More tenant changes coming at Towne Center

    Baton Rouge’s first California Closets store opened last week in Towne Center, the first of several new tenants coming to the shopping center at Jefferson Highway and Corporate Boulevard. Soft Surroundings, a women’s apparel retailer, will also be opening its first location in the local market in Towne Center in the coming weeks.

    The two new tenants come amidst a flurry of leasing activity at the shopping center. As previously reported, Jersey Mike’s, a subway sandwich chain, and District Donuts will both open in Towne Center early this year. Developer Steve Keller says several other lease agreements are in the works and he plans to announce more new tenants in the next 30 days.

    Keller attributes the uptick in activity to more aggressive marketing of the 440,000-square-foot retail center.

    “We’re actively marketing the center and have had a phenomenal response from tenants over the past 12 months,” he says.

    The more aggressive marketing coincides with Towne Center’s partial new ownership. Last March, a group of Houston-based investors led by the real estate company Moody Rambin acquired a 50% interest in the retail portion of Towne Center from one of its original owners, Phil Witter. Witter and Keller had been embroiled in a lawsuit over various issues related to the center for years.

    While Towne Center is bringing in several new retailers and restaurants, longtime tenant Mignon Faget confirmed last week it will be moving out after more than a decade and relocating to the Mall of Louisiana.

    Mignon Faget’s local manager attributed the decision to leave to slow foot traffic at Towne Center. Keller disputes that business is slow for retailers. He says occupancy is around 95% and after he inks the anticipated lease agreements currently in the works it will climb to near 98%.

    California Closets opened in the space previously occupied by BK Bank. Soft Surroundings will occupy the space vacated when Coldwater Creek, also a woman’s apparel retailer, closed last year.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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