FARGO -- Fashion retailer H&M will open its first store here next year, marking the first confirmed tenant of a proposed new outlet center in south Fargo instead of setting up in the existing West Acres Shopping Center.

The Swedish-based brand with thousands of stores around the world announced to The Forum on Tuesday, March 7, that it will open a 25,000-square-foot location at the forthcoming Fargo Outlets at Timber Creek in fall 2018.

It’s the most concrete announcement yet for the proposed retail center, which in the past had only been discussed as something Fargo-based Property Resources Group was “exploring” to develop. Initial plans for the project, as told to The Forum in November, called for a 300,000-square-foot outlet center northeast of the intersection of 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29.

“We are very excited to have H&M as a part of our project at Timber Creek,” said Travis Voegele, a commercial agent with Property Resources Group.

The group didn’t offer additional details Tuesday.

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H&M opened its first North Dakota store in Bismarck’s Kirkwood Mall last September.

“H&M has experienced a warm welcome from customers and fans in North Dakota and is happy to continue to expand its store and employee count in the state,” read a written statement from the brand’s U.S. media relations department.

Out at West Acres?

H&M was among nine chains named by Fargo’s West Acres, 3902 13th Ave. S., in a blog post late last week that explained the businesses mall officials have spoken with as they look to fill newer vacancies in the shopping center.

Even after H&M’s announcement that it will open in Fargo Outlets, West Acres CEO Brad Schlossman said H&M is still a “prospect” for the mall.

H&M spokesman Patrick Shaner said he could only confirm that the company is coming to the outlet mall when asked if West Acres is off its radar for a possible store location.

“However,” he added, “we are always looking to open in the best new locations.”

Schlossman said West Acres officials have been discussing options with H&M for several years, including in recent weeks. But there’s a problem: The brand requires 24,000 square feet of space for its stores, a size the mall doesn’t have right now.

For comparison, the mall’s Forever 21 store is about 20,000 square feet, while its Buckle store is 8,000 square feet.

“Trying to come up with 25,000 feet is a challenge,” Schlossman said.

West Acres will have plenty of square footage opening up this spring when its longtime anchor, Sears, closes. But Schlossman said H&M also requires its locations to be in a main corridor, not in a mall anchor spot.

Several recent vacancies in West Acres with the closure of national clothing stores and other shops still haven’t added up to the right size for H&M, he said.

“High occupancy has been and even continues to be today a constraint that we haven’t been able to meet,” Schlossman said. “Even with the recent closings, these spaces are either too small or not on the main corridors.”

H&M’s email announcement said the Fargo store will be a “one-stop shopping destination for quality clothing” for the whole family. The business will feature collections for ladies, men and teens, as well as a separate section for accessories.

The Fargo Outlets at Timber Creek store also will offer the H&M Kids collection for newborns to 14-year-olds.

Founded in Sweden in 1947, Hennes and Mauritz Inc., which more commonly is known as H&M, opened its first U.S. store 16 years ago and now has 468 stores across the country.