Shoppers, start your engines. The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, hailed as the first downtown outlet center in the country, is now open for business in New Orleans. Situated right next door to the Convention Center and within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal, this collection of upmarket shops and (for now) casual eateries is hard for visitors to miss. And locals like Catherine Hill, a fashion forward French Quarter resident, are thrilled to not have to leave town in search of designer bargains. “I used to have to drive out of state to go to Neiman Marcus,” said the Muse krewe member, which might explain her passion for shoes. “Now I don’t.”
Besides the flagship Neiman Marcus’ Last Call Studio – the first in the state – fashionistas can peruse purses from Coach, sandals from Steve Madden and track shoes from Puma. There are more than 50 stores in the renovated space, along with a top floor food court for casual eats. A promised Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill will open a little later in the summer. The 250,000 sq. ft. outlet center, expanded by 50,000 feet from the original space, extends from Spanish Plaza, next to the Aquarium to the convention center
The contrast to the original Riverwalk Marketplace, which opened in 1986 on the site of the 1984 World’s Fair, is marked. A year under wraps, the redo is gorgeous, airy, filled with natural light and river views, something the cavelike original center sorely lacked. Situated in the heart of downtown, the new Riverwalk is in the middle of everything close to Harrah’s and the French Quarter.
For city dwelling New Orleanians, the siren call of discount parking and mouthwatering brands like Neiman Marcus Last Call (the first in the state), Kenneth Cole, Coach and Forever 21 is irresistible. Once a dark and cavelike space, the new Riverwalk is filled with natural light and river views. Many of the shops are framed with glass rear walls, bringing glimpses of the Mississippi into clear view.
Developed by the Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corporation, which claims real estate holdings dating back to the famed business magnate and playboy, the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk created 1600 new jobs, certainly a boon to the local economy. Despite the retail pedigrees, the Outlet Collection connects to local brands like Mona’s Café in the food court, Café DuMonde and Mardi Gras Masquerade Store, a great spot to snag last minute Nola-flavored gifts. And the views and outdoor seating along the Mississippi guarantee that local shoppers will feel very much at home.