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Fair oaks challenges behemoth to the east

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More than 40 stores in fair oaks are new or have been remodeled in the past two years, and 13 more are scheduled to be added this year representing more than one third of the tenants.Several big names chose the center for their first store in the region, including verizon experience, designer michael kors and a new 50, 000 square foot concept from popular cheap chic retailer forever 21 called xxi.And if plans for a major multiyear expansion are approved, fair oaks would rival tysons in size.

“People are taking notice,”Said chris poleto, general manager of fair oaks. “You can see folks who maybe wouldn’t choose us first now looking to us as a great resource. ”

Fair oaks is upgrading in hopes of persuading neighborhood residents to stop by more often as well as becoming a destination for shoppers driving in from the west who are reluctant to tackle traffic all the way to tysons corner.Though it acknowledges that center’s dominance, fair oaks wants to position itself as the alternative.

William taubman, chief operating officer of taubman centers, which owns fair oaks, said customers frequently shop at both malls.His center primarily draws shoppers from about five miles to the north, east and south, but its reach west extends much farther.

“We both compete with each other.We each have strengths and weaknesses,”He said of tysons.But, he added,”I think there’s an opportunity to upscale the center based on the quality of the market in the area. ”

According to taubman’s research, nearly 1.1 million people in almost 400, 000 households live within Fair Oaks’ trade area.Nearly 45 percent of households have an average income of more than $100, 000.Within a five mile radius of the mall, average income jumps to $130, 000.

Taubman said he was not concerned about expanding during the current economic downturn because he thinks the washington region has a strong appetite for more retail in the long term. “We have the market to support it.There’s no doubt that the customer’s there,”He said. “It’s really our convincing the tenants that they can do that kind of michael kors online outlet business in fair oaks. ”

The 1.6 million square foot shopping center at the intersection of Interstate 66 and Route 50 in Fairfax is one of the largest in the Washington region.For years, it was populated with mid tierRetailersand restaurants even as household income in the region shot up and neighboring tysons boomed.Now the center is finally catching up, adding so called”Bridge”Retailers(They bridge mid tier and luxury stores)To upgrade its image.

The evolution began about five years ago when fair oaks recruited pottery barn and its children’s store to act as magnets for other higher end retailers.In 2006, fair oaks hit its stride with 26 new and remodeled stores.H opened one of its largest stores in northern virginia in the center, poleto said.

The cheesecake factory and its notoriously long lines arrived.Verizon opened its first full service retail store in the region, selling cellphones and michael kors:www.teambs.com.au tv, phone and internet services.

In 2007, 18 stores in the mall opened or were remodeled.Among the new tenants was luxury handbag maker coach, helping cement the movement upscale.This year, 13 new and remodeled stores have been announced.An apple store arrived in april.This month, teen retailer forever 21 is planning to open a pared down version of a department store, featuring inexpensive, trendy apparel and accessories for men, women and children.Kors’s designer wear store is also scheduled to open this month.

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