NOLA Mall Receives $70M Outlet Upgrade

The Riverwalk Marketplace along the New Orleans waterfront will be transformed into an upscale outlet center in a $70 million redevelopment that will close the current mall for about a year.

Riverwalk

The Riverwalk Marketplace along the New Orleans waterfront will be transformed into an upscale outlet center in a $70 million redevelopment that will close the current mall for about a year. When The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk reopens in 2013, it will be the first outlet center to be located in a major U.S. city’s downtown.

The 197,000-square-foot enclosed mall will be enlarged by about 50,000 square feet to handle a large national retailers, Mark Bulmash, senior vice president of development for mall owner Howard Hughes Corp., told CPE.

“The upper level will be expanded,” said Bulmash, who oversees the Dallas-based company’s Southeast United States portfolio. “We will be widening the upper level so we would get greater depth for larger tenants. Some of the depths now are 20 feet. You can’t really put a national retailer [in a space with a 20 foot depth.]”

Bulmash said the spaces would be expanded to depths ranging between 65 feet and 90 feet.

The construction is expected to start in late fall and finish in fall 2013 while generating about 600 to 700 construction jobs, he said. Once the outlet center opens, it should have about 770 jobs, which is 200 more than it currently has.

Bulmash said the redevelopment and repositioning into an upscale outlet center should triple the sales of the existing shopping center.

Built in 1986 by The Rouse Company, the Riverwalk Marketplace is located adjacent to the 1,600-room Hilton Riverside Hotel and the New Orleans Convention Center. The newly expanded Julia Street Cruise Terminal is also nearby. Howard Hughes Corp. merged with Rouse in 1996 and was later acquired by General Growth Properties before being spun off into an independent company. It owns and manages master planned communities and mixed-use developments, including retail centers. This will be the company’s first outlet center development. It is also the first significant redevelopment Riverwalk Marketplace has had since it opened.

Riverwalk

“We think this property is going to be extremely attractive, especially for tourists, but will also be a great reason for the local residents to come back and shop downtown again,” Bulmash said.

Bulmash declined to give names of retailers this early in the process, but the company described them as top national retailers with established outlet stores. The new outlet center will be the first location in the Gulf region for some of the brands. He said they will also retain some of the current local retailers and restaurants.

“We will have some destination sit-down restaurants as well as a very interesting food court that is developing right now,” Bulmash added.

Even before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the area had been under-served in the retail sector. Bulmash said the market has 30 percent less per square feet of retail per capita than the national average.

City officials embraced the outlet center plan.

“The New Orleans Business Alliance is passionate about improving the city’s retail landscape and believes this project has the potential to be catalytic in anchoring the Canal shopping district,” said Rod Miller, president and CEO of the business group.

While the Howard Hughes Corp. wasn’t ready to release the names of its potential tenants, a competitor planning a 450,000-square-foot open-air outlet center near St. Louis, Mo., was. Taubman Centers, Inc. held a groundbreaking this week for Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield and revealed about 40 of the more than 100 stores that will be featured in the 49-acre center. Stores on the list include: Banana Republic Factory Store, Gap Outlet, J. Crew Factor, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, 2b Bebe, Lucky Brand Jeans, Nine West, Ed Hardy, Jones New York, Body Shop, Kitchen Collection, Maidenform, Motherhood Maternity, Ultra Diamonds and Osh Kosh B’gosh.

Taubman, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said it had received final federal, state and city officials to being construction and was moving ahead with drainage and utility work. Buildings will start being erected in October and the center is expected to open a year later.

Located off Highway 40, Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield should generate about 750 construction jobs and approximately 1,200 when the outlet center opens. Taubman estimates annual sales of about $175 million to $200 million with expected tax revenues of more than $14 million for the region.