Meet The Man Behind the King of Prussia Mall Expansion
The King of Prussia Mall just hit a big milestone with its expansion project: The Plaza and Court are now connected by a 170,000 square foot structure that will house 50 new stores, along with cafes, fountains and a new parking complex. Set to be completed in August 2016, the mall will span 2.86 million square feet with 450 retailers and restaurants. (Check out a sweet time-lapse video of the project.)
The man behind it all is Simon Malls President David Contis. Dressed in a suit and white hard hat, he gave me some insight on the project while we toured the site.
BizPhilly: What’s the economic impact of the mall expansion?
Contis: When this is all done, the mall is going to generate $1 billion in sales, that’s generating $60 million in sales tax revenue for the local government. We pay $8 million per year in real estate taxes, that goes to schools and roads. You also have 7,000 jobs. We’re creating 400 construction jobs right now, those are very high-paying. The new retailers are creating another 500 to 800 jobs. That’s a big economic catalyst.
How do you pick a certain retailer over another? And who is the consumer you’re trying to attract?
The interesting thing about King of Prussia is that it appeals to the masses — from luxury all the way down to regular people. We’re always looking at which tenants to bring in. So there will be a big luxe component in the new retail arcade and there will be a lot of contemporary fashion.
Any surprises you found along the way?
I wish the soil was a little better. We found a lot of weak soil conditions. But other than that, no major impediments.
What is a typical day like for you?
This is just one of many projects we have going on. Simon is undergoing about $2 billion worth of construction so we have about 30 or 40 active construction projects. My typical day is working with our development group to make sure we’re on time and on budget. Plus, making sure the leasing guys are bringing in the right tenants. It’s busy.
Are there brands you have to entice to the KOP Mall, and others you don’t want that are beating down your door?
There’s always a give-and-take. At King of Prussia, there’s mostly tenants that want to be here, period end of story. And we have the luxury of having a very high-quality portfolio, so we have a lot of demand. We had significantly more demand than supply.
Are the crews working 24 hours a day?
Pretty much. For the parking lot and demolition we’ll work at night. Some companies have crews here 24/7 depending on the contract. That’s why we can get it done in less than two years.
How was the process of working with Upper Merion Township?
That’s the nice thing about working with this municipality. They get it. We want to invest here because they’re willing to work with us. The approval process went quickly and smoothly. It took six months. It was extremely quick. When we conceived the idea, I met with a bunch of local officials. They said that day, “we love the idea, we’re going to work with you.” And it was a go from there.