Baton Rouge, La- Before the arbitrary separation of North and South Baton Rouge, all districts congregated in one spot: Cortana.
Almost 20 years after Cortana’s debut, the Mall of Louisiana was constructed six miles away in 1997. Most of the shopper traffic was directed south toward what would become the heart of Baton Rouge.
Over the years, the shift in customer traffic would devastate Cortana’s finances, and one by one different retailers would close down or move out.
Now in 2019, Baton Rouge’s old hub for socialization and fashion is reduced to a weed infested ghost land with less than twenty stores still operating.
“I would have never imagined it’d look like this after so many years. This used to be one of spots….” Melissia Allen said.
“And getting older, now it’s just like a lonely space.”
Allen and her boss, Shetila Burrell run a health clinic for the underprivileged. Burrell says she opened her business inside the mall because of its accessibility. Cortana’s location is placed in the center of Florida Blvd, with several neighborhoods scrambled around it.
It’s the people living in these places that Burrell wanted to target.
But only 11 months after opening her clinic, Burrell and Allen received a phone call from the mall’s management group, Moonbeame Capital Investments.
” I was out of state and I got a phone call. Unfortunately the mall has decided to do other things,” Burrell said.
“My establishment is no longer needed here and I had thirty days to move.”
Burrell isn’t the only business being asked to vacate. In the past couple of months, Elevate Church and an army recruitment office have also been asked to move by mid-September.
“It was disturbing….” Burrell said of the news.
Moonbeame Capital Investments has yet to comment on the reason for the changes.
Cortana business owners suspect that the mall might up for sale or closed for good. That information has not been confirmed by the management group.
But despite the looming departure date, Burrell and Allen say they’re willing to service all patients at the Cortana location until the very end.