Delays may hit project in Mint Hill

The developer for the Bridges at Mint Hill shopping complex announced plans to delay opening dates on a number of projects because of a tough economy that has made consumers tighter with their wallets.

Representatives from Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. said it was the wrong time to open new projects and that retailers were hesitant to make long-term commitments.

They made the comments during a conference call about the company's second-quarter earnings Thursday.

The Bridges at Mint Hill project was not directly addressed in the call, but representatives hinted the complex that was originally planned to open in 2007 might not open until late 2010 or after.

“Now is not the best time to be opening new projects, and we have the full support and encouragement of our major retailers to delay these project openings,” said John Bucksbaum, chief executive officer for the company. “The retailers want to do what is right just as we do.”

Grading stopped last week at the planned site of the complex, at Lawyers Road and Interstate 485 in southeast Mecklenburg.

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said last week that developers told him construction was being postponed until work off-site could catch up to the work completed on site.

According to the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bridges at Mint Hill project is listed as a planned development, making it a lower priority for completion than projects labeled definitive.

Tom Goebel, director of investor relations, said the company does not commit to opening dates for planned developments, but that most likely planned projects will open after definitive projects are completed.

The Elk Grove Promenade project in Elk Grove, Calif., predicted to open in the fourth quarter of 2010, has the latest opening date of the company's definitive projects.