The usually sleepy states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are seeing their fair share of retail development. Alabama is leading with several new projects planned, including O&S Holdings' 100-acre, mixed-use project World Famous Bridge Street in Huntsville. In Birmingham, Ala., mixed-use development is starting to gain popularity near downtown's busy University of Alabama at Birmingham campus and medical center. Atlanta-based H.J. Russell has developed a strip of restaurants with upscale apartments overhead.

To the South, Montgomery recently welcomed its first Target. The Dillard's anchor at Jim Wilson & Associates' Shoppes at East Chase is near completion, and the center has been doing gangbusters business since its grand opening in early November. Pundits fear for the future of the city's former fortress regional center — Glimcher's Montgomery Mall — now that upscale shoppers are frequenting the open-air alternative.

Flowood, Miss., is another hotbed for southern lifestyle developments. Aronov Realty Management's recently opened Dogwood Festival, has spawned several peripheral developments in the Jackson suburb. COR Investments LLC is building the 90,000-square-foot Magnolia Marketplace nearby, Aronov has a power center called Dogwood Promenade in the hopper, and Trademark is developing a 63-acre parcel in the vicinity. Combined, the developments will total more than 2 million square feet.

In New Orleans, mall vacancy has reached a perilous 15.3 percent. But that may be due to stricter zoning laws and wetlands issues rather than a lack of retailer interest. “Retailers clamor to get into New Orleans and Metairie, but there's just no land,” says Clay Peterson, director of sales and acquisitions at JTS Interests. “There are tons of people and the land is expensive. And when you do find it, you have to build something that's not your prototype because there are so many restrictions,” he says. The city saw 1.1 million square feet of new retail space delivered last year, with Target renovating and expanding the vacant Maison Blanche store on Veterans.

BIRMINGHAM

Population Growth Rate Through 2007: 3.73%
High Price Per Acre: $850,000
Regional Mall Vacancy Rate: 4%

MOBILE

Population Growth Rate Through 2007: 5.15%
High Price Per Acre: $871,200
Average Regional Mall Rent: $25 per sq. ft.

NEW ORLEANS

Population Growth Rate Through 2007: 1.34%
High Price Per Acre: $653,400
Regional Mall Vacancy Rate: 15.3%

BILOXI

Population Growth Rate Through 2007: 6.32%
High Price Per Acre: $522,720
Regional Mall Vacancy Rate: 5%