Before the restoration of numerous buildings along Broughton Street in downtown Savannah, developer Ben Carter already had a shovel in the ground a little west of downtown in Pooler.
In September 2013, Carter and his team broke ground on what was touted as the Outlet Mall of Georgia, a 560,000-square-foot facility in west Chatham County. The vision for the center shifted slightly in early 2014 when Tanger Factory Outlet Center Inc. purchased a stake in what is now Tanger Outlets Savannah.
The outlet center opened in 2015, bringing more than 90 upscale brand name and designer outlet stores, including J. Crew, Coach and Nike. Additional retailers at the Pooler mall have continued to grow with the recent addition of H&M, Forever 21 and several restaurants.
Carter and Tanger operated a 50-50 stake in the mall until last August and while no longer involved with the outlet center, BCE still maintains the 56-acres of outparcels surrounding the mall, which are home to Panda Express, Applebee’s, Vaden Chevrolet, Captain D’s and Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
A new 151,000 square-foot shopping center will be home to craft giant Hobby Lobby along with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Goods, Ulta Beauty. The development should be open by the end of the year, according to Quito Anderson, CEO of Ben Carter Enterprises.
“That city is growing by leaps and bounds,” Anderson said, adding that the Pooler project is also nearing completion with only a few outparcels remaining.
“… When we started here Savannah was basically a one market city for retail… Now you have three markets; you’ve got the downtown shopping district, the Abercorn shopping district and you’ve got the Pooler shopping district.”
Anderson contributes much of BCE’s success in both Pooler and Savannah to city leadership and support.
“Mayor (Mike) Lamb and (City Manager) Robbie Byrd have been nothing but good for that city,” he said of Pooler.
“And Mayor (Eddie) DeLoach realizes there’s an opportunity and is jumping on it and is encouraging a development of the city that is not just focused on St. Patrick’s Day.”