Visionary mayoral candidate E Eric Guirard has been in discussion with developers about converting the mostly deserted Cortana Mall into an entertainment mecca that will include restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and more, he announced today.
The 1.4 million square foot mall, which opened in 1976, once housed such retail giants as Goudchaux’s/Maison Blanche, JC Penney, Dillards, Sears, Macy’s and others and was the largest shopping mall in the south. Recent changes to the economic landscape of retail shopping has caused many tenants to vacate the mall leaving Baton Rouge with a potentially large building with no true purpose. Efforts to sell the mall to Amazon fell through recently so Guirard developed his vision for the center.
Guirard has been in conversation with developers from Las Vegas and other areas to create “Rouge Town” a single-stop collaboration of entertainment, dining and nightlife that would allow the mall to be repurposed towards an industry that is a natural fit for south Louisiana. Rouge Town could also be used to host major events like Bayou Country Superfest as well as large concerts, Guirard added.
“We can’t afford to sit back and wait for developers to bring ideas and opportunities to us. As mayor, I will reach out and find the folks with the resources to make things happen and help the developers through local and federal tax incentives,” Guirard said. “East Baton Rouge Parish is an area known for great food and great music and we need to make it easier for those industries to thrive and for visitors to come and enjoy our area.”
The Rouge Town concept is just one of many concepts Guirard developed to expand the footprint and appeal of Baton Rouge. Downtown is another area that has great untapped potential, he said.
“I grew up here and I’ve always felt that Baton Rouge could be more progressive in developing a master plan. Baton Rouge has a strong tourism industry, but we can do more. It takes long-term planning and creative thinking to make it happen though. Our leaders in the past have tended to think small and be content with status quo. It’s time to unite our city and grow together,” Guirard said. From his larger than life campaign signs to his creative campaign commercials to his outside-thebox campaign platform, E Eric Guirard means business when it comes to leading Baton Rouge.