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Prime outlets opens phase 2

November 21, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY and BRENDAN KIRBYs

With the flick of a giant light switch Friday night, Prime Outlets lit up a large Christmas tree, simultaneously ushering in the holiday shopping season and celebrating the grand opening of its second phase.

The grand opening brought the total number of stores up to 76, according to marketing director Alice Rosen.

"Welcome to our center and to our second opening in less than a year," she declared.

Phase II added a wide variety of tenants offering name-brand adult and children's clothing and shoes, religious items, tools, housewares, furniture, perfume, jewelry, lighting and paper products.

By early next year, when the remaining tenants already committed to storefronts are moved in, there will be more than 80 stores at the center, Rosen said.

A third phase is scheduled to be built "some time" in 1999, she said.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, who helped flip the light switch on Friday, said the stores have generated much excitement since a ground-breaking ceremony last December.

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"I wasn't really sure what the outlets were going to be about," he said. "When I went home and told my wife, she said, 'Oh, my god, I can't wait.'"

The 218,000-square-foot first phase had its grand opening with 51 stores on Aug. 7, though stores began opening about two weeks before as they were ready, said Brian Lewbart, spokesman for the Baltimore-based company that owns the village-style center.

Similarly, some of the 24 stores that celebrated their grand opening Friday have actually been open since mid-October, Lewbart said.

The Adidas Retail Outlet, which opened the last week in September, actually occupies a space built with the first phase, he said.

Two stores - Panda China and Perfume Mania - are expected to open this weekend or early next week, Rosen said.

Several customers who watched the tree-lighting on Friday appeared excited.

"I've been shopping here since the day it opened," said Hagerstown resident Ouida Thompson, who works at the Coffee House in the complex.

Hagerstown resident Scott Nicewarner said the outlets are easy to get to and offer a great variety.

"I don't see it as taking the place of the regular mall. I see it as a nice alternative," he said.

With the 100,000 square-foot expansion, the Hagerstown center is now the largest manufacturers outlet center in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore markets, Lewbart said.

While it contains outlet stores, the much larger Potomac Mills mall in Prince William County, Va., isn't considered part of that category because fewer than half of its stores are outlets, he said.

Prime Outlets at Hagerstown is one of 50 outlet center projects owned by Prime Retail, the largest owner and operator of outlet centers in the world, according to Lewbart.

The company estimates about a million people visited Prime Outlets at Hagerstown from the time of its grand opening through October, Lewbart said.

With the second phase open, the center provides about 600 permanent jobs, Lewbart said.

The expansion created more than 150 construction jobs and approximately 200 new sales and management jobs, he said.

The company is in the process of leasing space for the third phase, Lewbart said.




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