Anticipating a two-year major renovation of Canal Place, a 260,000-square-foot luxury shopping center located on the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter, three new tenants — Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch and G-Star Raw — have signed long-term leases, according to O’Connor Capital Partners, the real estate investment, management and development company that controls the mall.
Global architecture firm Gensler will update and energize the shopping center’s physical space, while O’Connor will launch new services to enhance the shopping experience.
“With our forward-looking attitude, G-Star Raw has continued to evolve our retail concept,” said Kendra Palmer, vice president of retail, noting that unit bowing at Canal Place in September will be luxury denim brand’s first U.S. store devoted solely to men’s wear. “Our first G-Star Raw men’s-only store at Canal Place presents us with the opportunity to get closer to our consumers in the New Orleans market and serve them optimally with innovative denim products.”
A 2,300-square-foot Tory Burch unit, the designer’s first free-standing store in the region, will open later this year, selling apparel, accessories and home products. Louis Vuitton in February will unveil a 4,000-square-foot store offering ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry, fragrance and stationery.
“I see a future remerchandising play at Canal Place, for sure,” said Francis Scire, senior vice president and head of leasing, marketing and brand management of O’Connor. “Securing these three leases paves the way for the addition of a few other monobrand stores. The focus is on fashion.
Scire said Canal Place is the only upscale shopping destination in its trading area. “It has a really successful Saks Fifth Avenue as an anchor, a collection of great tenants and a lot of opportunity. As I wrap my arms around this project, there’s an opportunity to bring this asset to the next level. We know Louis Vuitton is going to be successful because the brand is sold at Saks and does very well.”
Scire held focus groups with the center’s top clients, local office tower employees, store managers, key members of the gay male community and local influencers and fashion bloggers. “Topshop came up again and again,” he said. “We heard that they wanted a bridge, as opposed to fast-fashion retailer. They want stores that are a step higher than Forever 21 and H&M. Topshop will be the first tenant I approach when I go to London in September.”
Focus group members also cited luxury brands, such as Gucci, Hermès, Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as Lilly Pulitzer, Cos, Ted Baker, Apple and requested “a great multibrand children’s store,” Scire said. “As important as the brands were, there was a huge push for amenities like spa services, blow-dry bar, nail salon, valet parking, dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off, fashion styling, tailoring and shoe repair.”
In addition to Canal Place’s dining options, which range from Panda Café to Morton’s Steakhouse, focus group participants want restaurants with happy hours and brunch service, along with an outdoor bar and dining area. Consumers from outside the U.S. can take advantage of Canal Place’s tax-free status, which refunds sales tax to international visitors.
“You have to always be thinking about how to create an exciting merchandise mix that’s going to be compelling for the customers,” Scire said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to look at the mix and make sure it stays fresh and exciting.”