Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Louisiana Mall on Hold

If you've driven down I-12 through St. Tammany Parish in the past year or so, you must have noticed the commercial construction boom along the corridor. As the Northshore population exploded after Hurricane Katrina, so did commercial development. Now it seems one project that hoped to cash in on new Northshore neighbors is temporarily on ice.

New Orleans TV station WDSU reports Nord du Lac, a major lifestyle retail center which was going to have about 100 stores, will not open in March as planned. The report says the buildings that have been completed are simply being mummified in Tyvek - only to be unwrapped when the economy begins to recover. There are also concerns about the fate of a very similar project (called Summit Fremeaux) in Slidell, where construction is in more preliminary stages.

Even though I do believe the post-Katrina Northshore market was over-hyped, I think the slowdown on these two projects can be mostly attributed to skittish national retailers. Both projects are coming from respectable national retail developers. But right now, no one wants to expand.

The only similar property that was even proposed in Lafayette, was the development of the huge chunk of land at the Ambassador Caffery / Kaliste Saloom intersection. River Ranch developer Robert Daigle, who was also trying to create an outdoor mall at that site tells me all plans are on hold until the national retailers decide they want to once again grow.

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