If you build it, they will come.
The adage proved true during opening weekend in late October at Tampa Premium Outlets, when thousands of customers flooded the parking lot, many battling for spaces.
The outdoor mall, which houses more than 100 stores, is the only one of its kind within 50 miles, meaning residents of the Tampa Bay area will no longer have to drive to Ellenton or Orlando for factory stores.
Not only did the mall's long-awaited opening mean consumers had a local spot to holiday shop, but business leaders expect the job creation and tax revenue to be a long-term boon to Pasco County and the region. At an August job fair, retailers worked to fill more than 800 part-time positions.
Also, outlet malls tend to draw people from a 50- to 60-mile radius, while retail malls tend to draw customers from within only 10 to 15 miles. That means the mall will attract people to the Lutz-Wesley Chapel area who otherwise wouldn't have stopped, creating a new customer base for restaurants and even the nearby Shops at Wiregrass.
The mall is toward the western end of State Road 56, a stretch of several miles that has experienced breakneck growth during the past several years. And despite concerns that the mall would lead to a critical mass of traffic along SR 56 near the Interstate 75 junction, conditions actually improved somewhat as county and state officials adjusted the timing of the traffic lights.
Josh Solomon, Times staff