End of era for Perryville Outlets
Moving trucks sat parked outside Perryville Outlet Center last week, ready to move the final items out of stores.
Inside, the Bass store had signs advertising up to 80 percent off items. Racks of shorts, tops, and shoes sat outside with prices reduced.
The center, open in Perryville since 1990 is now closed. No plans have been submitted with what will happen to the property now. Rumors of various plans have circulated - everything from self storage to another mall.
Amanda Hickman, economic development coordinator for the Town of Perryville, said there are tentative plans in the works but she isn't disclosing them. She also said no movement is expected on the property until spring 2017.
"They are still in the planning stages. A developer is interested. They are looking at options and deciding which way to go," said Hickman.
But when it comes to the center, there are more questions than answers.
What happened? Why did the center close?
Those are the questions former employees are asking. The center used to have Liz Claiborne, Leatherworks, Etienne Aigner, Oshkosh, Geoffrey Beene, Mikasa, Sears, Rue 21, a toy store, book store, Nike, Paper Factory, Bugle Boy, L.L. Bean, Factory Brand Shoes, and much more. All rotated in and out of the 45-unit center.
In recent years, just a handful of stores remained.
Four of the current staffers employed by the Town of Perryville all worked at the outlet center at some point.
Town administrator Denise Breder worked at the Kitchen Collection Store shortly after the center opened. Breder said she was between jobs and was hired as a supervisor. Town Clerk Jackie Sample worked in the center office in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
"I worked in the management office. I don't know what happened to it. Maybe because people shop online now. Maybe it's the location," said Sample. She also said that going there in recent years was "depressing."
Assistant town administrator Cathy McCardell worked at L'eggs, Hanes, Bali as a cashier and pantyhose stocker.
Office staffer Amy Yackanech worked at the Rue 21 store in 1998-99. "The toll kept people from coming," said Yackanech.
"It was a nice place to shop," said Breder.
There were many variations on plans over the years, that may have helped the center. At one point, the Stewart property which is now home to Hollywood Casino, had been a potential site for additional outlets. In 1999, other plans were submitted and later abandoned.
The center had three owners since 1995.
The property is currently zoned commercial highway.
The town is working on changing their zoning code. Those changes are unrelated to the closure of the outlet center, but may come into play for a new project on that sire.
The Town of Perryville collected $12,594.56 in annual real estate taxes. There were also personal property taxes paid.
The center's name is on the water tower in the area. That name will have to be removed before the property changes ownership. Up until a few years ago, the Town collected $6,000 for rental of the tower for the advertisement. A few years ago they began waiving that fee.
"We are losing a large commercial property. The tolls have had an impact and they've (management) not been able to attract (new stores)," said Hickman. She also said that the economy, the demise of outlets, and online shopping have had an impact.
In September, Perryville officials proposed expansion of the Enterprise Zone designation to included 68 Heather Lane, the outlet center property.
That means that if approved, the property would qualify for tax credits both for income tax credits and real property tax credits.
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