By  on September 10, 2008

DALLAS — Prime Outlets, a developer of off-price malls that feature designer fashion, wants a piece of the retail action in the metro Dallas region, which has showed strength during the U.S. economic downturn.

The company plans to open its first north Texas outlet center by holiday 2009 in Grand Prairie, Tex., a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth. Executives said the 485,000-square-foot center will feature 120 stores and a food court and will cost at least $100 million to build. Construction is to begin this fall.

Preleasing is under way: A 22,000-square-foot Neiman Marcus Last Call and 28,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th are already confirmed.

Selling at a discount is becoming more attractive to retailers struggling in a weak economic climate.

The Grand Prairie project “is well-positioned to become one of the region’s most popular shopping destinations for local consumers and the region’s growing tourist base,” said Gayle Tremblay, vice president of Neiman Marcus’ clearance division.

The Dallas metro area, with a population of 6.1 million, continues on a growth trajectory that will add 20 million square feet of retail space by 2012. The population is projected to rise 8.7 percent in that period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Prime Outlets’ target shoppers are women ages 35 to 45 with a household income of about $75,000 a year. The company also has a designer outlet open-air center in San Marcos, Tex., near Houston. It is a division of Prime Retail, which owns and operates 21 outlet centers in markets that include Orlando, Fla., Williamsburg, Va., and Grove City, Pa.

Other Prime Outlets construction includes a $156 million, 470,000-square-foot unit in Livermore, Calif., scheduled to open in 2010, and a $120 million, 450,000-square-foot center with at least 120 stores in Holly Springs, Ga., north of Atlanta, set to open in 2010.

“We are answering the call to deliver large, well-tenanted outlet centers throughout our growing portfolio,” said Robert Brvenik, president of Prime Retail.

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