GRETNA, LA-General Growth Properties has scheduled a fall reopening of the Chicago-based shopping center REIT’s 947,000-sf Oakwood Center, which is undergoing a renovation and renewal involving more than 1,000 construction workers, engineers, and architects. The reconstruction of the West Bank shopping, dining and entertainment venue represents a commitment to helping restore the city after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, comments John Bucksbaum, CEO of General Growth Properties.

The 68-acre Oakwood Center is anchored by a Dillard’s and a Sears that are both open and a JCPenney. The center will also include three sit-down restaurants, 360,000 sf of specialty shops and a 20,000-sf food pavilion.

Among the new and restored design features at the center are a fountain as its centerpiece, signs welcoming shoppers at all entries reflecting its new logo, thousands of earth-toned porcelain tiles to replace the flooring, hundreds of small-dome skylights, and color-coded hallways for shopper convenience.

The Oakwood Center in Gretna and General Growth’s Riverwalk Marketplace shopping center near the convention center in Downtown New Orleans sustained tens of millions of dollars worth of damage after Hurricane Katrina roared through the area and were closed in September 2005. Although property damage in the New Orleans generally resulted from the hurricane, the damage to Oakwood Center and Riverwalk resulted from arson and vandalism, according to public filings by General Growth. Riverwalk partially reopened in November 2005 at a substantially reduced occupancy level.

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