KENNER - Tuesday morning, the parking lot at The Esplanade in Kenner was practically empty.
The property has been in steady decline as shoppers turn to Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie and other regional shopping venues.
"It's not the same like it used to be," shopper Theron Zeno said. "One store I went and looked for and it's no longer there."
Kenner leaders have been calling for a change at the mall for years and this week they finally got it. Pacific Retail Capital Partners and an unnamed investor, purchased The Esplanade from Simon Properties. Mayor Michael Sigur said the new owners' business model is to bring new ideas and energy to depressed properties.
"Their idea will be more out parcels, in the parking lot perhaps, of various business, restaurants, anything to bring more people to this mall," Sigur said.
UNO Marketing Professor Lisa Palumbo says the biggest struggle in recreating The Esplanade will be changing its current image into something more exciting and much more invigorating.
"Right now it means empty, dull, dead, Palumbo said. "They would need to put more restaurants, activities, things to do besides just walk around and look at stores."
The Esplanade also faces the same challenges as every other mall in America, the internet and a shift toward open air shopping centers.
Zeno says attracting better retailers to the mall would be a good start.
"I just hope they can bring better quality than what they having now," Zeno said. "Therefore, people can come here like they used to shop, once upon a time at The Esplanade."
"Anytime there is movement in an upward direction, others want to come follow," Sigur said. "This mall in its glory days was a wonderful place. This is an opportunity for a company with experience reinvigorating mall properties to do their magic at The Esplanade.
The Esplanade has 900,000 square of retail space and it sits on 80 acres not far from Louis Armstrong International Airport.
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