With the start of the new year, there are high hopes in Kenner for marked improvements at The Esplanade shopping mall with the arrival of new ownership. Once the source of great pride in Kenner, when it was considered a gem of a shopping mall, over the past decade The Esplanade has not flourished under the previous management to the consternation of shoppers and public officials in efferson Parish and the city of Kenner who have seen sales tax revenues at The Esplanade shrink.
Most prominent among those calling for a change has been Ben Zahn, Kenner’s new mayor. In his previous role as a Jefferson Parish Councilman, Zahn was an outspoken critic of Simon Properties during whose ownership the shopping mall suffered major deterioration and loss of retail stores. When The Esplanade was purchased by Pacific Retail Capital Partners, Mayor Zahn was elated, saying, “We have been displeased with the operations of The Esplanade for some time. The Esplanade had become something that is not reflective of the community of Kenner.
But I think that is about to change. PRCP seems to understand what Kenner will embrace.” Zahn said that the improvements that need to be made at The Esplanade might cost as much as $50 million and PRCP seems willing to consider that kind of investment. Among the first moves made by Pacific Retail has been the hiring of a full-time, on-site marketing manager, Ellie Thomas. Thomas is local to New Orleans and a graduate of LSU with a degree in graphic design and marketing. “Kenner is a community with a lot of pride and culture,” says Thomas. “We are working hard to make The Esplanade a center that mimics those qualities and is a place where visitors and locals of all ages can come and have a happy shopping, dining and entertainment experience.”
Taking ownership in September 2016, PRCP immediately began to improve the mall. Thomas says you can see several of the improvements made to the building exterior and property landscape, a few being cutting back years of overgrown foliage, pressure washing of the building, repainting the ramps and railings of all entrances and fixing several light fixture outages.
“On the interior,” Thomas says, “you can see a dramatic change in the feel of the center. There are new colorful graphics and vinyls filling the windows with seasonal and informational wording. “What was once dark empty spaces have now turned into eye-catching visuals and merchandise. Thomas said The Esplanade has also begun a series of free monthly programs open to the public, including a monthly “Kid’s Club” event and Wellness Wednesday health initiative.
“I encourage people to check out our website at www.esplanademall.com to stay up-to-date on all center information and events,” says Thomas. “We currently have a computerized survey we hope people will take as we want the community’s input as to what they would like to see us offer them at The Esplanade as we plan for the future. Those who take the survey will have their names placed in a drawing for a $100 gift card.” The link to the survey is www.esplanademall.com/survey.
Another move that Thomas thinks will be appreciated by the community is the hiring of a new security firm, PSC. “We want people to feel safe while visiting The Esplanade,” says Thomas. “Our new security team is very serious about their work. In addition to having a strong security presence inside the mall, they also have a mobile security unit that is constantly making the rounds of our parking areas.” Thomas says “the intentions of new management are to continue to make positive improvements.
The Esplanade is an excellent site for short-term leasing for community events, meetings, entrepreneurial ventures, expanding businesses and business incubators. While we are actively pursuing new retail outlets, there are excellent stores and food outlets at The Esplanade, including Target, Old Navy, a superb multi-screen movie theater, Bath and Body Works and several other local and national retailers.
I encourage interested individuals and businesses to reach out to our specialty leasing manager, Kami Grayson, to learn more about leasing and other business opportunities at The Esplanade.” “Please continue to support and encourage our efforts,” Thomas says to shoppers. “Our goal is to rebuild, renovate and rejuvenate The Esplanade so that it is again one of the premiere shopping malls in the Gulf South. We look forward to the day when we draw not just from Kenner, but from the River Parishes, Metairie, New Orleans, the West Bank and the North Shore.
We understand that Mayor Zahn and the Kenner City Council look forward to seeing The Esplanade become once again one of the city’s major sources of sales tax revenues. That also is part of our mission. We know that when The Esplanade is successful, it will help make Kenner an even better place to live.” The Esplanade features more than 70 diverse shops, restaurants and services including, Dillard’s and Macy’s along with specialty shops Journeys, Victoria’s Secret, Spencer Gifts, Things Remembered, Hot Topic, The Children´s Place, Jimmy Jazz, Kay Jewelers, Zales and more.