REAL ESTATE

New Orleans opens the first downtown outlet center

BY Michael Fickes

For a couple years now, outlet centers have been moving from the outskirts of cities closer and closer to downtown. Howard Hughes Corp.’s Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the first to make it all the way downtown — into the center of the newly rebuilt New Orleans.

Slated to open on Memorial Day weekend, the former 200,000-sq.-ft. Riverwalk Marketplace has expanded into a 250,000-sq.-ft. outlet center following a $70 million redevelopment.

The redeveloped center is located at the base of Canal Street and Poydras Street next to the convention center, the cruise terminal, Spanish Plaza and the Audubon Aquarium — just across the street from Harrah’s Casino and within walking distance of 20,000 hotel rooms, the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Is there a better shopping location for tourists, residents and the daytime business population anywhere?

“New Orleans is a very walk-able city,” said Mark Bulmash, senior VP, development with Howard Hughes Corp. “You can walk to shopping, to the Superdome and the French Quarter. It is very easy to get around. When we showed national retailers the rebuilt city and the walk-able dynamics, they liked it.”

In mid-May, two weeks before the grand opening, the center was 98% leased, largely by well-known national outlet retailers — many with their first Louisiana location.

Anchor tenants include Coach Factory Store, Coach Men’s Factory Store, Forever 21 and Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus. The tenant roster includes Café du Monde, Chico’s Outlet, Clarks/Bostonian Outlet, Gap Outlet, Guess Factory Store, Hartstrings Childrenswear, It’Sugar, Kay Jewelers, Kenneth Cole Company Store, Loft Outlet, Lucky Brand, Puma, Raising Cane’s, Red Mango, Sunglass Hut Outlet, The Fudgery, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Tommy Bahama, U.S. Polo Assn. and dozens of others.

More than 90% of the tenants are outlet stores.

The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is not a case of over-storing. New Orleans has 30% fewer retail square feet of retail per capita than the national average — perhaps thanks to Katrina. Shoppers have been gathering at the neighboring convention center to take buses to the suburbs to shop. Now shoppers can bus into the city and gather at Riverwalk with city residents.

The site has housed retail shopping for nearly 30 years. It was the home of the 1984 World’s Fair. After the fair, the Rouse Company reconfigured the space into Riverwalk Marketplace. “It was doing pretty well until Katrina,” says Bulmash. “After Katrina, New Orleans fell off the radar of national retailers, and they began to leave. Local mom and pop shops moved in.”

General Growth Properties acquired the center in 2004 when it bought the Rouse Company. Later General Growth spun off Riverwalk Marketplace and other former Rouse properties into the Howard Hughes Corp.


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OPERATIONS

Kohl’s, Toshiba partner with Plug and Play in retail accelerator program

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Kohl’s Department Stores and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions have teamed up with Plug and Play to participate in Plug and Play Retail, an accelerator program that is focused on technologies and teams innovating in the retail industry. (Based in Sunnyvale, California, Plug and Play is a business accelerator that specializes in growing tech startups.)

“We are pleased to announce Plug and Play’s partnership with Kohl’s and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and plan to leverage their deep industry knowledge and expertise to advise our investment strategy in the retail space. With their guidance, we will look to invest $25K-$100K in up to 30 retail-focused startups from around the world,” said Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO, Plug and Play.

The Retail Accelerator is a 12-week program designed for early and growth stage startups. Qualified companies are developing solutions in areas like inventory management, forecasting, augmented reality and Beacon. Through tailored deal flow, themed workshops, and face-to-face interaction, Plug and Play Retail aims to enable corporations to engage with startups that may complement their respective suite of offerings or create new potential revenue streams.

Startups accepted into the program receive funding from Plug and Play Ventures, weekly mentor sessions with industry thought-leaders, and opportunities for potential pilot projects, all culminating at Plug and Play’s quarterly demo day.

"Through our commitment to innovation, Kohl’s is investing in the new technology, platforms and partnerships that will elevate customers’ connection with Kohl’s,” said Ratnakar Lavu, Kohl’s executive VP digital technology. “The way consumers shop and share is changing faster than ever, and we are staying several steps ahead to ensure their experiences with Kohl’s remain both easy and exciting."

Plug and Play Retail will be accepting applications until May 31 and the program begins June 30.

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OPERATIONS

Krispy Kreme taps Papa John’s exec as president/CEO

BY Dan Berthiaume

Winston-Salem, N.C. – Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. has named Anthony N. (“Tony”) Thompson, 47, as president and CEO, effective June 1. Thompson joins the company from Papa John’s International Inc., where he most recently served as president and COO.

Prior to joining Papa John’s in 2006, Thompson worked for firms including Gulf Coast Coca-Cola, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Conagra Grocery Products Company. Thompson is expected to be appointed to the company’s board of directors in the near future. James H. Morgan, 66, current president, chairman and CEO, will continue to serve Krispy Kreme on a full-time basis as its executive chairman.

“All of us in the Krispy Kreme family are excited to have Tony Thompson joining us as our CEO and president,” said Morgan. “Tony’s background, accomplishments, professionalism and commitment to excellence all are a perfect complement to the culture, mission and values of Krispy Kreme. I am confident that Tony is the ideal leader to guide our company to even greater success in the coming years and, personally, I am greatly looking forward to working with him.”

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