Monday’s announcement that Virginia College will close its Cortana Mall campus next year marks the latest in series of departures at the embattled north Baton Rouge mall since 2016.
The for-profit college follows the lead of former Cortana anchor tenants Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penney, all of which have packed up and left over the past two years.
The college’s shut down raises questions about what the future holds for the 42-year-old mall going forward, especially because Virginia College, which opened in 2010, is the type of non-retail tenant that had been heralded as a way to save Cortana.
The mall will have one remaining anchor after the college is gone: a Dillard’s clearance store, which only occupies one of two floors.
Requests for comment from Cortana’s owners, Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Equities, were not returned this week.
The company put the property on the market last year for $4 million.
Local commercial broker Mark Hebert—who in February suggested bulldozing the decaying mall and building a soccer stadium—says he suspects the Cortana location for Virginia College was “functionally obsolete” for the school, meaning it was too big, requiring a lot of maintenance and high costs.
The mall sits on 100 acres, its next incarnation could be anyone’s guess.