Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lake Forest Plaza Mall 2012

Welcome to Lake Forest Plaza Mall 2012.
I will add more information in the future to this article including store lists between 1995-2005 and I am also on the lookout for interior photos or pre-1996 exterior photos. If anyone can help with photos or information email me at southernmalls@gmail.com.
The sign to the original mall is still standing; hopefully they will fix it up when the property is redeveloped.
Lake Forest Plaza opened officially on September 19, 1974 at the corner of I-10 and Read Blvd. in the center of the growing New Orleans East area of the city. The mall opened with a "Fiesta" with prizes and trips given away to customers of the mall. D.H. Holmes opened earlier on October 18, 1973 and Maison Blanche in August of 1974 while the mall was still under construction. Lake Forest was shaped in a cloverleaf pattern similar to the original logo of the mall and had 11 acres of shopping space. The mall had an anchor on each "pod" (or wing) and an ice skating rink in the middle of the mall that was accessible on three sides. A four screen cinema was also attached to the south "pod" of the mall. The mall was planned for four years before construction, and all of the "pods" (or wings) of the mall had names. Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, and the Fiesta Plaza was the center ice rink area.  

Stores from the grand opening ad in 1974; there are a bunch but surprisingly many of these stores are still found in today's malls.

All American Jeans 
 Bagert House of Formals 
Baker's Shoe Store
Baskin Robbins
B. Dalton Books
Brentano's
Butler's Shoe Store
Campo Music
CardAmerica of New Orleans
Casual Village
Chateau, The
Clothes Horse
Collage
Cradle Set, The
Cullum and Boren Sporting Goods
Danny's
Factory Outlet Shoes
Farrell's Restaurant
Fiesta Plaza Ice Rink
Fiesta Mexican Restaurant
FNBC Bank Branch Office
5-7-9 Shop
Flagg Shoe Store
Flame-N-Burger
Florsheim Shoe Shop
Footlights
Fortune Cookie, The
Frederick's of Hollywood
Freeman Shoes
General Nutrition Center
Gorden Jewelers
Godchaux's
Goldring's
Grand Prix
Gryder's Shoes
Gus Mayer
Halpern's Fabrics
Hallmark Cards
Hanover Shoes
Hausemann's Jewelry
Heritage House Gifts
The Hollywood Shop
Holmes, D. H.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Jarman Shoe Store
Jeans West
Joyce Bertram Bath and Boudoir
Just Pants
Karmelkorn Shoppe
Kings Row Fireplace Shop
Kinney's Shoe Store
Leonard Krower
LaBiche's
Lane Bryant Woman's Store
Lazybug Shop, The
Lerner Shops
Luigi's Pizza
Maison Blanche
McDonald's Hamburgers
Merle Norman Cosmetics
Miss Bojangles
Morrison's Cafeteria
Morrow's Nut House
Motherhood Maternity Shop
National Shirt Shops
Net Set, Etc.
Orange Julius
Perlis Men's Store
Picture Pac Photo
Plaza Cinemas 4 (Gulf States Theaters)
Plaza Hallmark Card Shop
Plaza Offices
Radio Shack
Ranch, The
Rapp's Luggage and Gifts
Record Bar, The
Richmond Brothers
Rubenstein Brothers
Russell's Beauty Supply
Sears Roebuck and Co.
Sizzler Family Steakhouse
Shoe Lodge
Smith's Record Center
Southern Savings Association
Spencer Gifts
Space Port Family Recreation Center
Stride Rite Bootery
Susie's Casuals
Swiss Colony Shop, The
Tape City U.S.A.
Thayer McNeil Shoes
Thom McAn Shoe Store
Tinder Box, The
Village Lady, The
Vision Chateau Optical
Waldenbooks
Wicks-N-Sticks
Wild Pair, The
Zales Jewelers

In the 1970's and early 1980's the Lake Forest Plaza Mall was the place to be. The mall was a major attraction for the entire metro New Orleans area until the mid 1980's. Several new malls were built in the New Orleans area, and the Oil bust of the 1980's hurt the New Orleans East area especially hard. Also the Godchaux anchor (2 levels) closed and Mervyn's (2 levels) was built in 1985. Holmes (3 levels) convered to Dillard's in 1989 along with the rest of the stores after the chain was purchased by Dillard's. 

To keep up with the other malls in the area the Lake Forest Plaza underwent a remodel that removed the indoor ice skating rink and changed the name of the mall to just The Plaza. Sears (2 levels) closed in 1993 and was never replaced. Mervyn's and Dillard's(Holmes) both announced closing sales in 1996. Mayor Morial tried to offer incentives to keep the two anchor stores open, but both companies declined and closed their stores. The Mervyn's temporarily reopened as a Treasure closeout store but closed after a short time. The Dillard's(Holmes) never reopened. Masion Blanche (3 levels) the last remaining anchor, issued a statement after the closing of the two anchors in early 1997. The manager of the store said they will continue to operate at the mall, and they will still be there when the anchor stores come back in the future. Dillard's then took over the Maison Blanche chain, and kept the store open. The mall changed hands several times over the years and the last majority owner was Gowri Kalias who also owned several large commercial properties in the New Orleans area. Plans to diversify the property to include medical, office, and entertainment options were announced. The Grand Cinema Theater opened in 2002 and the Plaza Cinemas 4 was closed in 2002. Redevelopment of the mall was very slow, and not much happened except for the Grand Cinema Theater. The mall was less than 50% full of inline stores for my last visit in 2004, but the food court was doing well. Hurricane Katrina came in August of 2005 and flooded the entire mall with around 5 feet (plus or minus) of water. The mall was demolished during early 2007 with the Dillard's standing a few months after the rest of the mall was demolished. Dillard's came down and then Lowe's was constructed. The owners of the property came out with two different redevelopment plans after the mall was demolished, but the site is nearly empty. This is an ideal site for another mall or major retail center since the site is near the center of New Orleans East and just off of I-10.     

For demolition photos go to http://www.builtstlouis.net/neworleans/lakeforestplaza2.html or http://www.highwayhost.org/ShoppingMalls/lakeforest1.htm . My blog also has a few videos (Lake Forest Plaza Mall Label) and Labelscar has an article on the mall.
The Lowe's is roughly in between the Dillard's/Masion Blanche and Dillard's/Holmes stood. 
These views are from roughly where Sears stood.
This was the Lake Forest entry to the mall Mervyn's was close to this entrance.
A lone lightpole stands in this empty section of the former mall site.
Another view from Lake Forest Blvd. Sears would have been straight ahead.
Debris from the demolition still lines parts of Lake Forest Blvd.
The Lowe's is the only business operating here; this view would have previously been the former Dillard's/Maison Blanche.
The entry to Lowe's is nice neat and painted; drive just past the Lowe's and the parking lot is torn up and waiting for redevelopment.

3 comments:

  1. DH Holmes opened April or May 1974. There also was cafeteria, and Mervin's. I think you got carried away with a few shops that were never there.

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  2. Was a nice mall in the 80's.....Anyone remember the name of the small toy store there before Kay bee toys came?

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