outlet and the Ann Taylor Factory Store.
"This is not about addressing a problem, it's about building on existing success and compounding that dramatically," Fleser said. "We recognize that there's a niche and a need in this market for pure outlet, and that's what we are committed to providing. Not as the Supermall, though, as the Outlet Collection. We want to announce ourselves as something new, something different, something unique. And when this is completed, we'll be the largest, enclosed outlet center in the Pacific Northwest."
The mall will remain open during construction.
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Contact Auburn Reporter News reporter Robert Whale at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-833-0218, ext. 5052.