Outlet opening draws thousands
July 18, 2013 11:29 PM | 6898 views | 2 2 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee County celebrated the grand opening of the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning. Above: A large crowd of shoppers and supporters attended the official grand opening. <br> Staff/Todd Hull
Cherokee County celebrated the grand opening of the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning. Above: A large crowd of shoppers and supporters attended the official grand opening.
Staff/Todd Hull
By Michelle Babcock


WOODSTOCK — As many as 25,000 people crowded The Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta during opening events Thursday as shoppers from all over poured into Cherokee County to check out the new mall.

The crowds taxed area roads, backed up traffic toward Atlanta and exceeded expectations of mall developers and store operators.

Gina Slechta, vice president of marketing for the mall’s developers, said the turnout for the opening of the mall, along with the traffic, was more than she expected.

“People from all over the world were at the opening, including people visiting Atlanta right now for the Microsoft convention,” Sletcha said Thursday evening.

By noon, the 1,781-car-capacity parking lot was already at capacity, following the official ribbon-cutting and opening event at 10 a.m.

The mall opening included performances by the Woodstock High School marching band and other entertainers, and throughout the speeches shoppers continued to pour into stores in search of bargains.

President and CEO Gary Skoien of Michigan-based Horizon Group Properties, who developed the mall along with CBL & Associates Properties, spoke to crowd of about 500 people attending the ribbon-cutting, saying he was proud of the new mall and hoped the community would be proud, too.

“There’s a lot of people involved in a project like this; this is an $85 million project,” Skoien said before the ribbon was cut. “It involves work by government officials, private contractors, retailers, bankers, you name it, lawyers, unfortunately, and a lot of other folks that are involved.”

The 370,000-square-foot shopping center has fountains, covered walkways, landscaped islands and about 90 stores. There is also space for an additional 30,000 square feet of expansion.

Skoien introduced his co-developer, CBL Vice President Michael Lebovitz, who also spoke at the ceremony.

“I want to thank all the elected officials. There are a number of elected officials, state, county, city of Woodstock, and a lot of other organizations, economic development, a lot of other people who have really been partners with us,” Lebovitz said. “We thank you for making today a reality for The Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta.”

The developers predict an annual $130 million in sales and $3 million in sales tax revenues.

Cherokee Chamber of Commerce Chairman Randy Gravely said the ribbon-cutting event was “truly a Chamber of Commerce day.”

“I’ve lived in Cherokee County all of my life, and over the past 40 years there’s been times where I can remember when we had to drive outside of the county to either shop, go to the doctor or dine,” Gravely said. “Ladies and gentlemen, those days are in the rear-view mirror. Those are the past, and today reaffirms that with the opening of The Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta.”

Gravely said the outlet mall would be marketed internationally, and visitors would be spending money that would help the city, the government, the economy, the school system and the county.

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the project was a “terrific example of teamwork.”

“It’s all kind of a community event,” Ahrens said. “(Wednesday night) was an unbelievable event.”

The mayor and three members of the city council, Liz Baxter, Tessa Basford and Bob Mueller, stood on stage for the ribbon-cutting.

Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques said Thursday afternoon that at least 6,000 people bought tickets to the Wednesday VIP preview.

“I firmly believe this is the biggest thing to hit Woodstock since the railroad, and that says a lot,” Henriques said.

Traffic around The Outlet Shoppes clogged up the interstate and surrounding area into the afternoon on Thursday.

The Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta opened in Woodstock on Thursday with 97 percent of the stores occupied, including the following retailers and restaurants:



American Eagle

Ann Taylor Factory Store

Ann Taylor Loft


Auntie Anne’s


Berry & Berry/Tropical Sensations

Book Warehouse


Brooks Brothers

C Wonder (coming soon)



Chao Praya

Charleys Philly Steaks (coming soon)

Charlotte Russe


Childrens Place




Cole Haan

Columbia Sportswear



Crabtree & Evelyn



Dress Barn

Easy Spirit


Famous Footwear


Fox Head

Ghirardelli Chocolate


Gold Toe





J. Crew


Johnston & Murphy

Jones NY

Jos A Bank


Juicy Couture


Kate Spade

Kay Jewelers

Kitchen Collection

Lane Bryant

Le Creuset




Lids Locker Room

Little Tokyo

Love Culture

Lucky Brand

Luggage Factory


Michael Kors

Motherhood Maternity

Naartjie Kids


New Balance


Nine West

Oshkosh B’gosh

P.S From Aeropostale



Saks Fifth Ave. Off Fifth


Sean John


Spritz Designer


Steve Madden

Sunglass Hut

Sunglass Warehouse


Taqueria Tsumani

Tommy Hilfiger

Toys R Us

True Religion

Ultra Jewelry

Under Armour

Van Heusen


Villa Pizza (coming soon)

Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton

White House|Black Market

Wilsons Leather

Yankee Candle


Comments-icon Post a Comment
Perplexed at Plan
July 22, 2013
Two things stand out in this article... 25,000 people and 1,781 parking spots... One lane exiting the interstate and the next exit up which does not have an outlet mall has two? Curious, who planned this?
Dave Z.
July 19, 2013
On the exit ramp onto Ridgewalk, there should be a second right-turn lane with a "KEEP MOVING" sign that becomes the right-turn lane into the mall.

Also, the left-turn lane off of the exit ramp should be extended further down the ramp to allow the Brookshire people a quicker escape from backed-up traffic.
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