I was looking for some information on the former Belle Promenade Mall in Marrero on the West Bank. There is little information about this once-great mall, and I am hoping you can shed some light on what happened to it.
Thank you for the question, John; it gave me the opportunity to recall some great times in the early 1980s playing games in the arcade, eating at what seemed like the largest food court ever, picking out new clothes and watching first-run movies at the ritziest mall on the West Bank. Belle Promenade had about 85 stores, anchored by D.H. Holmes (Dillard's after 1989) and J.C. Penney.
When it opened in 1983, Belle Promenade's location near the intersection of Barataria and LaPalco boulevards was in the heart of West Bank suburbs that were expanding quickly to accommodate workers in the booming oil industry. For the first couple of years, Belle Promenade attracted customers from all over the metro area — and posed a financial threat to the struggling Oakwood Mall only a few miles away in Gretna, closer to the Crescent City Connection and New Orleans. A movie theater opened in 1985 and was larger, had more seating and offered more film selections than other theaters.
The Marrero mall (like many other businesses) was hit hard by the oil bust of the mid-'80s, and its customer base dwindled until, in 1989, stores and restaurants began to close or move. The mall was renovated in 1993 but never regained the popularity it enjoyed a decade earlier. When it closed in March 2000, only four businesses remained, including United Artists, which screened movies for another three months. The commercial buildings were demolished between 2001 and 2003. Since then, businesses of several types and sizes have popped up singly and in small strip centers.
A large section of the old mall site is grass-covered and undeveloped, surrounded by a construction fence that bears a sign advertising "Wayne's World Family Entertainment Center — Opening Soon." Wayne's World is the dream and brainchild of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, a Marrero native and John Ehret High School alumnus. Wayne put up $7 million of his own money to secure financing for what then was estimated to be a $16 million to $17 million project that broke ground Jan. 12, 2010. Plans for the 58,000-square-foot, 6-acre Wayne's World site — near John Ehret — include a bowling alley (a favorite pastime for Wayne), laser tag complex, video arcade and restaurant. The original contractor estimated construction would take a year.
Work stopped a few months after it started, when the economy took a dive and financing dried up for such projects, according to Earl Brandon, Wayne's business partner and fellow John Ehret alumnus. Wayne plans to restart the project as soon as he can secure financing.
"It's not dead," Brandon said. "The project was just put on hold. Wayne is looking at financing ... but it's still his dream to build it."