Business executives are guardedly hopeful that they’ll get a piece of the action when the 460,000-square-foot Tanger Outlets retail center comes to National Harbor within a year.
Officials from both the Peterson Cos., owner and developer of nearby National Harbor in Oxon Hill, and Tanger discussed the project’s status and upcoming business opportunities with representatives from more than 50 small and minority-owned businesses Tuesday at the Oxon Hill Library.
“We have things like this all the time. My concern is that this is not one of those show-and-tell fronts and that it’s legitimately open to the people of Prince George’s,” said Vernon Richardson, vice president of Judd Enterprise in Capitol Heights.
Peterson is in charge of site work, which should begin in October, once all approvals are secured, said Steve Green, vice president of construction at Peterson.
Tanger, of Greensboro, N.C., will be handling the interior work, which has a “racetrack design,” so shoppers can walk along paths with stores on either side. With up to 80 separate stores in eight buildings to outfit, local companies also could find potential contracts, said Charles Worsham, vice president of development for Tanger. He emphasized that Tanger does not control tenant fit-outs.
“The depth of opportunity is tremendous,” Worsham said, adding that both Peterson and Tanger are partnering with Prince George’s County and its minority business programs to ensure those businesses have access to these contracts.
Because the project is private, neither Peterson nor Tanger is required to have a goal for minority business participation.
Executives at the gathering were excited by the project, although some said they were unsure if they would be able to get contracts on it.
Richardson said he hoped his company could land some information technology contracts. Given the county’s previous reputation for letting major contracts out of state, Prince George’s officials are more cautious now and will work harder to ensure local participation, he said.
“I’m salivating over those tenant buildouts. I could do them in my sleep,” said Nick Mona, president of Mona Construction in Annapolis. “There’s pieces here for everybody.”
But Ralph Ifeagwu of Apex Petroleum of Upper Marlboro was skeptical about the lack of minority business requirements.
“There’s a possibility not a single minority business in this room will get any business,” he said.
He referred to the National Children’s Museum scheduled to open in National Harbor in the spring of 2013. That project also started with no requirement and then adopted a 30 percent minority business participation goal.
“Without that goal, my inclination is to believe this is a waste of time,” Ifeagwu said.
Joy Anderson, president of JRA & Associates Contracting in Clinton, said she hopes her previous work on National Harbor projects such as Periwinkle will give her an edge in the contracting process.
“Peterson seems to push contracts toward minorities,” she said.