PUBLISHED JAN 25, 2021 AT 11:28 AM
A vote to rezone Cortana Mall and turn it into a warehouse and distribution center for a developer that works closely with Amazon will be held during a special East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission meeting February 8.
The commission is set to hold its regular monthly meeting February 22. But at the Planning Meeting last week, commissioners unanimously voted to hold a special meeting two weeks earlier.
The only items on the agenda are two rezoning requests. One would change the mall site from heavy commercial and commercial alcoholic beverage zoning to warehousing three zoning; the other would change the land use from regional center to employment center.
Planning Director Ryan Holcomb said the rezoning requests from Seefried Industrial Properties came in to his office on December 31, a week before the deadline to submit items in order to be on the agenda for the February 22 meeting. Because the items were submitted early, that was enough to meet the legal requirements for public notices in order to hold a special meeting February 8, Holcomb said.
“My understanding is the purpose for this is to align it with a potential special meeting of the Metro Council,” Holcomb said.
The Metro Council is expected to introduce an item at its meeting Wednesday to vote on the Cortana rezoning February 24. Ashley Beck, council administrator, said it hasn’t been decided yet if the Cortana rezoning will be discussed at a separate special Metro Council meeting or as part of the regular meeting. “It will be heard on February 24,” she said.
Seefried wants to demolish Cortana and replace it with a five level warehouse and office, which would have 2.9 million square feet of space. The Atlanta-based company works closely with Amazon.
In April it handled the purchase of a 34.3-acre site on Bethany Church’s Industriplex campus. That property is now home for Amazon’s South Baton Rouge Distribution Center, a 111,918-square-foot facility. In November, the company bought a 63.3-acre site off La. 415 in Port Allen and filed documents with the West Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s office outlining a lease agreement with Amazon.
Amazon is currently building a 1 million square foot fulfillment center near Carencro, at the former Evangeline Downs site.
Cortana Mall has been largely shut down since 2019. A Dillard’s clearance center is the only anchor property still operating and it is set to close in April.