Amazon developer files plans for massive distribution center at Cortana Mall site

A developer with ties to Amazon has filed plans with the Planning Commission to redevelop the shuttered Cortana Mall in north Baton Rouge into a nearly 2.9 million-square-foot regional distribution center for the e-retail giant.

Though the documents do not specify that the project is being done by Amazon per se, the developer named on the application is with Seefried Industrial Properties, an Atlanta company that has developed facilities for Amazon through the eastern half of the U.S.

The application is for a distribution center on the Cortana site that will have a  2.895 million-square-foot warehouse, with a 45,000-square-foot office building, pump house and guard house.

Earlier this week, Seefried officials met with the mayor’s office and members of the Metro Council, who were required to sign confidentiality agreements, to brief them on the project, according to sources familiar with the situation. The purpose of the briefings, which were held in small groups so as not to violate the state’s open meetings law, was to make sure officials from the city-parish were on board with the project and would be supportive of the developer’s needs before any public documents were filed, the sources say.

Metro Council member and Mayor Pro Temp Lamont Cole could not comment on any meetings but says, “I think the Metro Council is supportive of any sort of economic development in north Baton Rouge—particularly anything at the Cortana Mall location.”

The filing today of the Seefried application with the Planning Commission confirms in writing what Daily Report has reported since 2019 about Amazon’s plans for the market and the Cortana Mall site. It also indicates that the on-again-off-again tussle between the developer and the owners of Dillard’s, one of the mall anchor tenants, has been resolved.

Daily Report has previously reported that Seefried spent much of 2019 and early 2020 trying to acquire the shuttered mall and its former anchor tenants in order to redevelop the site as a regional fulfillment and distribution center for Amazon.

Last May, Daily Report reported that Dillard’s was playing hardball and threatening to derail the whole deal, which would be a huge economic development win for the Capital Region and create 1,000 new jobs in north Baton Rouge.

Dillard’s has declined to comment.

Amazon is developing regional distribution centers around the U.S. Louisiana doesn’t have any of that magnitude, though Amazon has since opened a 111,000-square-foot last-mile delivery center on Industriplex near Siegen Lane that services a more limited area.

The Planning Commission will take up the request at its Feb. 22 meeting. 

Read more coverage on this story that Daily Report first broke by clicking here and here.