Discounted parking awaits Riverwalk shoppers - Montgomery Alabama news.

Discounted parking awaits Riverwalk shoppers

The revamped Riverwalk reopens May 22 with an updated name and new tenants.

And changes that have occurred downtown since Hurricane Katrina, along with incentives aimed at locals, are expected to make the retail center more profitable this time around.

Workers were busy Tuesday afternoon getting a parking lot on Convention Center Boulevard ready for the unveiling of The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk.

"This is the most empty I've ever seen the lot and the reason is because they're about to have an asphalt crew come in and get it all nice and ready for grand opening," said Riverwalk General Manager Frank Quinn.

For months, construction workers have focused on making the inside of the outdated and under-utilized mall brand new. The wraps are already off new signs alerting the public of parking for the mall, and the outreach to potential shoppers has been underway for a while.

"We're doing a large marketing [campaign] up until grand opening and through the summer," said Quinn.

"Congratulations to Howard Hughes [Corporation] for bringing it back. It took, I think, their special skills set in order to get this project done," said Kurt Weigle, CEO of the Downtown Development District.

Weigle said the quest to land more retail for the downtown area has been a goal for years.

"When the DDD first started reaching out to national retailers five years ago, it was difficult to get a call back. I think that has changed remarkably," he said.

The upscale outlet mall that stretches along a portion of the riverfront and sits next to the Morial Convention Center will bring a Neiman Marcus store to the city and state for the first time. There are 75 name-brand tenants in all.

To celebrate the reopening, there will be five days of celebration.

"On Friday we will have fashion shows all throughout the mall. On Saturday we're going to do a large crawfish boil outside on Spanish Plaza. Sunday will be our family fun day," said Quinn.

On Memorial Day, there will be entertainment and fireworks as part of the grand reopening and discounts will be given to members of the military and veterans.

The many stores aside, affordable parking will be very important to locals, and mall officials have taken that seriously.

"Parking will be as cheap as $3 once you get validated. You'll be able to get stamped all throughout the center," stated Quinn.

A $20 purchase inside the mall is necessary to get a parking discount. The amount does not need to be spent in a single store or restaurant.

Shoppers and employees of the mall will have access to more than 2,700 parking spots.

Weigle believes changes in the area's landscape since Katrina will help make the mall successful.

"Especially encouraging now because what we've seen is a growing residential base downtown, so we don't necessarily have to depend entirely on somebody coming from Uptown or Gentilly, or the East to shop here, we're growing [residential] base downtown, the French Quarter, so I think that's going to give the new version of Riverwalk a leg up from previous versions," Weigle said.

Public transportation is readily available, as well.

"These are our stores, so let's support our downtown local stores, even though they be national brands, they can only survive if they have our support," said Weigle.

The new Riverwalk will become the nation's first downtown outlet center.

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