Mar 13, 2014
09:58 AM
Connecticut Today

Outlets Shopping Coming to Rentschler Field; Foxwoods Project Underway

Outlets Shopping Coming to Rentschler Field; Foxwoods Project Underway

A view of the UConn football stadium at Rentschler Field from the state's tourism website.

Spring this year isn’t just a season of renewal for winter-weary Connecticut residents who want to break free from the bonds of hibernation and get out for some recreation, dining, and, of course, shopping.

For savvy shoppers, spring will arrive just a little brighter this year with the news that the options for shopping at outlet centers in the state are about to double.

The Michigan-based Horizon Group Properties, Inc. announced Wednesday that it has entered into  an agreement to develop a new, 350-square-foot outlet shopping center on the former airstrip at Rentschler Field in East Hartford—adjacent to Pratt & Whitney, the United Technologies Research Center, the University of Connecticut’s football stadium and the Cabela’s outdoor experience store.

But that’s not the only exciting outlet shopping experience news.

In an interview last week with The Motley Fool, Steven Tanger, the CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, had this to say about Tanger’s project at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Eastern Connecticut:

... in Foxwoods, Conn., we are building a bridge connecting the Grand Pequot Hotel and the MGM Grand Hotel casino floors. It will be about a 325,000-square-foot shopping center, but on a bridge. It will just be like one aisle way and you turn to your left or turn to your right, there's a store on either side.
That's an interesting format; very expensive engineering task to build, but we're under construction now. (Read the full Motley Fool interview with Tanger, or watch the video.)

Tanger Outlets already has a center in Westbrook, Conn., with more than 70 stores—with marquee names like J. Crew and Williams-Sonoma—along with movie theaters, service providers and dining options.

Connecticut’s other popular outlets center is the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, with 70 stores, including Adidas, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, DKNY, Dooney & Bourke, Elie Tahari, Gap Outlet, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Talbots and Tommy Hilfiger.

In a press release, Horizon Group Properties said its new center would be called The Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field. Scheduled to open in  the summer of 2016, it will feature  well-known brands and designer outlets.

“The center will be built on the site of the former airstrip, a historical source of pride for the town of East Hartford and the state of Connecticut,” Horizon said.

“Designed in a shopper-friendly configuration, the center will feature covered walkways and landscaped courtyards to maximize  shopper comfort and  convenience," the release said. “Its design will blend traditional architectural with a flavor of the history of the site and include a children’s play area and a center court designed to create a festive atmosphere for shoppers and other visitors to the center. The site will accommodate a 50,000 square foot expansion."

“We look forward to developing this property,” Gary J. Skoien, chief executive officer of Horizon Group Properties, said in the release. “Rentschler Field has been a recognized  location and  destination  to the people of Hartford and Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and other surrounding states for many years.”

In calling the new outlet center “a natural fit for this location,” and noting that the Hartford metropolitan area has 2.2 million residents with average incomes above the national average,” Horizon said, “The market currently has no outlet shopping centers.”

There may not be any outlets within the Hartford metro geography, but Connecticut residents know how easy it is to visit the shoreline and get to the Tanger or Clinton Crossing outlets—and there’s no lack of close-by shopping in the Hartford area, with options ranging from Westfarms Mall to Blue Back Square, The Shoppes at Buckland Hills and The Shoppes at Farmington Valley, to name just a few high-profile places.

But amid that shopping landscape, Horizon’s perception of an opportunity would seem to be on-target, as demand among American consumers for outlets shopping is on the rise.

Meanwhile, Horizon noted the positive impact of its project in other ways. “The development and operation of the center will generate substantial economic activity in East Hartford  and we look forward to working with East Hartford officials to make this development a reality,” Skoien said in the release.

When completed, the center is projected to generate more than $130 million in annual sales and $1.2 million in property taxes and $8.2 million in sales taxes. 

Over the next 10 years, the development and operation of the center are expected to generate a total of $100 million in sales and property taxes.

Horizon Group Properties, Inc. is based in Norton Shores, Mich., with executive offices in Rosemont, Ill. It is an owner and developer of factory outlet shopping centers and is the developer of a master planned community in suburban Chicago.  For more information, see the website at


Outlets Shopping Coming to Rentschler Field; Foxwoods Project Underway

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