Lakeside Shopping Center announced Friday that the coveted Spanish clothing retailer Zara will open late next year in the former Express location and that the mall will spend $10 million renovating its common areas.

Zara’s arrival to the New Orleans market will be welcome news for fans of the upscale fashion retailer’s clothes and accessories for men, women and children.

The cosmopolitan Zara, which originated in 1975 in Galicia, Spain, has grown to about 2,100 stores in 88 countries.

It has 83 stores in 20 U.S. cities, but the Lakeside location will be the first in Louisiana, mall officials said Friday.

Zara will open in the second half of 2018 in a two-story, 34,722-square-foot location now occupied by Express, which is moving to the former Banana Republic location.

The announcement was the latest in a series of additions and departures for Lakeside, which has 98 percent occupancy and has weathered years of unfavorable trends, including the rise of e-commerce and a shift away from enclosed malls, that have been far less kind to many of its brethren.

Esplanade Mall in Kenner, for example, has lost its Macy’s store, while Oakwood Mall in Terrytown has lost its Sears department store.

In January, news broke that Gap Inc. had decided to close the Banana Republic location at Lakeside, a departure the mall attributed to the clothing retailer’s existing space not being the right fit and the mall being unable to come up with another space for it.

Lakeside management left the door open at the time that Banana Republic would return.

Also in January, local jeweler Adler’s said it would leave Lakeside and move to the nearby shopping center anchored by Trader Joe’s. Store officials said the time was right for a stand-alone location with high visibility from the busy Veterans Memorial Boulevard corridor.

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Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie in December 2014.

As for the common-area renovations at Lakeside, the mall said Friday that it will raise sections of the ceiling, adding skylights, and will install new lighting, decorative columns and seating.

The renovation is designed to give the mall a more airy feel and will take place over the next three years, though the areas will remain open during the work.

The project follows a remodeling of the food court in 2012.

Lakeside is working with Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects of New Orleans and Sims Patrick Studio of Atlanta on the renovation plans.

“Over the last ten years, we added Macy’s, constructed two parking decks, added the Cheesecake Factory, remodeled the entrances and the food court, and added a variety of new retailers including Apple, Madewell, Athleta and Lululemon,” Lakeside General Manager Glen Wilson said.

The mall said construction continues on the new Fleming’s Prime Steak House and Wine Bar, which will open this fall in a 6,796-square-foot out-parcel at North Causeway Boulevard and 17th Street.

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