BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new life for Cortana Mall could be coming soon, with at least one report claiming Amazon is eyeing the mostly empty property.
The Baton Rouge Business Report confirmed through a source there are plans to bring Amazon to Baton Rouge, but WAFB reached out to Amazon for comment and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC), neither have confirmed. However, lots of people are waiting to see what happens.
“Back in the 80s, he had a brainchild to start a family business, so here we are,” said Frank Chase.
Chase and his dad, Andy, run Hobby Towne. It’s right across the street from Cortana Mall. They moved to the area in 2013 and have had a front row seat to its steady decline.
“It had been going down five or six years before then,” Chase said. “More stores are moving to the south side of Baton Rouge.”
Last week, the mall’s few remaining tenants got notice to move out and it already looks pretty empty. A quick walk through Cortana and you’ll notice it sort of looks like a ghost town.
Brick and mortars and drying up across the United States, partly due to the ease of shopping online. The irony is the popular online stores that offer quick deals and delivery like Amazon are buying buildings and flipping them. It’s already happened in Ohio and the Business Report claims all signs point to Amazon doing the same with Cortana.
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However, this mom and pop store isn't too worried.
“The traffic is still out there,” Chase said. “They’re just moving back and forth and not stopping.”
The Chases did say if Amazon does come, they’d hate to see the other stores leave.
“I’ve been going to Cortana since I was a child," Chase said.
While the mall’s anchor stores shut their doors for good, the family business isn’t seeing any signs of slowing down.
“It changes a lot, but we’ve got more out of town people coming in from Lafayette, Lake Charles, Ponchatoula, and Covington,” Chase said.
Hobby Towne is sort of a specialty shop. You go there for a reason.
“Word of mouth is great for us too, that helps us a lot,” Chase said.
And that’s exactly what’s keeping business booming when everything else around them is on the way out.
“I’ll be honest, there’s not many mom and pops left,” said Chase.
On top of that, the Chase family calls their storefront home, and Florida Boulevard is the perfect corridor, despite some business going in the other direction.
“It’s still a good area, a good side piece of Baton Rouge,” Chase said. “We’re not looking to move anytime soon. We’re going to be here long term.”