Bass Pro Shops and Trustmark Park in Pearl attracted more than 2.3 million visitors in 2006.
That number will undoubtedly increase when a major retail development planned for the area is completed next year. Spectrum Capital, LLC, a private real estate development firm in Jackson, recently announced phase II of its Rankin County project. It is Mississippi Premier Outlets at Bloomfield, a 300,000-square-foot open-air factory outlet center.
Spectrum president Jason Voyles, said, “Shopping has become the nation’s No. 1 activity, and a quality outlet center is a perfect fit for Bloomfield and the Jackson area with the Bass Pro Shops and Trustmark Park. It shows our ability to attract big names who have not considered locating in Mississippi — until now. We will apply the same philosophy when attracting retailers for Mississippi Premier Outlets at Bloomfield. We will bring both stores already familiar to shoppers and some names people have only experienced in other states.”
Voyles predicts that once completed, Bloomfield will become Mississippi’s premier entertainment destination for family fun.
“We plan to announce the hiring of our leasing agent very soon. I can tell you they have experience signing national retailers in outlet centers across the nation. We will combine the efforts of our leasing team with Spectrum’s in-house resources to attract the most desirable names in the outlet industry,” said Voyles.
Located strategically to the northeast of the Bass Pro Shops, the outlet center’s primary entrance will be from U.S. 80. Childre Road, which is adjacent to the area, and was expanded to five lanes as part of the development.
“Construction is scheduled to begin this June for the connection of the existing Bass Pro Drive to U.S. 80,” said Ken Neyman, a Spectrum vice president.
The cost of the outlet center is estimated at more than $50 million, and the cost of the total Bloomfield project is around $180 million. The outlet center represents phase II of the 163-acre Bloomfield development.
The general contractor for the project will be Philadelphia-based Yates Construction, which has offices in Jackson and throughout the South. Yates also built the Bass Pro Shops and Trustmark Park. The expected completion date of the outlet center, as well as the additional attractions, is late 2008.
Neyman said a Holiday Inn is currently under construction, and “we feel like this is a perfect fit for the Bloomfield project.”
Bloomfield will be accessed by four main thoroughfares: I-20 (108,000 average daily traffic), I-55 (101,000 average daily traffic), U.S. 80 (26,000 average daily traffic) and U.S. 49 (53,000 average daily traffic).
“The City of Pearl has welcomed us with open arms. This project would not have been possible without their cooperation and support. The same can be said for Rankin County, as well,” said Neyman.
He said various dining, shopping and entertainment attractions will be part of the Bloomfield project, and will be announced in coming months.
“Bloomfield will be similar to Vicksburg’s outlet center in the sense that it is also a factory outlet center. However, Bloomfield will be much larger (70 to 80 stores) and contain a number of stores not found at that location,” said Neyman.
He noted an open-air center differs from a traditional mall in that the common areas between stores in such a center will not be enclosed, whereas a traditional mall is completely indoors. “Factory outlet stores contain ‘first run’ merchandise sold directly by the manufacturer or ‘last season’ merchandise straight from the store’s shelves. In most instances, the third party retailer is eliminated. Outlet stores sell brand name merchandise from national retailers at discount prices,” said Neyman.
Neyman, a former banker, said, “We estimate between 700 to 1,000 jobs will be created (directly) by this development. As for jobs created indirectly, we do not have exact numbers, but we can say the area’s unemployment rate will definitely change for the better.”
He noted that a conservative estimate of the projected retail sales for the outlet center would be more than $100 million. With the resulting sales tax revenues, and other ancillary revenues (i.e., food sales, bed taxes, etc.), this project will provide a significant boost to Mississippi’s economy.
Having a plan
Pearl Mayor Jimmy Foster, who is serving his third term, credits the successes in economic development to working hard to pursue projects. He personally pursued the Bass Pro Shop and the Braves stadium.
“We had a five- to seven-year plan to develop the rest of the property,” said Foster.
He said the outlet mall and the other businesses will wrap up the development with the exception of some out parcels that are expected to be sold.
Latest sales tax figures from the Mississippi State Tax Commission show Pearl has collected approximately $5.8 million in sales tax revenue as of March..
“The Bloomfield Development has made a tremendous impact on our county and the metro area by offering both professional sports and entertainment and a nationally known shopping destination with Bass Pro Shop,” said Tom Troxler, executive director, Rankin First Economic Development Authority.
He said, “The impact on tourism, retail sales and jobs has been so positive and much more is to come as the development expands to attract more retail and tourism areas.”
Fred Rendfrey, executive director, Pearl Chamber of Commerce, said he came to work “after everything (phase 1) had been announced and when dirt began moving.”
Rendfrey said, “The economic impact for this development will be huge when coupled with an outlet mall. The number of visitors is already unheard of for the metro Jackson area. By adding the retail component from phase II, the Bloomfield Development will truly be a destination for visitors. Whether the outlet mall bargains are perceived or not, when I go to Destin or Gulf Shores, I always stop by outlet malls and spend more money than I had planned to do. There has been some interest for some time in new retail in Pearl and Rankin County, but now we feel we are poised to truly take advantage of Pearl’s location.”