Mall-o-mania could hit Summit County too

In the midst of all of the excitement over the opening of the new City Creek Center in Salt Lake, avid Summit County mall crawlers may have missed the news that the Tanger

Outlets at Kimball Junction is planning an expansion.

The developers have applied for a rezone that would allow them to add 23,000 square feet of commercial space to the existing 309,000 square feet. We aren't sure exactly how many new retailers that would accommodate but, if the popularity of the existing stores is any indication, the more the merrier.

However, if the Tanger Outlet mall is going to grow, we would like to see it get a little makeover, too.

When the first phase of the outlet mall was built in 1985, the planning priority was all about parking, which resulted in the current design -- a vast tarmac for cars bordered by a horseshoe of storefronts. That means, on a snowy day during the Christmas shopping season, shoppers are faced with an uncomfortable dilemma: hold onto their precious parking spaces and hike across the freezing tundra, or drive from store to store and hope someone else who is doing the same will vacate a prime spot.

Certainly there is a better way to mix retail and parking for both convenience and the environment.

As proposed, the developer is planning to place the new addition just east of the current entry, north of the current Tommy Hilfiger store. The Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioners suggested that location would crowd the entry area and we agree. Instead, we'd like to see something that would break up the existing parking, offer some more pedestrian-friendly walkways across the parking desert, provide shelter for people using public transit, maybe even incorporate a small food court to allow shoppers to refuel in comfort.

Our priorities have shifted since 1985. While we still want to encourage commerce and need to accommodate cars and buses, we are also more interested these days in walkability, sustainability and public transit. This seems like a perfect opportunity to add more retail space and at the same time tweak the outlet mall's outdated car-centric layout.