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Ellenton Outlets Set To Expand Wed, Apr. 02, 2008 By STACEY EIDSON Heavy traffic is just part of everyday life for Chris Jones. As the store manager for Rack Room Shoes at Prime Outlets-Ellenton, Jones has seen firsthand the thousands of shoppers the outlet mall can attract with its bargain prices. "Traffic can get pretty backed up, especially around the holidays," he said. When news began to spread earlier this year that the mall's owner, Prime Retail, was planning a $35 million expansion of the Ellenton outlet, Jones said many of the retailers were ecstatic the company also agreed to several road improvements in the area. In order to make access to the outlet easier, Prime Retail plans to widen the exit ramp from northbound Interstate 75 to U.S. 301, add turn lanes at the U.S. 301 and 60th Avenue East intersection and widen the mall's entrances. "I think fixing the roads will help with the traffic flow and bring people in and out of the mall much easier and faster," Jones said. "I actually also live in the area, so I think the road improvements and the mall expansion will also be good for Ellenton, Parrish and the Palmetto area." Last month, the Manatee County Planning Commission recommended the county approve a 136,000-square-foot expansion of Prime Outlets-Ellenton that would be built on the eastern side of the mall. Prime Retail is scheduled to address the Manatee County Commission on Thursday to request an amendment to the county's comprehensive plan to allow for the construction of the new expansion along 60th Avenue East and Factory Shops Boulevard. Giancarlo Filartiga, senior vice president of development for mall owner Prime Retail, told the planning commission in March that the new addition would include a Neiman Marcus Last Call and about three dozen smaller shops. Construction could begin as early as 2009, with the first stores opening by early summer of 2010, he said. Stefan Ciosici, a store manager for the Adidas outlet store at the Prime Outlets, said he is crossing his fingers that the construction of the new roadways runs smoothly. "We may have a little bit of suffering because of all of the construction, so it might get worse before it gets better," Ciosici said. "But, in the end, I think it will definitely improve the traffic in the area and bring more people to the outlet mall." There is already a growing excitement at the outlet mall about the addition of Neiman Marcus Last Call, Jones said. "The owners have already started with improvements to the first section of the mall by bringing in more high-end stores," Jones said. "Those additions have already brought in a lot of higher or more affluent clientele. I'm personally hoping this new expansion will also increase our local traffic because we get a lot of traffic from tourists alone. "It would be nice to attract more people from Manatee and Sarasota counties to the mall." Stacey Eidson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7908. Road improvements are included in the $35 million project <<back to press menu

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