Foxwoods breaks ground on $115M outlet shops
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) — Foxwoods Resort Casino headed in a new direction Thursday, breaking ground on a 300,000-square-foot retail center.
The Mashantucket Pequot tribal casino, fresh off renegotiating sizable debt and competing for a gambling license in Massachusetts, now joins the neighboring Mohegan Sun in broadening the casino brand to include shopping at Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods.
"I call this entertainment for the non-gambling spouse," said Steven B. Tanger, president and chief executive of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. in Greensboro, N.C.
The outlet center will offer more than 80 stores, including American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein and Nike. The total investment will be $115 million, he said.
The retail center is set to open by the 2014 Christmas season or early 2015, depending on weather, he said. It will connect two casino floors, taking advantage of 10 million to 15 million pedestrians a year.
Tanger expects 400 jobs will be created during construction and about 900 full- and part-time retail jobs will be established at the center. It's expected to pay $10.4 million in state sales tax annually.
Last June, neighboring Mohegan Sun announced plans for a $50 million retail project. Tanger said he does not believe the proximity of the two retail sites will cut into sales of his project.
The two Indian-run casinos are also competing for separate Massachusetts gambling licenses as they seek to generate more revenue. Slot revenue has been falling steadily due to rising casino competition in the Northeast and the weak economic recovery that has cut into consumer spending.
Tanger said he's not worried about financial conditions.
"We feel the economy is rebounding," he said.
Unemployment has been falling and consumers are paying off their credit cards, strengthening their personal balance sheets, Tanger said.
For Foxwoods, the retail center and its drive to open a casino in Milford, Mass., represent a new turn following a debt-renegotiation with creditors that an analyst said will reduce its debt from $2.27 billion to $1.74 billion.
A spokesman said Foxwoods chief executive Scott Butera was not available for comment Thursday.