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Outlet mall developer pulls out of Lexington site

A developer has pulled out of plans to build an outlet shopping center at this site on U.S. 1 near Interstate 20 in Lexington.
A developer has pulled out of plans to build an outlet shopping center at this site on U.S. 1 near Interstate 20 in Lexington. ashain@thestate.com

A Boston-based retail developer has called off plans to build a 75-store, 300,000-square-foot outlet mall in Lexington, a real estate agent representing the landowner said Tuesday.

New England Development also was pitching another 400,000 square feet of retail space on the 62-acre site on U.S. 1 near the intersection with Interstate 20, according to a marketing guide from the company.

An ad for the company in the September edition of the trade magazine, Shopping Center Business, mentions Outlets of Columbia as coming to Lexington in 2017. The Columbia region does not have an outlet shopping center.

But after promoting the shopping center plans for much of the year, the developer pulled the plug a few weeks ago, said Hance Jones of Carolinas Retail Partners, who was representing the landowner.

No reason was given, Jones said. “The idea was good,” he said.

Efforts to reach executives of New England Development, which has opened outlet centers in North Carolina and Florida, were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Jones said he hopes another shopping center will consider the site, which is in a fast-growing area of the Midlands. He said he has received some interest for property along U.S. 1.

Marianne Bickle, who heads the retailing department at the University of South Carolina, said she does not think developers had problems finding tenants.

The problem for such a large project was more likely how the Lexington area has swelled in recent years. Lexington’s population has about doubled since 2000. The site is less than three miles from the town’s center.

“You have to think 20 years ahead,” Bickle said. “Outlet malls, typically, go into more remote areas. I suspect that it’s too tight of a location. Five years ago, Lexington would have been perfect. The issue might have been traffic patterns.”

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