Cortana Mall officials said they have banned people from walking in the nearly-empty mall for “liability reasons” although people are still allowed to go into the mall to visit the few remaining businesses.

A person answering the mall office phones said people are still being allowed to enter the shopping center to visit the Heart 2 Heart Care Clinic or the U.S. Post Office branch.

There seemed to be no air conditioning running inside the property during business hours on Wednesday morning and an alarm was going off inside the former Virginia College property. Crews were dismantling the stage of Upstage Theatre inside the mall. Few cars were in the sprawling parking lot and there didn't appear to be any open stores on Wednesday morning. 

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Signs on the mall’s exterior doors said that mall walking will end on “9/3/19,” but the date on the sign was changed by marker from “8/3/19”. There were no mall walking groups at the property when it opened. 

Heart 2 Heart was one of two tenants that told The Advocate last week they were asked to leave by mall management. The health care clinic said it was shutting down the Cortana location on Sept. 18. The Junior League of Baton Rouge said they received a letter in August terminating their lease; the organization had operated a diaper bank there for the past three years. The Junior League said they would be out by Thursday.

The person answering the phone at Cortana referred all further questions to Moonbeam Leasing & Management, the Las Vegas-based company that bought the internal portion of Cortana and the vacant Mervyn’s anchor store in 2013 for $6.15 million.

There has been speculation Moonbeam’s efforts to get tenants out of the mall are a sign the property is closing or a sale is pending.

Besides having just a handful of tenants inside, Cortana is down to one of its five large anchors: a Dillard’s clearance center that takes up only one floor of the two-level space and no longer has a connection directly into the mall. Dillard's owns the property, so it can continue operating regardless of what happens to the mall.

Dillard's corporate office did not respond to a request for comment about its operations. When the local store was reached by phone last week, a manager said there were no plans to close that location and it regularly gets shipments of clothes.

Staff writer Kristen Mosbrucker contributed to this report 

Email Timothy Boone at