Stirling Properties and CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., the developers, said Monday that the first phase of the development, around 295,000 square feet, is expected to open next spring.
Joining the other stores set to open in Phase I are Carter’s, a children’s clothing store, Kirkland’s, a home decor store, and Massage Envy. The developers said two restaurants are also coming in Phase I: Cheddar’s and Panera Bread. Panera has a restaurant in the Covington area; this is the first Cheddar’s in southeast Louisiana, the developers said.
The announcement of additional tenants marks another step in the development, which was unveiled in 2008 by Alabama-based Bayer Properties as a $900 million retail-office-residential complex. But that massive project never seemed to gain traction, even as the city, parish and state were spending millions to build roads and make drainage improvements to ready the site. Developers at the time blamed the downtown in the national economy.
The city even approved a 1-cent sales tax, later reduced to half a penny, in the area encompassing the site to offset Bayer’s costs with the development, at the time called Summit Fremaux.
Covington-based Sterling and Chattanooga, Tenn.- based CBL announced earlier this year they had taken over the project, renamed Fremaux Town Center, and began work at the site in March. Local businessman Robert Levis owns the land, the developers have said.
“We are excited to bring these highly regarded retailers to the Slidell market,” Townsend Underhill, Stirling Properties’ senior vice president of development, said in a news release. “Their commitment to this project demonstrates the quality of this development and the strength of our regional economy.”
CBL’s executive vice president, Michael Lebovitz, said the new additions will complement those tenants that have already been announced.
“Fremaux Town Center continues to receive strong demand and is sure to be a first-class retail destination for Slidell and the entire region,” Lebovitz said.
The Fremaux Town Center development covers more than 80 acres at Interstate 10 and Fremaux Avenue. The second phase will include up to 320,000 square feet of additional retail space, including Dillard’s, and is scheduled to open in Spring 2015, the developers said.
Slidell officials, who have been grappling in recent years with reduced revenues, hope the Fremaux development will give the city an economic boost and position it to better compete with the shopping areas on the western side of St. Tammany Parish.