Once a thriving establishment of large chain stores and restaurants, Esplanade Mall in Kenner, Louisiana, now greets guests with quiet walkways and abandoned storefronts. Slowly deteriorating in value for the city, the mall was recently sold for an extremely low price of $10.
The previous owner of Esplanade Mall, Simon Property Group, relinquished ownership as well as $281 million in debt to the California-based buyer, Pacific Retail. The sale was included in a three-part transaction involving two additional shopping properties, one in White Plains, New York and the other in Jackson, Mississippi. But even with the huge debt acquisition, Pacific Retail holds optimistic plans to add new restaurants and shops to complement existing tenants.
Physically and financially affected by the damage of Hurricane Katrina, the once-thriving mall has been in an economic freefall for the last decade. Small additions, such as Macy’s, Dillard’s Clearance Center and a movie theater, were previously added to Esplanade to attract customers but have failed to increase traffic. This has widened the debt that Pacific Retail will have to face in the new deal.
What does this say about the recurring economic downturn of malls throughout the country?
Recession, economic challenges, failure to keep up with changing technology, and the rise of online boutiques have all played huge parts in ghost-town shopping centers. In Esplanade Mall’s case, the property’s inability to compete with the renovations and upgrades of a neighboring mall also affected the value of the property.
This has been the third time the mall has changed hands since it opened in 1983.
Is their hope for reviving a fallen shopping and business community?
Many shopping centers like Esplanade Mall have been deserted, resulting in a decrease in value and an increase in the rate of criminal activity in the city. But there are optimistic solutions of repurposing these properties throughout the U.S. Many malls have now begun utilizing the space for new establishments such as community colleges, doctors’ offices or even churches.
Seen as one of the city’s most important sources of sales tax revenue, city officials hope to once again bring a thriving shopping community to Esplanade. With proposals to add new housing developments around Esplanade, a city decision such as this will heavily contribute to growth in business opportunities.
For new business owners in unconventional industries, this will open a door for office or event space and the opportunity to take part in pouring back into a revitalized community. Hopefully, they will find a deal as good as $10, the equivalent of a lunch meal you can find inside the property.