Historic Gonzales Shopping Center Will Be Redeveloped, Could House Grocery, Owner Says | Business

The owners of a historic mall in Gonzales are tearing it down and planning to develop a new mall with a grocery store, injecting new investment into an older part of a town that has seen more business growth in recent years.

LeBlanc’s Plaza, also known as Mall on Burnside Shopping Center, is near the southeast corner of the intersection of Airline Highway and North Burnside Avenue in one of Gonzales’ busiest shopping areas. Marcy LeBlanc said her father built the mall’s first building in the late 1950s.

But the center is home to only a handful of businesses with a deteriorating parking lot that has raised safety concerns from city officials.

Demolition began last week on some of the buildings as LeBlanc and the partnership group, Galleries Gonzales LLC, plan a new complex of approximately 60,000 square feet on the 11-acre site.

Other investors in Galleries Gonzales include Marcy’s brother, Randy; family friend, Mike LeBlanc; and local businessman Arthur Scanlan.

Reached at his office on Monday, LeBlanc said the Gonzales Galleries were trying to work out a deal with a grocery presenter.

“We’re very close,” said LeBlanc, who is part of the family that owned the former Gonzales-based LeBlanc chain of grocery stores.

He declined to name the grocer at this stage – “Everyone knows that,” LeBlanc said – but was hopeful the deal could be done in early June.

He also denied rumors circulating on social media that Academy Sports were heading to the centre.

LeBlanc said he hopes the demolition of the mall’s first buildings will be completed in 10 days.

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All of the few remaining tenants, including an AutoZone Auto Parts on Burnside, have been offered spaces in the new complex. AutoZone is considering a new, larger layout at the redeveloped site, LeBlanc and city officials said.

LeBlanc and his family previously owned only a small portion of the entire complex – the area now fenced off and being demolished – but his business partners bought the remaining 8 acres of the mall property over 100 years ago. two years for an undisclosed price.

Baton Rouge-based Commercial Properties, the real estate company that had a 60-year lease on the land, opted out of renewing and redeveloping after some back and forth, leading LeBlanc and his partners to undertake the efforts that are beginning now he said.

Scot Byrd, administrative manager of Gonzales, said the mall has become an eyesore and parts of the parking lot have become a safety issue that city officials have raised with Commercial Properties.

The car park had been used for years as an intermediary between Burnside and Airline. Despite those terms, Byrd said AutoZone and another remaining tenant, Rotolo’s Pizzeria, have their stores among the best performing in the chain.

“I tip my hat to Marcy. He’s really doing the city a good job by taking on this project,” Byrd said.

Like LeBlanc, Byrd couldn’t tell which grocer was eyeing the revamped mall.

LeBlanc’s family grocery chain sold all nine locations to Rouses Supermarket in October 2016. At the time, the owners of both chains spoke of their families’ pre-existing friendship and closely aligned business philosophies.

Rouses has a location in Gonzales, however, just down the airline from LeBlanc Mall. Rouses did not return a call or email for comment Tuesday, but Byrd said the company monitoring the mall is not Rouses or the Sprouts Farmers Market chain.

Byrd said the mall was one of a cluster of properties that city officials were trying to attract new grocers to, including Sprouts.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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