BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Plans for a large Amazon fulfillment center at the mostly closed Cortana Mall appear to have fallen flat after a buyer has pulled out of a contract to purchase one of the properties at the site.
A developer believed to be working closely with Amazon has quietly been buying the properties there. The former Macy’s and a 13-acre tract of land was bought earlier in early 2020 by Cortana Place Acquisitions.
Wilson LaFoe, the owner of DL Investments based out of Jackson, Mississippi, currently owns the former Virginia College property at the mall. He says he had a contract with a buyer but that fell through after the buyer was not able to acquire one of the large department store properties.
“There was a good bit of money spent on his side as well as mine and doing all the legal work and about 30 days before we were supposed to move into the closing transaction he called and said, unfortunately, we have not been able to come to a reasonable agreement with one of the property owners and we’re probably going to have to pull out,” LaFoe said.
Currently, the only store open in the mall is the Dillard’s.
WAFB reached out to Dillard’s on the status of the store and to ask if the company was in negotiations to sell the property; a representative declined to comment, only saying the store was reopening Wednesday, May 20 after being shut down.
All parties involved with the Cortana Mall are currently under a confidentiality agreement, meaning no one can name the buyer or even confirm Amazon is behind the acquisitions.
The project is believed to be connected to the distribution center that is currently being constructed near Bethany Church. That property is currently owned by Seefried Properties. The company has built several large distribution centers for Amazon in the past. Seefried would not confirm that project is connected to Amazon either.
A representative from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office would not confirm who was behind either project, but did say the mayor is optimistic a deal can be reached to finalize plans at Cortana Mall.
“I know the governor’s office is supposedly working on it trying to put pieces of Humpty Dumpty back together again,” LaFoe said. “There is a time frame. This particular company has other options in other parts of the south and they may simply, if it takes too long, find another option and move on.”
LaFoe says there’s a 30 to 45 day time frame in which the project could be revived.
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