In the battle of the Sarpy County outlet malls, a clear winner and loser have emerged.
In Gretna, the Nebraska Crossings outlet is nearing completion, with more than 80 tenants signed on. The outlet, a $150 million “smart shopping” center rising off Interstate 80, is scheduled to open in November.
In La Vista, the Southport West outlets, a project spearheaded by Maryland developer Cordish Cos., is officially a no-go. The company that promised a $114 million outlet and entertainment district quietly scrapped the deal after running into problems purchasing land and choosing to focus on other business ventures, including a large casino project in Maryland, La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig said.
“It was a good project for them, but it never really rose to the top of their priority list,” he said.
Sent back to the drawing board, La Vista officials now say they think an entertainment district with bars, restaurants and outdoor art and music venues is the best use for the Southport West land.
Kindig and City Administrator Brenda Gunn said the city continues to field phone calls from developers. Southport developer Dean Hokanson said an announcement about the site could be made before the end of the year.
“We've still got investments we made out there in the hotel and conference center and Cabela's and they could do even better with more development around them,” Kindig said.
Kindig and Gunn said Southport West remains one of the more valuable pieces of property in landlocked La Vista, meaning city officials need to be picky about what's developed there.
“I'd rather wait a few years for the right project than settle for the wrong project,” Kindig said.
Announced in January 2011, the Southport West outlet project was touted as a coup for La Vista after the city was passed over for other shopping centers and the Werner Park stadium. The development was to include a 300,000-square-foot outlet mall, a 60,000-square-foot entertainment district reminiscent of one of Cordish Cos. big successes — Kansas City's Power and Light District — and a 75,000-square-foot movie theater.
Cordish Cos. officials described it as a regional tourism destination that would bring 1.2 million visitors to La Vista each year to shop, dine and attend concerts. The shopping and entertainment district would join the Cabela's, Embassy Suites, Courtyard by Marriott and the La Vista Conference Center that make up the Southport West development off Interstate 80 near 126th Street and Giles Road.
But while Cordish officials in 2012 said leases were being signed and design plans drawn up, little on-site work occurred, even as piles were driven and pipes fitted at the Nebraska Crossing site 11 miles away.
Predictions proved true that only one project would come to fruition, that Sarpy County just wasn't big enough for two multimillion dollar outlets that would compete for tenants and customers, Hokanson said.
“In the final determination, one outlet mall in Sarpy County is plenty,” he said. “That's very unfortunate, but that's the way it turned out.”
Kindig said the city, which signed a nonbinding agreement pledging $45 million for parking, streets and other infrastructure improvements, had little input on the private deal that soon fizzled.
“Really, after that it was out of our hands,” Kindig said.
Cordish Cos. did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Kindig now said he regrets going along with the splashy announcement when plans were so tentative.
“Announcements don't mean anything until there's a contract,” he said.