In an exclusive interview we hear from a former tenant about the challenges at The Esplanade, and his predictions about the future of the Kenner mall.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter has the story.
The Esplanade is one of the area’s largest malls, and it’s also the one that’s perhaps struggling the most.
Strength of the neighboring Target department store, and ground-breaking of The Grand movie theater provided hope for the mall declining in popularity; but nothing has been enough to breathe new life into two-story structure.
“Sales and foot traffic just started going way down,” former tenant Jonathan LaHatte said.
LaHatte was a tenant until two weeks ago.
“Til We Meet Again” offered affordable caskets and urns; but not even his memorable and sometimes controversial designs were enough to keep business alive at The Esplanade.
“It’s gotta be the lack of retailers inside the mall. You look at esplanade versus lakeside it’s a complete difference, complete night and day. Esplanade mall is full of black curtains, now covering their gates whereas lakeside is 100% capacity as far as I know.”
He says when he opened for business in the fall of last year he had neighboring tenants.
Each business relies on the foot traffic generated from neighboring retailers. When he moved out, there were vacancies on either side.
Aside from low foot traffic, LaHatte says he experienced other internal problems with mall management.
“Without having any local support from management, was hurting me immensely; hurting my personal life, hurting my business and I just couldn’t stay there. It was impossible for me to survive there.”
LaHatte has relocated to Clearview Parkway in Metairie, behind target and is already enjoying a boost in business.
As for The Esplanade he believes the future of the mall is bleak.
“When you have retailers that are not happy being inside of a structure, and you’re not doing everything you can to make them happy or at least to make them pleased to be in there, the mall is not going to survive.”
LaHatte says during his time at The Esplanade there were more closures than lease renewals.
We reached out to Simon Properties about the future of the mall. Late Wednesday, we were still waiting to hear back from the corporate office.