The latest major expansion for Woodbury Common Premium Outlets could bring hotels and new shops and restaurants to the mall, which is already an international shopping destination.
It was only spring 2017 that Simon Property Group, the real estate investment trust that owns and operates the mall, announced the completion of a 60,000-square-foot expansion. That was phase four.
The Central Valley mall’s ownership is now ready to start phase five. Simon plans to add about 140,000 square feet of retail space, two hotels, restaurants and even a helipad, according to plans under review by the village of Woodbury.
The retail space would push the mall’s total to more than 1 million square feet. Woodbury Common already includes 240 stores and generates more than $1.3 billion in sales annually, according to the company. The mall was built in 1985, with expansions following in 1993, 1994 and 1998 before the start of the latest in 2013.
The Woodbury Planning Board began reviewing Simon’s latest plan earlier in December. The total new retail space would reach 143,492 square feet, according to the plans, primarily in the southwestern portion of the property. The hotels would be 120 rooms each, near the north end of the property. Other construction includes 12,000 square feet of restaurant space and a 6,000-square-foot spa facility, adjacent to the proposed hotels.
A parking garage would be built on the north end of the property, while Simon would expand an existing one on the southeastern portion. All together, the construction would add 2,140 parking spaces. Both garages would include a roof with solar panels.
The new parking garage would also include a helipad for fly-in luxury shoppers. Simon Vice President of Development John Villapiano said the helipad would be a new concept for the Simon portfolio, which includes 37 U.S. retail properties. The shopping center, he told the Woodbury Planning Board Dec. 5, has “received several inquiries from both customers and private helicopter operators about bringing customers up to experience not only our property, but also the benefits of the greater Orange County area.”
Simon also said the construction would include landscaping and lighting improvements throughout the property.
This latest proposal comes as construction is already underway on $150 million in state-funded road and transit improvements on the busy Routes 17 and 32 interchange. The design-build project started construction a year ago and includes new exits, a new Route 32 bridge, an additional access point to Woodbury Common and a 200-space park-and-ride lot with a solar-powered bus shelter.
The prior expansion of the mall, built over three years, added 40 stores, including Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Rag & Bone. It also expanded the food options to include Shake Shack, Yo! Sushi and Pret A Manger. The project included WiFi throughout the property and a four-level parking garage with more than 1,000 spaces.
With the planning board in the initial stages of a review of the project, at least one public official has raised concerns. Assemblyman and state Sen.-elect James Skoufis wrote a letter to the Woodbury Planning Board urging it to require the construction of a Metro-North train station at the outlets as a condition of the expansion, according to a report in the Middletown Times Herald-Record.
In February, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised a Metro-North stop for Woodbury during a speech at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. The governor said the stop would help alleviate “one of the really impossible traffic situations in the world.” But since then, there has been no announcement of a timeline or how the construction would be financed.
A Metro-North spokesperson told the Times Herald-Record that the railroad is “in ongoing conversations with Simon Property Group about the funding to make a new Metro-North station at the Woodbury Common Outlets a reality.”
The closest train stop to the mall is in Harriman, just under three miles away.
Skoufis also reportedly objected to the proposed helipad, unless used only for medical evacuations.
“Commercial or private helicopters flying into and out of Woodbury Common is an over-the-top and undesirable prospect for the people who live in the surrounding area,” he wrote, as reported by the Times Herald-Record.
The Indianapolis-based Simon is the largest shopping mall operator in the U.S. by square footage. The company’s properties include The Westchester luxury shopping mall in White Plains and The Shops at Nanuet in Rockland County. The company also owned the Galleria Mall in White Plains up to 2016, at which point the company sold it for $120 million to Pacific Retail Capital Partners.