Even earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic shut down New Orleans’ tourism trade in 2020, prompting 10 tenants to depart The Outlet Assortment at Riverwalk, longtime property proprietor The Howard Hughes Company had been in search of a purchaser.
RockStep Capital president Andy Weiner mentioned he didn’t wish to miss the prospect. His Houston-based actual property funding agency acquired the riverfront purchasing heart this summer season for an undisclosed value.
“We noticed a chance to purchase a significant asset in a vibrant market, the place will likely be doing hands-on leasing and artistic administration with a metropolis and with a group that needed to see this property excel and do one thing that created some constructive power,” Weiner mentioned.
The chance comes with important challenges. The mall has relied on vacationers to outlive because it was transformed from vacant warehouse house following the World’s Truthful within the mid-Eighties, and people numbers haven’t totally returned since 2020.
It at present has over 75 retailers and eating places, together with high-end manufacturers reminiscent of Coach, Kate Spade and Polo Ralph Lauren. That hasn’t been sufficient to maintain long-term success, although, in line with Louisiana Business Realty agent and dealer Robert Hand
“The problem of this purchasing heart is that it has by no means been in a position to benefit from its location, and the shops haven’t been ready to attract sufficient prospects in to make cash,” Hand mentioned. “Which is an actual disgrace, as a result of the placement is terrific and in another metropolis a shopping mall on a waterway with a terrific view could be the primary option to buy groceries. However they haven’t been in a position to benefit from that.”
Rockstep Capital government vice chairman of leasing Michelle Waak, who beforehand labored for The Howard Hughes Company, mentioned the property, beforehand often called Riverwalk Market, regarded darkish and dated by the point it was acquired from Common Development Properties in 2011. It reopened in 2014 following an $84 million renovation.
“We opened 95 to 96% occupied,” Waak mentioned. “It was nice. The retailers jumped on the bandwagon, did the offers and we opened actually sturdy.”
Rebranded as The Outlet Assortment at Riverwalk, it was totally leased from 2016 till the pandemic, she mentioned. Throughout that point it touted the opening of Nordstrom Rack, one among two in Louisiana.
The current lack of tenants, which left 40,000 toes of empty house, is partly on account of on-line purchasing and the shortcoming of shops to adapt, in line with Hand.
“We are going to get previous COVID and begin having lots of conventions like we used to and that may carry extra enterprise again,” he added. “If they will change these misplaced tenants with actually attention-grabbing, distinctive tenants that provide particular merchandise that may attract consumers, that’ll draw individuals again into purchasing.”
Weiner mentioned the mall “wants hands-on artistic administration to carry it to its full potential.” He mentioned the aim is full occupancy in 24 to 36 months.
“We can try this, and the tenants that may are available will likely be higher than the tenants that left due to COVID,” he mentioned. “We now have signed a letter of intent with a significant luxurious outlet home. There are three extra luxurious tenants that we’re negotiating with and mentioned they wish to be within the property.” He declined to call the tenants.
RockStep plans to make upgrades over the following three to 4 years to the adjoining Spanish Plaza to make it “a significant vacation spot for meals, leisure and one of many key entry methods into the Riverwalk itself.”
“We expect the present power degree, the present pizzazz, is simply very low and we wish to reenergize Spanish Plaza with a sequence of high quality high-end eating places with lined out of doors seating together with some type of public stage in order that we may characteristic culture-bearers regularly,” Weiner mentioned. “As well as, we wish the fountain to be extra enjoyable, extra entertaining and extra inventive.”
Hand mentioned the important thing to attracting enterprise will likely be giving prospects a cause to go to.
“The problem of somebody that owns a shopping mall is to discriminate in a approach that the shops have a synergy with one another,” he mentioned. “You can not have shops there that additionally they have at Lakeside or Clearview.”