Nation’s Only Downtown Outlet Center Opens in New Orleans

The Howard Hughes Corporation’s much anticipated The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is gearing up for its Memorial Day Weekend grand opening. Set to welcome shoppers from May 22, Riverwalk will be the only downtown outlet center in the U.S.

The Howard Hughes Corp.’s much anticipated The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is gearing up for its Memorial Day Weekend grand opening. Set to welcome shoppers from May 22, Riverwalk will be the only downtown outlet center in the U.S.

Announced in the summer of 2012, The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the renovation and expansion of the former Riverwalk Marketplace shopping center at 500 Port of New Orleans. As previously reported, the project represents a $70 million investment that overhauled an aging mall that had not been updated since 1986. The redevelopment also added an extra 50,000 square feet of space, for a current total just short of 250,000 square feet. Estimates show that development created around 700 construction jobs. The new mall has also created several hundred new jobs.

In addition to the cosmetic aspects of the upgrade and expansion, redevelopment work was necessary to accommodate national retailers targeted by the developer.  The new tenant roster includes many local favorites and a bevy of well-known national retailers, several of which will be opening their first location in Louisiana. Among the outlet mall’s anchor tenants are Forever 21, Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus, Coach Factory Store and Coach Men’s Factory Store. Further tenants include Café du Monde, Gap Outlet, Puma, Raising Cane’s, Kenneth Cole Company Store, Red Mango, Kay Jewelers, Hartstrings Childrenswear and many more. The tenant mix was planned to please both local customers and the steady stream of tourists that visit the Big Easy and congregate in the downtown area.

“Our redevelopment and repositioning of this symbolic riverfront property will deliver a distinct mix of retail and entertainment offerings unmatched in the region,” said Grant Herlitz, Howard Hughes’ president. “Beyond the impact of these compelling options for locals and visitors, we are pleased to be a part of the continued revitalization of New Orleans.”

The redevelopment of Riverwalk is also important in that it increases options in the city’s underserved retail market, which has 30 percent less retail surface per capita than the national average, due in great part to Hurricane Katrina –although the NOLA market already had retail shortages prior to the 2005 disaster.  City officials have been working constantly since Katrina to attract more retail to the city and re-establish the Big Easy as a shopping destination.  More retail options go beyond making shopping easier and more accessible to the general population; new stores help eliminate blight, spur neighborhood development, eliminate food deserts, bring much needed jobs and increase the city’s tax base. In the past two years, the city has experienced a veritable retail boom: Walgreens, Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, H&M, Tiffany’s and Dillard’s are only some of the national retailers returning to the Big Easy or breaking into the market. Several local retail options – some of them with significant historic importance, such as the Circle Food Store – have also rebuilt. Even developments that were halted as a result of the Great Recession, such as Fremaux Town Center, have restarted development.

The only less-than-desirable impact of Riverwalk is that it stopped the redevelopment of the 150-acre hurricane-marred Six Flags amusement park. As previously reported, a joint venture formed by DAG Development and Provident Realty Advisors officially killed plans to redevelop the site into the 400,000-square-foot Jazzland Outlet Mall and entertainment boardwalk, claiming that the $40 million project  was made superfluous by the Howard Hughes project.

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Images courtesy of The Howard Hughes Corp.