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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nike, Gap, Banana Republic coming to Merrimack outlet mall

MERRIMACK – The cat’s out of the shopping bag.

Just one retailer – Saks Fifth Avenue – had been identified out of more than 100 stores coming to the Merrimack Premium Outlets mall. But a list of 22 names has emerged from a review of permits issued by Merrimack.

Fire and fit up permits approved so far for the mall include Saks, Nike, Gap, Hanes, Banana Republic, Reebok, Brooks Brothers, J. Crew and Coach. Other retailers who have obtained permits include: Guess, Timberland, OshKosh B’Gosh, Bose and Ecko.

The names of the retailers end the long silence maintained by Premium Outlets, owner of the mall and a subsidiary of Simon Property Group.

To this day, the company has not revealed which stores will comprise the 430,000 square feet of retail space at the Industrial Drive complex.

Only high-end department store chain Saks Inc. had announced, back in August, that it will open a Off 5th store at the Merrimack mall. That store – an outlet chain of the larger Saks Fifth Avenue store – will be the largest in the mall, occupying with 28,000 square feet of space.

On Friday, Merrimack fire building permit officials confirmed permits have been approved for 21 other retailers wanting to start construction. Another 15 retailers still have applications pending for permits through the building and code division, they said.

The mall is scheduled to open in June. The $100 million project includes 114 retail spaces, including up to four restaurants, and a 200-room hotel.

Nike is set to be the second largest store at the mall, with 13,000 square feet of space. But a store larger than Nike could be among the permits not yet issued.

The spaces include 24,000 square feet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean only one store will take that spot, permit officials said.

Saks will probably be the largest retailer, they said.

The center is projected to generate more than $140 million in retail sales each year, as well as more than $1 million annually in property taxes. The mall’s developer has said as many as 800 full- and part-time retail jobs will be created.

Supporters point to the mall’s position between New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, and its proximity to Massachusetts as a sure sign that it will draw customers.

The mall will include retailers that are new to the state, including the Off 5th store. Until now, Saks shoppers had to travel to Boylston Street in Boston. Audiophiles in this area had to travel to Burlington, Mass., or Kittery, Maine, for the closest Bose store. Nike fans had to trek to Tilton for one of that company’s stores.

Scores of residents have long objected to the project, claiming its size would cause traffic problems, among other concerns, and affect the quality of life.

Blasting work on the site has been halted by the town four times since construction began last year. Noise and water pollution concerns stopped the work on those separate occasions.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-6528 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out McKeon (@Telegraph_AMcK) on Twitter.