Riverwalk Mall to bring in much-needed additional sales tax to c - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Riverwalk Mall to bring in much-needed additional sales tax to city


Shoppers aren't the only ones looking forward to the grand opening of a $70 million outlet mall. Retailers hope for a big turnout Thursday as they unveil "the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk."

Shoppers got their first look Wednesday at the brand-new Neiman Marcus Last Call store at the Riverwalk Mall.

"This is certainly an attractive shop," said Virginia Weinmann.

Neiman Marcus is one of 75 tenants to occupy the newly restored shopping mecca. The Howard Hughes Corporation spent $70 million renovating the current space. With that price tag, economists say it's expected to bring in big bucks.

"If they make money off of it then the city will be getting a piece of that," said UNO economist Walter Lane, Ph.D.

Additional sales tax is good news following the $17.5 million settlement the city must pay to the New Orleans firefighters pension fund. The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the case, keeping the lower court's decision in place. The administration says the money for the firefighters retirement fund, coupled with costs related to the sheriff's consent decree, could lead to the cutting of critical city services.

On Wednesday, Mayor Landrieu commented, "It puts us in a really difficult decision of just having to cut, and of course we've already cut 25 percent and $100 million out of the budget and we have needs."

"The city's in big trouble. That's a big heap of money they owe the firemen there and its going to be really hard to make that up," said Lane.

But Lane believes the revenue brought in from the new mall will help - slightly.

"The Riverwalk used to be fairly good, it sort of went downhill and it's been closed for awhile. Opening that back up will provide some definite resources for the city," Lane said.

In neighboring Jefferson Parish, Lakeside Mall and surrounding stores brought in $21 million last year in sales tax revenue. While the Riverwalk may not be as generous to the city, Lane points to the new Costco in the Carrollton neighborhood and new shopping centers around Orleans Parish, saying they're already helping to bring in more money.

"There's more retail in New Orleans than there's been since like the 70s or something like that," said Lane.

Back at the Riverwalk, Mississippi resident Linda Henry and her friends say they like what they see. When asked if they'd come back, we received a resounding, "yes!"

That is exactly what city leaders want to hear.

Landrieu said Wednesday that the city is considering options to come up with the money to pay the firefighters pension fund. One thing the mayor said he won't do is consider laying off any employees.

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