Cortana Mall is up for sale with an asking price of $4 million for the shopping center at Airline Highway and Florida Boulevard.
The Cortana listing includes the interior mall stores and the former Mervyn’s location, all of which are owned by Moonbeam Leasing & Management. The Las Vegas company bought Cortana and the former Mervyn's anchor store in 2013 for a combined $6.15 million.
Beau Box, who has the co-listing for the mall with Mike Bristol, a Dallas commercial Realtor, said he’s marketing the property “to everybody.”
Box said the property is attracting attention from national investors, who are looking at the site for non-retail uses. “They’re looking at anything. Colleges, schools, churches, distribution centers, offices and call centers,” he said.
According to Bristol's listing, Cortana is nearly 357,000 square feet, while the Mervyn's space is 80,000 square feet.
Box also has the listing for the vacated J.C. Penney store, which is for sale at $2.4 million. That store, which has been vacant since the spring, is just under 200,000 square feet.
Moonbeam had boasted about its expertise in revitalizing declining malls, pointing to what it did in Ocoee, Florida. There, it turned vacant spaces in the Orlando-area mall into call centers that hired about 1,000 people and lured restaurants and entertainment centers back to the property. It was unable to duplicate that success here.
Cortana has been open since August 1976 and was the place to shop in Baton Rouge until the Mall of Louisiana, which opened in 1997, eventually wrested away the title.
Watching Sears and J.C. Penney closures at Cortana Mall gives clothing store operator Yasser…
Cortana is down to just two anchor tenants: a Dillard’s clearance store that takes up only one floor of the two-level space, and Virginia College.
Since January 2016, Cortana's shedding of anchor stores accelerated. Macy's closed its Cortana location early last year. That was followed by the news in January that Sears would leave the mall and then an announcement in March that J.C. Penney would shut its store. All three of the chains have been under financial pressure, and the Cortana stores were among scores that were identified nationally for closure to reduce costs.
The former Macy’s space is under contract to an investor, who plans to re-purpose the 243,000-square-foot property. The anchor store has been vacant since spring 2016.
Ryan Pecot, an agent with Stirling Properties in Lafayette, who is brokering a deal for the Macy’s space, said the buyer is still working through its financial evaluation.
As anchor stores have jettisoned the mall, national retailers such as Foot Locker, Aeropostale, Chick-fil-A and LensCrafters have steadily moved out of Cortana.
The loss of the anchors and major national retailers has taken its toll on Cortana since those stores are draws for significant numbers of shoppers, who then end up stopping at some of the smaller local retailers in the mall. Plus, all of the employees were potential customers for other Cortana retailers or restaurants. Of the 139 retail storefronts in Cortana, a March survey showed 48 were occupied.
For several years, local commercial real estate experts have said Cortana's future was turning the property into a mixed-use facility, that could take advantage of its proximity to Florida and Airline.
The feeling is that Cortana is no longer viable as a retail center, as enclosed malls are dying off in the age of online retail, big-box stores and open-air, pedestrian friendly developments.
A variety of uses have been floated, including turning the mall into a health care hub for medical providers who want to better serve the aging population.