Before ever opening its doors, the new Nebraska Crossing Outlets mall is already considering expansion due to expressed interest.
While the mall itself is a large source of economic development for the City of Gretna, its benefits expand far beyond the realm of retail outlets.
“My experience in my 30 years is traffic creates more traffic,” City Administrator Jeff Kooistra said.
He said as retail developments research a town, one thing they specifically ask for is traffic counts in front of proposed locations, as that figure has a large impact on potential business. He said Nebraska Crossing has increased interest in Gretna for this reason.
“When you have a big facility like that, you’ve got to realize you’ll get more traffic,” he said.
Already the response to increased traffic can be seen with more businesses popping up along Highway 31, he said.
While what runs over the roads is important to retailers, what runs underneath is equally important to developers.
“We’re putting in a 16-inch water main down (Highway 31),” Kooistra said. “That’s a big main, so you have a large source of water.”
He said the water source has created a large interest in development near Nebraska Crossing, as the city has already been approached by more commercial and light industrial developers interested in the area.
Additionally, Kooistra said the city will take a look at sewer work in the area, though that is further down the road for Gretna.
“Nobody likes to talk about sewers, but it drives a lot of projects,” he said.
Outside of commercial and industrial projects, Kooistra said the new mall also helps out residents in many ways, the most obvious being employment.
“They’re creating 500 employment opportunities,” he said.
Realistically speaking, he said employees may not all be from Gretna, but it will pull employees from other parts of the metropolitan area who will then interact with other local businesses.
“It’s an opportunity to bring other business to the area,” Kooistra said.
As more employee positions are created and business conducted, it creates more sales tax revenue that assists the city with operational costs.
“Also, as these things are a lot closer, the convenience is huge,” he said.
Once the mall opens, it creates a proximity for goods and services for Gretna residents, which Kooistra said is a big factor for some shoppers.
Ultimately, however, Kooistra said the largest benefit of the new mall is that it puts the city of Gretna “on the map in a big way.”
“You’ve got cranes in the air, that tells you stuff is happening,” he said.
Located between the two large cities of Omaha and Lincoln, he said Nebraska Crossing is receiving a lot of attention, which gives Gretna attention. He said he has even heard people from central Iowa — where he worked and lived prior to his appointment — talk about the new outlet mall.
The mall will also be a smart mall, connecting retailers and customers through wireless Internet and other platforms. Kooistra said this new use of technology in shopping has created a buzz.
“It creates people coming out this way,” he said.
Kooistra said he feels people will look back and identify more benefits of the outlet mall for years to come.
“Today, we can only speculate,” he said.
The current 350,000-square foot mall is quickly filling, with 61 of its 65 storefronts already leased with businesses such as Coach accessories, Under Armour athletic apparel and Swarovski Crystals.
The latest tenant to be announced is Kate Spade New York, an upscale retailer known for graphic prints that sells handbags, clothing, jewelry, eyewear and home decor.
The new mall is slated to open on Nov. 15, in time for the holiday shopping season.