Outlet mall coming to Northampton

Courtesy | Google
Courtesy | Google

By: Ashley Kline
Ground-breaking on the outlet mall to be built on Northampton Boulevard will occur in April 2016. This development received backing from the city of Norfolk since its conception. The idea for the outlet mall spent years in the planning stages and is finally coming to fruition.
Simon Property Group Inc., the largest owner of malls in the country, is playing a large role in the construction. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Simon is planning to invest $75 million. The outlet mall will be built on the Lake Wright Golf Course, which is located in close proximity to campus. The outlet mall is expected to bring 90 new stores to the area and approximately $135 million in sales per year.
The Virginian-Pilot also reported the outlets will take up approximately 350,000 square feet of leasable space. Furthermore, with the construction of the outlet mall, the city of Norfolk is expected to bring in approximately $3.3 million more per year following the opening. This outlet mall is estimated to generate an additional $7.2 million per year for the state.
The opening of these outlets will provide more options for Virginia Wesleyan students by bringing more shopping options closer to campus and making it easier and more convenient for students to retrieve items they want and need.
Many students expressed excitement toward the increase in shopping options and said they think it will be a positive development for the area.
“I think it will be good for students in the area to have a place to go. The malls I’ve had to go to have been farther away,” freshman Joelle Norfleet said.
“It will be interesting to see the different stores they have and it will be cool for more shopping because I really like shopping,”  freshman Hannah Weber said.
While some are excited about the increase in shopping opportunities, others believe Hampton Roads already has a sufficient number of malls already.
“I’m not much of a mall person. I guess it would be nice for different things and different people, more things closer. But at the same time it’s like, don’t we have enough malls?” freshman Diana Dillon said.
With approximately 90 new stores coming to the area with the addition of the outlet mall, there will be a greater number of job opportunities for students.
However, one concern that some students say they have is the traffic the outlet mall will bring with it.
“When I first heard about it, I was really excited like ‘oh yes a new mall’ cause Pembroke is kind of far. But the traffic here is already pretty bad,” freshman Catalina Jones said.
“There are like really good pros and everything and there are really bad cons. But with the commuter perspective, I would have to say that I kind of oppose the outlet mall, mostly because I hate traffic. Like I hate it so much,” freshman Nel Hart said.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, planners are attempting to figure out how to best prevent higher levels of traffic. One option being considered is the extension of Wesleyan Drive.
However, a study conducted by the firm URS produced results stating that implementing a road design using Lake Wright Boulevard as opposed to Wesleyan Drive would be most beneficial to commuter travel time and average speed on Northampton Boulevard.
Furthermore, a different study that was carried out by Norfolk Academy, located on the southwest corner of Wesleyan Drive, generated results stating the safest option is to use Lake Wright Boulevard rather than extend Wesleyan Drive. These two different studies supported the concept of using Lake Right Boulevard as opposed to Wesleyan Drive.
While the outlet mall brings with it some exciting new developments, such as more shopping closer to campus and more job opportunities for students, it also sparks some concern. This concern primarily surrounds traffic. However, no one will truly know the impact of the outlet mall on students and the community until after it opens.