Kenner leaders say Macy's departure isn't the death knell for the Esplanade Mall

Master plan in the works for Esplanade Mall

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - "It's certainly a bad way to start the New Year," said Mike Sigur, who is acting mayor for the city of Kenner.

He said the city had begun bracing for the possibility of the Macy's in Esplanade Mall closing after the retail chain announced it would pare down its inventory of stores nationwide.

Not long ago the sprawling mall was acquired by Pacific Retail.

"This is a little bit of a setback for us as well as them, but I think perhaps they are sharp enough to have known that this was probably going to happen," said Sigur.

The city councilman representing the area where the mall is located said they tried to convince Macy's to do otherwise.

"Obviously, the store in Kenner wasn't doing as well as the store in Lakeside but we did everything we could do to keep them there," said District Councilman Leonard Cline.

There is little doubt that online shopping is hurting brick and mortar stores, but Kenner's incoming mayor admits the mall had been struggling for many years.

"I'm not going to blame online shopping only on the mall, I don't think anybody can do that because since Katrina it's just declined," said Kenner's Mayor-Elect Ben Zahn.

A statement issued by the Esplanade's Management Team reads,

"The Macy's announcement motivates a fresh approach to the master planning of The Esplanade. We look forward to future opportunities this announcement provides as we consider our options to rebalance and now master plan, The Esplanade. We have engaged with award-winning architectural firm Gensler, on ways to re-imagine the asset and better meet the needs of today's shoppers. The vacancy provides a canvas of creativity and a good opportunity for industries looking to expand their presence in the market. The Esplanade welcomes the input of the local community, and will be conducting local in-person, email and website surveys this month to determine what kinds of stores and uses the Kenner community needs and wants. We will combine the Gensler and community recommendations for our redevelopment plans and explore retail, restaurants, entertainment and a multi-family component to better serve the region."

"That's their expertise and we look forward to the mall expanding," Cline said.

"They want to go and they want to look at different things. I think they're more into the city center marketplace," said Zahn.

But Kenner officials tell us that Macy's actually owns the building the store is housed in so the mall owners will have to deal with Macys.
"It's not actually owned by the mall so Pacific Retail has to work in conjunction with Macy's now to fill that space," Sigur stated.

The closure of Macy's will impact the sales taxes Kenner government receives, but the city said other businesses are doing well like a brightly colored, modern strip mall on West Esplanade between Power and Williams Boulevards.

Still another strip shopping area across the street from the Esplanade Mall continues to have a dearth of tenants.

"We got to wait for that owner to get off their duff and do something. They have their reasons," said Sigur.

As of this year, big online retailers like Amazon must charge the Louisiana sales tax to purchases and local leaders said that would be a big help.

I don't know because it's still a convenience issue. It's still convenient to sit at your house and click on a button," said Sigur.

Still, he and other Kenner leaders said shopping habits aside they're confident about the Esplanade's future.

Zahn said he will work with the mall's new owners and managers to reinvigorate it.

He is to take office as Kenner's new mayor later this month.

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