The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk — the new name and identity for the former Riverwalk Marketplace mall on the banks of the Mississippi River — was brimming with activity Tuesday as store employees unpacked boxes of clothing, hung brightly colored necklaces from display walls and tested the daiquiri machines and ovens in the food court.
All around them, construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the building, installing glass walls in storefronts and hanging signs.
The riverfront shopping center will open Thursday after being closed since last year for a $70 million renovation that expanded the property by 50,000 square feet, to a total of 250,000 square feet.
The shopping mall was purchased out of bankruptcy by the Howard Hughes Corp. in 2011. The Dallas developer announced in 2012 that it would turn the space into an outlet mall, meaning a shopping center where well-known stores sell merchandise at a reduced price.
A five-day celebration, beginning Thursday and featuring in-store giveaways and events, will mark the mall’s opening.
The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk includes larger stores than in the former mall, a wider selection of national retailers and for the first time direct access to the cruise terminal beneath it.
The mall’s former layout of two main floors and a small mezzanine area remains the same. But the top level, where stores were only 25 feet deep on the river side and 30 feet deep on the land side, now features stores that are 90 feet deep and 60 feet deep, respectively. The larger spaces were necessary to attract national retailers like American Eagle Outfitters, officials said.
The shopping center is anchored by the 16,000-square-foot Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio, the off-price version of the high-end retailer. The store is Neiman Marcus’ first in Louisiana.
Most of the building, which stretches several blocks along the riverfront from the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, is leased. Just two store spaces remain available. The Howard Hughes Corp. is in negotiations with possible tenants for those sites, said Caryn Statman Kboudi, the company’s vice president of marketing.
About 90 percent of the mall’s stores will open when the property does on Thursday, Kboudi said. Notably absent from the group opening this week is Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, a restaurant owned by the country music star. Kboudi said an opening date for the restaurant has not been established.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.