Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – The Riverwalk Marketplace will be renovated into an upscale outlet center, as part of a $70 million expansion and redevelopment unveiled Thursday by the riverfront mall’s owners and city officials.
Called The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, the redevelopment will expand the mall’s footprint by about 50,000 square feet, according to a statement from Howard Hughes Corp., the Dallas-based company which acquired the mall in 2011.
It will become the nation’s first outlet center located in a downtown setting, according to the company. It is also the first major redevelopment for Riverwalk since the riverfront mall opened in 1986. Construction is planned for later this year, with a reopening in 2013.
While not naming any major new tenants, the company says the new outlet concept, utilizing the mall’s enhanced 250,000 square foot layout, will showcase major national retailers as well as the mix of local retail and dining options that the mall currently features.
“Our leadership team is committed to being a part of New Orleans’ continued revitalization and look forward to bringing a dynamic new concept to this vibrant, charismatic city,” said a statement from Mark Bulmash, senior vice president of development for The Howard Hughes Corp..
The company once owned and named for the eccentric and reclusive billionaire, acquired the Riverwalk after its previous owners, General Growth Properties, underwent Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
The mall has seen its share of change in recent years, with fewer national retailers and more small shops. Store occupancy at the mall dipped as low as 30 percent after Hurricane Katrina, but rebounded in recent years to as high as 90 percent. The mall’s website lists more than 140 stores currently.
Cruise ship passengers make up a large part of the stores’ business, since Riverwalk is located so close to the cruise ship terminals along the Mississippi River. However, getting more local traffic has been a challenge.
The Riverwalk opened shortly after the 1984 World’s Fair, which served as a catalyst for redevelopment of the riverfront and adjoining Warehouse District.